The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947

The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947

The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947

The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947

Synopsis

This book moves beyond the focus on economic considerations that was central to the work of New Left historians, examining the many other forces -- domestic politics, bureaucratic inertia, quirks of personality, and perceptions of Soviet intentions -- that influenced key decision makers in Washington.

Excerpt

Historians of the Cold War face a peculiar problem: an overwhelming, though still not complete, body of documents on United States foreign policy during and after World War II is now open for research, yet we have little reliable information about what went on inside the Kremlin during the same period. This disparity of sources makes it impractical, at present, to attempt a definitive study of the origins of the Cold War. Nor is it now feasible to make final judgments about responsibility for that conflict, although I do venture a few highly tentative suggestions in the conclusion.

My goal has been more modest. I have sought to analyze the evolution of United States policy toward the Soviet Union from the formation of the Grand Alliance in 1941 to the proclamation of the Truman Doctrine in 1947. I have proceeded on the assumption that foreign policy is the product of external and internal influences, as perceived by officials responsible for its formulation. In seeking to understand their behavior, I have tried to view problems of the time as these men saw them, not solely as they appear in retrospect. I have not hesitated to express judgments critical of American policy-makers, but in doing so have tried to keep in mind the constraints, both external and internal, which limited their options. If there is a single theme which runs through this book, it is the narrow range of alternatives open to American leaders during this period as they sought to deal with problems of war and peace.

In contrast to much recent work on the subject, this book will not . . .

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