The Cold War in Retrospect: The Formative Years

By Roger S. Whitcomb | Go to book overview

2
The Postwar Scene (1945-1953): Cold War Triumphant

It is an undeniable privilege of every man to prove himself right in the thesis that the world is his enemy, for if he reiterates it frequently enough . . . he is bound eventually to be right.

-- George F. Kennan

America emerged from World War II the strongest state in the world. At least for a brief period of time, it was the only country with adequate capability to be fairly called a credible world power. Coming out of the war relatively unscathed, and, indeed, even having profited from the conflict in the sense that her economy had been finally emancipated from the iron grip of the Great Depression, America was now in a unique position to play a decisive and constructive role in helping to heal the wounds of that conflict. Moreover, by means of the Bretton Woods infrastructure that had been put in place, she was uniquely situated to assist the European states to get back on their feet, and to begin to play the role of mentor to the non-Western peoples of the world. As is so often the case in such matters, the results of her endeavors turned out to be bittersweet, to say the least.

War produces not only deadly guns and terrible bombs but also golden dreams and illusions. The greater the war, the more fantastic the illusions. In one recurring illusion each is the "last war;" in another, "swords" are turned into "plough-shares"; in a third, the world is made "safe for democracy." World War II produced perhaps the grandest illusions of all. Fought in the name of ridding mankind of the evils of messianic totalitarianism (which had represented, after all, a challenge to the established processes of peaceful intercourse), the great democracies of the West allied themselves with the Russian communist state in a grand coalition. Even as they engaged in the bitter struggle, efforts were made

-65-

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The Cold War in Retrospect: The Formative Years
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction: America Meets Russia, 1941-1961 1
  • Notes 4
  • 1 - The Troubled Partnership: The Bear and Eagle in World War II 7
  • Notes 48
  • 2 - The Postwar Scene (1945-1953): Cold War Triumphant 65
  • Notes 123
  • 3 - The Eisenhower Years: Nothing Fundamental Has Changed 143
  • Notes 184
  • 4 - Babylon Revisited 199
  • Notes 222
  • Selected Bibliography 227
  • Index 253
  • About the Author 261
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