Robert F. Byrnes
At the death of Stalin in March 1953, the various states and peoples of East Central Europe, except for Yugoslavia, were under apparently firm and efficient Soviet control. During the years after the Second World War, the political parties, national leaders, and opposition classes and groups had been smashed and pulverized. All sources of Western influence had been uprooted or cut off. The communists had made considerable progress in reshaping the isolated societies; and Soviet control over the instruments of rule--the communist parties, governments, bureaucracies, police, and armed forces--grew ever tighter. Finally, a series of Soviet ties bound each state and people firmly to the Soviet system. Outside observers were aware of the brooding discontent which affected this most unhappy part of the Soviet empire, but even the author of the containment theory himself anticipated no benefits or advantages for the satellite populations.
American policy toward the Soviet Union and East Central Europe after 1947 was dominated by the idea of containment. Under this policy, the United States and its allies were to increase their military strength and determination so as to contain Soviet expansive tendencies "with unalterable counter-force at every point where they [the Russians] show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world." The author of this policy argued that economically and politically healthy Atlantic states, alert and true to the basic spiritual values of civilized society, would serve "to increase enormously the strains under which Soviet policy must operate, to force upon the Kremlin a far greater degree of moderation and circumspection than it has had to observe in recent years, and in this way to promote tendencies which must eventually find their outlet in either the breakup or the gradual mellowing of Soviet power."
Containment by the time of Stalin's death had achieved a number