PLANNING FOR THE PEACE: BRETTON WOODS, POSTWAR RELIEF, AND SOVIET-AMERICAN RELATIONS, 1944-1945
THE BRETTON WOODS agreements of July 1944 establishing the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank marked the first major attempt by the United States to restructure the world economy. For almost three decades, the Bretton Woods institutions symbolized the American determination to maintain a world economic order based upon free trade and currency convertibility. More importantly, the 1944 conference was the foundation for later efforts to integrate the world economy under American leadership, and thereby to achieve economic security for the United States.
The Bretton Woods system was meant to be politically neutral, accommodating both capitalist and socialist countries. Yet thanks to the deterioration of Soviet-American relations soon after the war, the Soviet Union refused to participate in the new monetary and financial organizations. Moscow's failure to ratify Bretton Woods provides important insights into the origins of the Cold War.
Wartime economic planning had not focused on Soviet-American relations, and few foresaw the intense conflict that would develop between the putative superpowers after the war. Most American officials envisaged pragmatic cooperation among the great powers in the context of the United Nations Organization (UN) and tailored U.S. commercial policies to meet the needs of the Soviet Union and other state-trading countries. Washington, in short, attempted "to construct a new world economic order without first resolving the deep political differences which divided the United States and the Soviet Union."1 American champions of free trade and multilateralism actually anticipated more