Economic Security and the Origins of the Cold War, 1945-1950

By Robert A. Pollard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
COLD WAR IN THE SOVIET SPHERE: AMERICAN POLICIES IN EASTERN EUROPE, THE RUSSIAN LOAN, AND CONTAINMENT DOCTRINE, 1945-1947

THE OPENING SHOTS of the Cold War were fired over Eastern Europe. Underlying the controversy over this region was a fundamental difference between Soviet and American concepts of security. To the Russians, security dictated extraordinary measures to control the political and economic destiny of Eastern Europe, while to the Americans, the nearly closed Soviet sphere seemed to threaten the open and integrated economic order upon which U.S. hopes for peace and prosperity rested.

Historians differ on the roots of U.S. policy toward Eastern Europe. According to the orthodox interpretation, the crux of the problem was the Red Army's imposition of unrepresentative governments in certain East European capitals. Thus, the orthodox historians argue that the Truman administration's policies marked a defensive reaction to Soviet political repression in the East European countries; economic issues played little or no part in the conflict.

In contrast, most revisionist historians portray Stalin as a patriotic Russian statesman who simply sought to achieve traditional czarist security aims in Eastern Europe. According to this view, the unwillingness of the Truman administration to grant the Soviets a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe precipitated the Cold War. Some revisionists, such as Joyce and Gabriel Kolko, further claim that American efforts to establish an Open Door in the region--open to U.S. trade, investment, and political influence--was the main cause of Soviet- American tensions. 1

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