Origins of Cold War and the Containment Policy

Cold war refers to the tension that existed between the Soviet Union and the United States during the post World War II period. This was a result of failure by both countries to agree on the way forward after the war especially on whether to incorporate Capitalism or Communism into other countries. Despite these tensions, there was no physical war between the two countries and their allies. The origins of the Cold War can be traced back to the Bolshevik Russian revolution of 1917 that created tension between the Soviet Union and the United States as a result of Soviet’s aim of spreading Communism throughout the world. However, this slowed down when the countries formed an alliance during World War II. After WW II, the tension resurfaced due to a number of reasons such as fate of Eastern Europe, the issue on nuclear weapons and post war economic aid. The cold war lasted for approximately 50 years though historians are still not sure of the exact date when the Cold War came to an end.

The annexation of various States by the Soviet Union at the end of WW II marked the beginning of what came to be referred as the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. The States that were annexed to the Soviet Union include Poland, Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland and a section of Czechoslovakia. This caused tension over the state of political affairs in Europe with fears that the Soviet Union was spreading Communism in the region. This resulted into the formation of various alliances to counteract the spread of Communism in Europe and the world thereby resulting in Cold War. Secondly, Soviet Union had a strong conviction that the United States had an intention of controlling nuclear energy. As a result, in 1946, Soviet Union declined to sign an agreement that intended to place the regulation of Nuclear energy to an international body. Consequently, Soviet Union went ahead and continued the production of nuclear energy and weapons resulting into Cold War between the two countries. Lastly, there was drift between the two countries over the provision of aid to help in the reconstruction of countries that had suffered from WW II. As a result of lack of consensus, tension arose between them leading to Cold War. The countermeasures that were being adopted by each country to out do each other resulted in what was referred to as containment (Mintz, 2007).

Containment occurred during the Cold War period in two main form namely; military and economic support to the States that were considered vulnerable to influence from Communism. The containment policy was proposed by George Kennan in 1947 that was meant to cushion against communism expansion. United State became the first country to practice Containment when President Truman decided to finance Greece and Turkey in 1947 after Britain become bankrupt. This was in an effort to prevent Soviet’s communism influence in these countries. Consequently, Truman convinced the congress to give 400 million aids to Turkey and Greece to Cushion against Soviet interference in these countries. The second form of containment by the United States came in 1948 with the implementation of the Marshall plan proposed by George Marshall. In this plan, United States called on all European countries to come together to provide financial aid to countries that were facing economic difficulties. Russia was also invited but withdrew from the plan and as a result, made the Congress to pass the proposal faster to counteract any attempt by the Soviet Union to spread communism in Europe. This heightened the tension between the two countries thus contributing to the cold war (Mintz, 2007).

The containment was also seen on the issue of German’s fate where, the Soviet Union failed to agree on the occupation of German territory and as a result, both the United State and the Soviet Union sought to help Germany in different ways resulting into the formation West Germany which was initiated by the U.S and its allies. This led to the creation of two Germany States namely; West Germany funded by the U.S and East Germany Funded by the Soviet Union. Consequently, the tension between the West and the East intensified leading to the Cold War. Lastly, there was the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by the U.S government together with other European countries to offer each other assistance in cases of attack. As a countermeasure, the Soviet Union together with its allies formed the Warsaw Pact thereby intensifying the Cold War situation (Mintz, 2007).

The containment continued until the end of Cold War when the Soviet Union began to disintegrate. It is not clear as to the exact date the Cold War came to an end since some historians allege that it came to an end in 1990’s while others say it ended in the 70’s. In conclusion, it can be asserted that containment is what precipitated the Cold War to further heights. This can be easily seen through other wars such as the Korean War and the Chinese revolution which were supported and funded by capitalists on one hand and communists on the other hand with the aim of accomplishing the containment policy.

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