Rise of Soviet Union Power and the Fall of U.S.-USSR Relations: United States and Soviet Union in the Post-World War II Period
The onset of 20th century in the history of human society is characterized by three important events that changed the present socio-political landscape of nations of the world today: World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. These events are linked with each other, with the First World War being the primary reason for the eventual development and declaration of the Second World War. Similarly, WWII became one of the precursors that triggered the Cold War.
The Cold War, a long-term conflict between the Communist states in the Eastern region and the United States, began after WWII, wherein the rise in the popularity and increasing influence of Socialist (Communist) ideology was happening. While the rise of Communism became popular in USSR, China, and other countries like Vietnam and Korea, United States centered its attention in curbing Communism through the Soviet Union, since the nation is the prime mover in embracing and applying Marx’s ideology of a socialist society.
This paper discusses and analyzes three important events before and during the Cold War period that chronicles the eventual ‘fall’ of the “Grand Alliance” between U.S. And USSR. These three events are enumerated as follows: (1) the breakdown of U.S.-USSR ties after WWII due to socio-political differences and incompatibilities; (2) integration of the Marxist-Leninist ideology into Russian society after WWII; and (3) U.S. President Harry Truman’s declaration of its Containment Policy against Communist countries, with special focus on USSR.
What led to the breakdown of U.S.-USSR ties after WWII was a gradual process towards hostility between the two countries. The Grand Alliance that was formed during the war was but a strategy in order to fulfill each country’s need and goal to gain control over other countries in Europe and the world as well. This objective is essential to each country’s goal in becoming a superpower, especially since European countries suffered after the war, and were in dire need of aid from other countries, such as the U.S. and/or USSR. According to Henriksen (1997), “[t]he already emergent cold war gained real definition when the Soviets refused to relinquish control over Eastern Europe and the “iron curtain” fell across Europe” (16-7). In effect, the antagonistic relationship between the two countries, coupled with incompatible and contradicting decisions towards the formulation and implementation of foreign and international policies, led the way towards the breakdown of the Grand Alliance that existed between the U.S. And USSR during the WWII.
Power and control over Europe is an event that marked the Soviet Union’s agenda for world domination — that is, to popularize Communism to the world by influencing each nation to the said ideology. In fact, the U.S. felt threatened more by the onset of Communism in Asia and Eastern Europe more than Soviet Union seizing control over the nations in the said regions. This is because Communism and the establishment of a Socialist human society contradict the credo of democracy and capitalism advocated by the Americans. Thus, since the U.S. felt threatened that a new “world order” will emerge from the spread of Communism with the world’s most populous nations; it developed a program with which the adverse effects of Communism to the ideology of democracy and capitalism will be curtailed.
The extent up to which the Soviet Union attempted to influence the world of its ideology is reflected in its program to establish socialist regimes in the Third World countries, which includes the regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America (Roberts, 1995:4). Indeed, history shows that the Soviet Union successfully influenced the Asian nations in embracing the Communist ideology, and this success was met with hostility by the United States, becoming actively involved in both the Vietnam and Korean Wars.
The Containment Policy of Harry Truman marked the official declaration of the Cold War, a blatant manifestation that indeed, there exists hostility between the U.S. And USSR. The former allies of WWII are now competing for world domination through propaganda and arms race. Both the U.S. And USSR was opposing forces of two predominant ideologies of their period: U.S. is the bastion of democracy and capitalism, while the Soviet Union is the model of a Communist and Social society, the new world order. In his declaration of the containment policy in March 1947, Truman characterized a Communist-Socialist society (the Russian society) as a “second way of life,” wherein “…life is based upon the will of the minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression… And the suppression of personal freedoms.”
Clearly, the break-up of the Grand Alliance between the U.S. And USSR is socially- and politically-motivated. Their role as superpowers during the WWII cultivated each country’s objective to create their respective “new world order,” where one country would reign and control over other countries of the world. The eventual downfall of the U.S.S.R. experiment towards Socialism and ongoing hostility against the U.S. For its imperial character/nature illustrates how both countries failed to dominate the world — that is, the fall of two countries who thought they have the right to control all human societies of the world.
Henriksen, M. (1997). Dr. Strangelove’s America: Society and Culture in the Atomic Age. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Roberts, B. (1995). Order and Disorder after the Cold War. Cambridge: MIT Press.
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