Walter LaFeber, America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945–1984 (1985).A view of the United States as primarily responsible for the Cold War:“Having failed to budge the Russians in face-to-face negotiations, even when backed by atomic bombs, the State Department next tried to buckle Stalin’s iron fence with economic pressures.… More important, it made American officials ponder the awful possibility that Stalin’s ambitions included not only strategic positions in Eastern Europe, but the imposition of Communist regimes upon Asia and the Middle East. Stating the Soviet dictator’s alternatives in this way no doubt badly distorts his true policies.… Stalin’s thrusts after 1944 were rooted more in the Soviets’ desire to secure certain specific strategic bases, raw materials, and above all, to break up what Stalin considered to be the growing Western encirclement of Russia.… However, American officials saw little reason to worry about such distinctions.”John Lewis Gaddis, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War (1972).A view of the Cold War as caused primarily by Soviet aggression:“If one must assign responsibility for the Cold War, the most meaningful way to proceed is to ask which side had the greater opportunity to accommodate itself, at least in part, to the other’s position, given the range of alternatives as they appeared at the time. Revisionists have argued that American policy-makers possessed greater freedom of action, but their view ignores the constraints imposed by domestic policies.… The Russian dictator was immune from pressures of Congress, public opinion, or the press.… This is not to say that Stalin wanted a Cold War.… But his absolute powers did give him more chances to surmount the internal restraints on his policy than were available to his democratic counterparts in the West.”How does each of these historians see American and Soviet motives in the Cold War? On what basis does each assign primary responsibility for initiating Cold War conflicts? How would each of these historians likely interpret the confrontation over Greece and the Truman Doctrine?
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After World War Two, as Soviet influence grew throughout Eastern Europe, the United States government recognized the importance of economic and military support to countries that seemed most susceptible to Communism or Socialism. In March 1947, President Harry Truman gave an address that laid out the principles behind the policy of containment, largely following the formulation of George F. Kennan of the Foreign Service. Emphasizing freedom of choice for all peoples “to work out their own destinies in their own way,” he vowed economic support for those who were “resisting attempted subjugation by...
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