What did Joseph Stalin do in the Cold War?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Stalin’s approach to the Cold War alternated between the ideological and the pragmatic, but veered mainly towards the latter. In ideological terms Stalin was committed to the Marxist-Leninist worldview that conflict between the capitalist and communist powers was inevitable and that the latter would ultimately triumph.

On the other hand, Stalin often displayed considerable pragmatism in how he conducted relations with the West during the early years of the Cold War. A notable example of this is his policy in relation to the Korean War. Initially, Stalin was lukewarm to the idea of North Korea invading the South. He was concerned above all to maintain a balance of power in the Far East and didn’t unduly want to antagonize the United States or give the impression that the USSR was reneging on its commitments to the United Nations.

However, once he became convinced that the United States wouldn’t intervene to help South Korea in the event of an invasion, Stalin went along with Kim Il-Sung’s proposals. Yet even here, Stalin was motivated primarily by opportunism rather than revolutionary zeal. And the subsequent low-key involvement of Soviet men and materiel indicates that Stalin was unwilling to take unnecessary risks, while at the same time remaining perfectly happy to reap the benefits of his allies’ recklessness. Indeed, it was this cynical exercise in realpolitik that angered the much more ideologically driven Chinese, souring Sino-Soviet relations for decades to come.

A similar dynamic can be observed in Stalin’s policy towards Europe. On the face of it, he showed a commitment to the establishment of communist governments in those countries already occupied by Soviet troops. But the main reason for doing so was the defense of the Soviet Union rather than any notion of spreading the communist revolution worldwide. At the same time, an element of political ideology was at play here. Stalin wanted to create a large buffer zone of communist states which he could control and which would be used as a means of defending the USSR in the event of an insurgency by the West as part of the final confrontation between the capitalist and communist powers that he thought both inevitable and desirable.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Joseph Stalin was one of the most important figures in the entire Cold War.  You could say that he was the cause of the Cold War.  Whether he was the cause or not, he was certainly one of the most important actors in the beginning of the Cold War.

Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union from the 1920s until his death in 1953.  This means that he was the center of power in the USSR during the years in which the Cold War was beginning.  His attitudes towards the West and towards Eastern Europe helped to bring about the Cold War.

Stalin wanted to have a large buffer zone of Eastern European countries to be under his control.  He wanted them to protect the Soviet Union from invasion from the West.  Because of this, he was determined to keep control of Eastern Europe after WWII.  His determination to dominate Eastern Europe helped to scare the West and push it to take a more aggressive anti-communist line.  Stalin’s actions, such as the blockade of West Berlin, helped to solidify the antagonism between the two sides.

Thus, what Stalin did in the Cold War was to help create the atmosphere of mutual animosity that drove that conflict.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Joseph Stalin played a big role in the Cold War. Near the end of World War II, he began to violate some of the agreements that were made with the other Allied countries. For example, Stalin violated the Declaration of Liberated Europe. This agreement stated that countries under German rule during World War II would have the option of having a democratic government after the war ended. However, the King of Romania said he was pressured to have a communist government. Stalin also agreed to have free elections in Poland after the war ended, which didn’t appear to occur.

After World War II ended, Stalin created communist governments under Soviet control in countries that bordered or were near the Soviet Union. He wanted these countries to serve as a form of protection or as a buffer in case of an attack by the Allies. Stalin also wanted communism to spread to other countries in Western Europe. He also blockaded the routes into West Berlin, which led to the Berlin Airlift by the Allies to keep the Soviets out of West Berlin.

Joseph Stalin played a big role in the Cold War.

chansion | Student

I believe one of the most significant thing that Stalin did (as said above) was the remove democratic ideas. To enforce this, he also created the Secret Police, if you said anything or have done anything against the Government, you would be kidnapped and eventually killed. That also includes people to run for the Government against Stalin, he will eventually take out all enemies that are running against him.

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