Cold War (1945–91)

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Student Question

Why was the US eager to confront the Soviet Union after 1945?

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I think that the United States was keen on challenging the Soviet Union for a couple of reasons.  The first was that American power was at its zenith after the Second World War.  Europe in shambles, Asia and Africa uncertain, America was experiencing an unprecedented level of growth and military might after World War II.  To be able to exercise this in terms of being seen as the preeminent world superpower was a motivation in confronting the Soviet Union.  Another reason why the United States was so keen on confronting the Soviet Union was evidenced in the lack of understanding that the former had towards the latter.  The United States simply failed to understand the Soviet Union.  In this "other," thinkers like Kennan's "Long Telegram" made much in way of sense, suggesting that the only acceptable approach to proceed is to define strong and tough approaches to the Soviet Union.  Thinkers like Kennan established the understanding that conflict with the Soviet Union was either inevitable or something that the Soviet Union actively sought given its own attitude towards capitalism and the West.  The hardline approach failed to effectively understand "the other," making direct confrontation in as many forums as possible something that was coveted and keenly sought by American political and military interests at the time.

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