The blame for the Cold War cannot be placed on one person -- it developed as a series of chain reactions as a struggle for supremacy. It can be argued that the Cold War was inevitable, and therefore no one's fault, due to the differences in the capitalist and communist ideologies. It was only the need for self-preservation that had caused the two countries to sink their differences temporarily during the Second World War. Yet many of the tensions that existed in the Cold War can be attributed to Stalin's policy of Soviet expansion. It is necessary, therefore, to examine the role of Stalin as a catalyst to the Cold War.
Stalin's foreign policies contributed an enormous amount to the tensions of the Cold War. His aim, to take advantage of the military situation in post-war Europe to strengthen Russian influence, was perceived to be a threat to the Americans.
Stalin was highly effective in his goal to gain territory, with victories in Poland, Romania, and Finland. To the western world, this success looked as if it were the beginning of serious Russian aggressions. The western view of the time saw Stalin as doing one of two things: either continuing the expansionist policies of the tsars that preceded him, or worse, spreading communism across the world now that his "one-state" notion had been fulfilled. It also must be mentioned that Stalin is seen as wanting "unchallenged personal power and a rebuilt Russia strong enough to withstand 'capitalist encirclement.'"1
Admittedly, the first view of Stalin, as an imperialist leader, may be skewed. The Russians claim, and have always claimed, that Stalin's motives were purely defensive. Stalin's wished to create a buffer zone of Communist states around him to protect Soviet Russia from the capitalist West. In this sense, his moves were...