Did the USSR directly start the Cold War?

Essay by KeirHigh School, 11th grade April 2006

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The Origins of the Cold War is a high debated topic. There are countless reasons why the Cold War developed between 1945-1949. For starters, the West and the Soviet Union had a clash of ideologies. The West firmly stood by capitalism while the Soviets had a fanatic belief in Communism. Because of this clash of ideologies, the Soviet's choice in sending troops into Eastern Europe right after the Nazi's had vacated, made tensions even worse. Traditionalists believe that the Cold War was caused by Soviet aggression. Therefore, everything the United States did was to try and contain the Soviet Union. Anything done by the Soviets that were considered "aggressive" was countered by US action. Post-1991 historians say that the Cold War was a result of the West's fear of the Soviet Union gaining power. Therefore, to a certain extent, Soviet policies were responsible for the origins of the Cold War.

The Yalta Conference could be considered the beginning of the Cold War. On February 4th, 1945 the Big Three met in the palace that once belonged to Czar Nicholas in Russia to discuss the future of Europe. The Second World War was still raging on and all three countries wanted to remain Allies. The Soviets demanded $20 billion dollars in reparations, three seats in the United Nations, and other various pieces of territory including Outer Mongolia, and the Kuriles. Stalin agreed to set up a provisional Polish government of unity and help the freed people of Eastern Europe set up their own democratic, self-governing countries. But President Roosevelt was far too idealistic. They all talked big but little was actually done. It was literally race for Berlin. Stalin possessed the largest army in all of Europe; he had twelve million soldiers in over three hundred divisions. While Eisenhower had in...