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Iron Curtain Speech

After long years of World War II, there was a vacuum of both political and economic power in the middle of Europe. The Soviet Union began filling it as its influence crept westward from Moscow. The communist ideology of Stalin was in direct opposition to the democratic free markets of the West. The leaders of the United States and Great Britain saw the vulnerability of the still-recovering states in Europe as a dangerous liability. In this climate, Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain speech would change the geopolitical climate from rebuilding to the delicate balance of superpowers that would dominate the Cold War for over four decades.

Iron Curtain Speech

In the speech, Churchill clearly defines the shift in the West's relationship with the USSR from the alliance of World War II to one of growing tension. The formation of “a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States” would help counterbalance the rising threat of the “expansive and proselytizing tendencies" of the Soviet Union. The predictions did not stop there as Churchill also makes reference to problems in Asia—a foreshadowing of the coming Vietnam War.

Despite Churchill's dire warning, the world was headed straight into the depths of a Cold War that would spread across the globe as countries chose between the United States and the Soviet Union. Almost forty years after Churchill’s Sinews of Peace speech, President Reagan would echo Churchill’s words of warning in a speech of his own. “From Stettin on the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea, the regimes planted by totalitarianism have had more than thirty years to establish their legitimacy. But none -- not one regime -- has yet been able to risk free elections. Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root.” Churchill and Reagan would eventually both be proven right as Communist Russia fell just a decade later.

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