The Cold War
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A Cold War research paper will discuss the set of causes out of which the Cold War arose and the set of causes that brought it to its end. With respect to the first we will argue that:
- The roots of the conflict lay in the attitudes of the Soviet leadership, attitudes engendered by the unique historical experience of Russia.
- We shall also argue that the fear and hostility embedded in those attitudes was exacerbated by ideological conflict.
- With respect to the reasons that the Cold War ended, we will argue that this occurred because the Soviet Empire, bankrupt with respect to political legitimacy, and almost economically bankrupt as well, collapsed of its own weight.
Cold War History
Your research should note that in 1946, George Kennan, a young State Department expert on the Soviet Union, wrote an 8,000-word telegram to his colleagues in the department. Somewhat edited and altered, the substance of this telegram was later published under the nom de plume "X" in the July, 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs. In the telegram Kenyan talked about the historical experience of the Russians. They had been an agricultural people dwelling on an exposed plain and had suffered invasion from the South and East by the Tatars. Later in their history they had been attacked from the West by the Teutonic knights, by Napoleon's France, by Western military elements in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution, and by Hitler's Germany. Those experiences had produced a Russian mind-set that was of a rather implacable nature, a mind-set foreign to that of Western diplomats.
Stalin and The Cold War
You may want to show in your research paper that the behavior of the Soviet leadership, particularly in the Stalin and early Khruschev years, before the concept of "peaceful coexistence" began to be bruited about, bears out Kennan's thesis. The Soviet's were intransigent with respect to their occupation of Eastern Europe and with respect to Berlin. In 1956-7 they reluctantly, but brutally put down the Hungarian revolt. Their diplomatic rhetoric and diplomatic demeanor, throughout the early years of the Cold War, was aggressive, truculent, and marked by crudity through the use of Game theory in the Cold War. One of the unforgettable images of the Khruschev years was his performance at the UN in the late fifties when he was seen banging his shoe on his desk, and when he told the West, "We will bury you."