Relationship between United States and Soviet Union during Cold War
United States and Soviet Union’s tensions were increasing and on edge leading up to, during, and after the Cold War. The conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States has two very different sides, creating different ways to place responsibility. The Soviet and US conflict began before the Cold War and continued on throughout. At the end of the WWII, Germany was defeated and split up among the victors. Because of this division, in 1948, conflict arose in the planning of how to run the country and attempt to rebuild it. The US policies differed from the Soviet’s and the overall ideology among the two superpowers were among the differences that later lead to an even bigger conflict.
Just before the end of WWII, the Allied countries met in Potsdam, Germany for a conference. The resulting agreements of the conference dealt with issues such as how to rule conquered Germany and prevent it from rising as a military threat in Europe again. The Potsdam agreements also laid the foundations for the developing Cold War by specifying the division of Germany into spheres of influence, ruled over by the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union. (Potsdam 1) The countries all took their fair share of Germany in hopes of rebuilding the country. The Soviet Union continued to work on its own, while the US and Great Britain formed an alliance. The Soviet Union’s eastern half, contained the capital city, Berlin. Berlin was also divided into four parts, one half being Soviet. (Halvorsen 1) Great Britain and the US had control of the other half. The Potsdam conference was a first look at conflict between the US and USSR that would continue to develop over the next few years. While they both had the intention of what in their minds was going to help Germany improve, their ideas did differ. Stalin wanted to rid Germany of its economic power, while on the other hand, the US aimed to rebuild Germany’s industry and boost their economy. The US claimed that Stalin was trying to force the US out of Berlin. At the same time, the policies that the US began implementing were argued by the Soviets as trying to wreck the east German economy. The Soviets believed that overall, this conflict was planned by the US and intended to make the Cold War worse.
It could be argued that one of the first conflicts that arose, was introduced by the US. On March 31, 1948, US Congress voted for a plan called Marshall Aid. In the plan, George C. Marshall attempts to create a policy in which the European people, especially in Germany, will be able to thrive economically with the aid of other countries such as the US. (Marshall 9) Even though the US Congress agreed with and passed the plan, Stalin had a different viewpoint. Stalin believed that the US’s only reason for creation of Marshall Aid was to undermine the Soviets and Russian influence in Germany and Eastern Europe. This not only angered the Soviets, but also encouraged them to initiate a new policy of their own. Immediately following the start of Marshall Aid, the Soviets began stopping and searching all traffic into Berlin. It can be argued that the creation and implementation of Marshall Aid was a small cause of an even larger conflict. Shortly after the Aid was implemented, the US announced that they wanted to create a new currency in West Berlin. Many of the Eastern Germany people began to change their money into the new West Berlin currency because they believed that it was worth more. In response to the currency introduction, the Soviets immediately stopped all road and rail traffic into Berlin. (Soviet 1) Although the US’s actions can be seen as only attempting to aid the development of Berlin, the Soviets thought otherwise. The Soviets believed that the only reason the US was taking these actions, was to stop any chance of Soviet rule spreading. The implementation of the Berlin Blockade started a conflict that would continue, constantly increasing the US’s desire to help and obtain their ideal outcomes for Berlin. Although the Blockade was in place, the US found a way to continue aid to Berlin and the Soviets continued to attempt to shoot down US’s policies. (Bennett) Soviets argued that the bringing about of the blockade was an action necessary to take in response to US actions. The Soviets believed that although the US saw the blockade as an inconvenience, these difficulties were occasioned by the actions of the Governments of the US , (Soviet 3) therefore making the blockade the US’s own fault, and that they could not impose an airlift.
Although it can be argued that the the Berlin Blockade was the fault of the US, it can also be seen as the fault of the Soviets. The US called attention to the fact that the Soviets blocked off land that they, per the end of WWII, were not in charge of. The US argued that the conflict was a violation of the administration agreement and that because of the blockade that was imposed, the airlift was completely allowed. The US didn’t believe they were at fault. They believed they were only doing their job as an occupying power, by implementing policies that would unknowingly cause this blockade. After the blockade had been implemented, the US began airlifting resources to Berlin to help the citizens. The US argued that there would be no need for the airlift, had the US not been denied right of free access to its sector of Berlin. (US 2) It can be seen that all the US attempted to do in response to the blockade was continue to help Berlin, therefore they were not at fault. Many ads were placed out in hopes of American support. For instance, a US aircraft company called for larger, faster types of aircraft designed exclusively for air transport. (Douglass) This shows the US, and US businesses, were getting everyone involved in the airlift and helping Berlin in general. Over the time of the airlift, Berlin was sustained by US aid. (Universal) US planes and soldiers risked their lives to deliver food and water, along with other resources to ensure that the people of Berlin had the amenities necessary to survive until the blockade was withdrawn. (McCarthy 9) The US showed support of Berlin all throughout and even after the crisis. In 1963 President Kennedy gave a speech in which he alludes to the fear of communism in Germany. He goes on to further explain that he stands with the Germans and will not stop fighting until they are all free.
Throughout history, disagreements in policy have created conflict. Countries attempt to outwork or overshadow other countries in hopes of winning the power. The actions taken by the Soviets in response to the US policy implementation caused a cycle of conflict. Therefore it seems as if the US was responsible for the actions taken by the Soviets in implementing the blockade. Placing responsibility on the US acknowledges the reasoning of the Soviets for imposing the blockade. However, evidence also shows where the Soviets could be responsible for the conflict as they were the ones who actually implemented the blockade. The Berlin crisis can be seen as a conflict started by the US, but increased by Soviet actions. It was responsible for significant tensions between the US and Soviet Union throughout the Cold War and beyond.