Activity #4 - Essay " Truman was more responsible for the Cold War than Stalin was". President Truman was convinced from the beginning that Stalin intended to take over countries based solely by the fact that there were communist parties present in them. France, Italy and even China, are perfect examples of this. And in the Greek civil war it wasn't the USSR that was giving aid to the communists, it was Yugoslavia. It was obvious that Stalin had no major plans for any kind of global communist domination. But nevertheless, Truman placed the blame for the growing popularity of communism's 'political poison' on Stalin, and convinced the American people to share his outlook.
Without even looking at the fact that no USSR troops were in Greece, Truman and his advisers jumped on the chance to put forward their 'domino theory'. This was a theory that said that if the communists won the Greek civil war, the end result would be Russian control of the whole middle east. He used this theory to justify military intervention in Greece, and ultimately, his 'Truman Doctrine' telling the entire world that the US was ready for a war. He told the 'free peoples' of the world that the time had come to choose between alternative ways of life - the communist way, or the democratic way. Stalin did not do this. President Truman worked with the British Prime Minister to introduce the Deutschmark into West Berlin.
While it did eventually achieve his goal of creating an economically viable Germany, it clearly violated agreements made at the Potsdam Conference to treat occupied Germany as a single economic entity. President Truman in early July made a public show of sending three squadrons of B-29 bombers -- the planes designated to carry atomic bombs -- to England and Germany. The aircraft did not carry any atomic bombs, no one had any way of knowing that. In rushing the reconstruction of West Germany because of an irrational fear of communist takeover, Truman only increased hostility and moved the US into another war. He should have consulted more often with the Soviets on currency issues and industrial policy. The president exaggerated Berlin's importance, and his tough posturing made the crisis last longer than necessary and increased the danger of armed conflict.
It was not wise of him to publicly threaten the use of atomic weapons. Truman's actions were, in fact, reckless because they risked war over an area that possessed political rather than military significance. In the presidential election of November 1948, Truman polled twenty-four million votes to the Republican opposition's twenty-two; Truman's primary aim was to enhance national prestige and score a political victory. In conclusion, Truman was constantly ready with very strong charges against communism, but they were all misleading and misinforming.
Truth, justice, international understanding, and peace - goals of decent people everywhere - are not served by dividing the world into 'good guys' and 'bad guys,' into saints and devils, into 'free peoples' and followers of an Anti-Christ. His prejudice impeded on his ability to correctly negotiate with the Soviets and Stalin on any kind of level - something that was vital to the conservation of peace. Truman's imposition as the political, economic, military, and ideological leader of the anti-Soviet, anti-Communist, and anti-leftist forces in the world led to the break-up of the war-time alliance and the suspicion, hostility, anxieties, fears and military conflicts that marked the beginnings of the Cold War. For this, I believe President Truman must accept the major responsibility for the outbreak of the Cold War.