After post revisionist look at is why

After the Second World War the once traditional enemies were forced to
put their ideological differences asides and reconstruct the post World War II
World however during this period of time the differences in ideologies were
pronounced and caused the Cold War. Each side demonstrated unjustified actions
towards the other in different instances but what post revisionist look at is
why they did and if the answer to this question was the root cause to the Cold
War. This answer showed that the differences of communism and capitalism hindered
the US and the USSR from working  harmoniously due to their opposing political ideology.
Therefore meant each action was construed as an aggressive act. The
post-revisionist school of thought uses this concept to reject placing complete
blame onto one superpower. The causes of the Cold War have remained under much
debate, creating three differing schools of thought until the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991. Orthodox and Revisionist historiography were simplistic
schools of thought, inadequate in assessing the causation of the Cold War. Both
Orthodox and Revisionist historians neglected the joint responsibility of the
Cold War, and failed to evaluate the difference in ideology between the two
superpowers, which was the underpinning cause of tension between the east and
the west. The post-revisionist interpretation is the most coherent school of
thought, as this historiography evaluates their mutual responsibility, as it
states the Cold War was based on miscalculated steps due to the each opposing
sides inability to comprehend the other’s way of thought  as a result of two overpowering ideology
ingrained in both countries. The historical distance from the events of the
Cold War and access to Soviet archives, enabled post-revisionists to adopt a
far more sound argument. As these historians were not submerged in the events
of war, this school of thought allowed them to take a secondary stance in
examining who was to blame for the Cold War.

The revisionist
school of thought emerged in the 1960s, blaming America for the causes of
the  Cold War.The alternative
perspective, which flourished when the consensus over foreign policy in the
United States was crumbling during the Vietnam War, held the US responsible for
the Cold War. This school of thought explained the onset of the Cold War in
terms of ‘dollar diplomacy.’ Revisionists see the motives behind U.S. foreign
policy as inherently linked to the needs of Capitalism. Thus, containment of
Communism was driven by the requirement to secure markets and free trade, and
penetrates Eastern Europe. This followed on from the United States’ traditional
‘open door’ policy of the late 19th century. Leffler is an American historian
who first emerged as a revisionist but after two decades to reflect further
,adopted the post revisionist school of thought. It can be seen in his early
works as a revisionist that he too did not believe that the offset of the cold
war was due to the irrational American foreign policy. He subtly touches on the
reasons for the US’s ‘aggressive’ actions ;misconceptions of the soviets
imperial desires; as post revisionist do ,but avoids dwelling too into it. He
frequently avoids confronting these post revisionist elements in his argument
by providing excuses for soviet actions therefore understating the role the
soviet played.

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Problems in
‘American civilisation, in the origins of the Cold War’ by Mevelyn P. Leffler
suggests that western powers no longer cared for defensive, but offensive
measures against the Soviet Union, removing all war time alliances. In this
particular chapter he explains how the origins for such a “war” are deeply
rooted in the policies of the United States, he expands on this statement by
saying that the Cold War was caused by the US’s ‘imperial appetite’. Leffler
paints the view that the outward American aggression stemmed from three areas
of concern: security, establishing an economic monopoly, and the geopolitics in
Europe, all of which if achieved would mean that the US could call themselves
the undisputed world power.

Leffler argues
that it was the USA’s need to establish hegemonies across the globe that caused
a basis of suspicion and forced the USSR to act aggressively- in an attempt to
protect their ideology. He persistently comments on the US’s determination to
establish their power, he explains that the US was “preoccupied with the
geopolitical balance in Europe and Asia,”1
but fails to mention what these areas were. His lack of precise evidence
decreases the reliability of his work. He also fails to talk about Russian
expansion in Eastern Europe, particularly in Bulgaria, Poland and Romania.
Unlike post-revisionists, he doesn’t expand on the fact that the Cold War was
the product of both sides aim to be deemed the most dominant and influential superpower.
Leffler tries to point out that that the soviets were not planning to establish
a communist takeover or world revolution however fails to understand that even
trying “to gain hegemony by political and economic means” 2,
would cause tensions as the strong capitalist mindset of the US government
would not make valid excuses for the reasons behind the USSR hegemony aim.
These ‘excuses’ would include the fact the USSR felt vulnerable to attacks post
war so needed the support of other countries in order to be safe. Not to
mention at this moment of time the avoidance of these post war confrontations
were not viable alternatives since preoccupation of soviet position in Eastern
Europe meant aroused opposition in senate and endangered Roosevelt’s re-election
prospects.

Suspicion was
within the structure of both systems; America believed that nothing would stop
the Soviets in their tracks apart from them being the sole world power, they
viewed communism as a direct threat to their capitalist interests. As long as
communism should remain, the USA would undoubtedly hold suspicion, because of
the ideological differences. The extent of suspicions is manipulated by Leffler
by saying that the US never had the intentions to better their relationship
with the USSR who pose as a threat to this balance “by communist exploitation
of economic, social, and political unrest”3.
This evidence is incorrect as the United States did make a number of
conciliatory moves such withdrawing the claim that Poland should remain completely
ideologically free from the influences of communism. Between 1948 and 1951,
more than $13 billion was funneled to 16 countries through the Marshall Plan,
contributing significantly to the reconstruction of Western Europe. The United
States was also ready to provide help to the USSR and Eastern Europe, but the
Soviet Union flatly refused to participate in the aid program. Leffler does not
mention Soviet suspicion which could easily be identified by the creation of
the Warsaw Pact and rejections for Marshall aid as it was perceived to be
undermining communism and in effect Russia.In such case, it is accurate to say
that the ideological caused  suspicion
which amounted to a miscalculation of events and ultimately lead to a Cold War.

Unlike Leffler,
Post revisionists credit both sides of what is seen as the underpinning reason
to the cold war –ideological differences and appreciate that upon the
completion of World War II, both United States and Soviet Union found
themselves in the position of being a superpower. Therefore the United States
and the Soviets desired to spread the influence of communism and capitalism on
a global scale. Like most revisionists Leffler does not recognize both sides
can be the aggressor, in turn meant he did not accept the action to reaction
game presented by the US and USSR.  In
fact policy makers in the US and USSR were constantly weighing each other’s
intention as they perceived them and modified accordingly, as shown by the
military assistance programs in turkey Iran and then Latin America. For
instance Iran was used for oil protection, for bases and staging areas near the
Soviet Union, this was  based on the
assumption that soviet intentions of imperialism were fixed and unswerving
.Both sides decided at Potsdam that the other was impossible, and they just
stopped talking to each other especially as there was a change of leaders from
the British and American side who were even more suspicious of Stalin. The huge
event which often painted as the peak of the Cold War tensions – the atomic
bomb is another example of a Stalin’s highly paranoid state misjudging the
atomic bomb as a direct threat to Russia and its communist expansion. The fact
that since he was not involved in the invasions of Nagasaki and Hiroshima
probably made him feel even more alienated, putting another dent to his ego
could mean he misjudged the situation.  However
it is important to note several reports have claimed that the Japanese were
ready to surrender and negotiate prior the dropping of the bombs however the US
still carried through with it. This indicates that the USA did have other
intentions to say the least and the most likely intention was to add to the potential
of pressurizing the USSR into negotiating over Eastern Europe and Germany and
overall to belittle the USSR so they did not continue perusing it’s communist
revolution (thought by the capitalist Americans).  Post-revisionist would stress that the
American actions were caused by the difference in ideology which often meant
both parties failed to effectively communicate with each other due to the
reluctance to comprehend one another’s intention behind their actions.

While majority of
his argument is revisionist he has some elements that resemble the post revisionist
views which are the more balanced and substantiated arguments. Unlike Gaddis
Leffler does not explicitly state that the US and USSR’s policy were made by
“preconceptions shaped by personalities, ideology, political pressures,
ignorance and nationality” rather flirts with the idea. His revisionist stance
lacks coherency due to the lack on precise evidence which is demonstrated
through his discounted recognition of the Soviet’s actions. The soviet actions
were formed by Stalin’s heightened paranoia and clearly the push for communism
,hence he fails to acknowledge why the cause of the Cold War can be placed on
the USSR.  The main critique of this work
is he under analyses a lot of events through his simplistic statements such as
referring to America’s need to spread capitalist and defeat communism if
America wanted to secure its borders, its economy and its right to spread
liberalism.

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