The Historiography of the Origins of the Cold War Essay

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The Historiography of the Origins of the Cold War


There have been many attempts to explain the origins of the Cold War that developed between the capitalist West and the communist East after the Second World War. Indeed, there is great disagreement in explaining the source for the Cold War; some explanations draw on events pre-1945; some draw only on issues of ideology; others look to economics; security concerns dominate some arguments; personalities are seen as the root cause for some historians. So wide is the range of the historiography of the origins of the Cold War that is has been said "the Cold War has also spawned a war among historians, a controversy over how the Cold War got started, whether or not it was inevitable, and
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George Kennan, the architect of the Long-Telegram, was one of the leading voices, publishing the traditionalist viewpoint both privately in the Long Telegram of 22 February 1946, as well as publicly in the anonymous article "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" in the July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs (McCauley 9). Soon after, most of the Western world joined Kennan in the view that: "at the bottom of the Kremlin's neurotic view of world affairs is traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity"(McCauley 131). Kennan warned that, "they have learned to seek security only in patient but deadly struggle for total destruction of rival power, never in compacts and compromises with it" (McCauley 131).

Indeed, this sentiment that the Russian side had no desire to compromise was echoed by many Western academics, including Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who wrote in the article "The Origins of the Cold War" in the October 1967 Foreign Affairs:

There is no corresponding evidence on the Russian side that anyone seriously sought a modus vivendi in these terms. Stalin's choice was whether his long-term ideological and national interests would be better served by a short-run truce with the West or by an immediate resumption of pressure. In October 1945, Stalin indicated to Harriman at Sochi that he planned to adopt the second course… (McCauley 111).

Both Kennan and Schlesinger place the blame for the…

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