Was President Truman Responsible for the Cold War? Essay

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President Harry Truman came into office right at the end of World War II, after the death of President Franklin Roosevelt. Almost immediately after becoming president, Truman learned of the Manhattan Project, and had to decide whether or not to use the atomic bomb. With the advice of James Byrnes, Secretary of State, Truman decided to drop two atomic bombs on Japan, in part to demonstrate America’s power to the world and gain a political advantage in Europe (Offner 294). After World War II ended, there were negotiations about Germany, and it was decided that Germany would be split into two halves; the western half would be controlled by the United States and its allies, while the eastern half would be controlled by the Soviet Union. This …show more content…
Truman’s other bargaining chip was the atomic bomb. When urged to send an early warning to Japan and try to avoid using the atomic bomb, Truman refused, a decision which Offner believes was made because of Truman’s “need to demonstrate his authority” (Offner 292). Offner argues that the use of two atomic bombs, the second one being militarily unnecessary, made Stalin feel as if the bombs were used as a threat to him, a feeling which pressured him into creating an atomic bomb for the Soviet Union. When bargaining with Stalin over Germany, Truman showed no interest in any form of agreement, and because of his stubbornness, Germany remained separated until the 1990 (Offner 300). Offner asserts that actually negotiating the situation in Germany and not dropping the atomic bombs could have prevented, or at least greatly lessened, the Cold War, and because of Truman, these things did not happen.

Instead of blaming Truman, John Lewis Gaddis claims that the Cold War was primarily Stalin’s fault, because of his expansive imperialistic desires. Gaddis claims that Stalin tried to secure the Soviet Union by expanding his spheres of influence (Gaddis 302). Stalin pushed the boundaries of his empire as far as he could without causing direct conflict, and Gaddis speculated that there was little resistance to his imperialism at first because…

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