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a 500 word essay responding this questionTruman Doctrine
I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. – -President Harry Truman (March, 1947)
Based on the information in the textbook readings and the arguments presented in the assigned documents, do you agree with President Truman’s assessment of the proper goals of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War? To what extent was this policy followed in the period discussed in this week’s readings? Do you feel that this should be the foreign policy of the U.S. today?
Truman Doctrine – Address before a joint session of Congress
President Harry S. Truman
United States, March 12, 1947
Mr r. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Congress of the United States:
The gravity of the situation which confronts the world today necessitates my appearance before a joint session of the Congress. The foreign policy and the national security of this country are involved.
One aspect of the present situation, which I wish to present to you at this time for your consideration and decision, concerns Greece and Turkey.
The United States has received from the Greek Government an urgent appeal for financial and economic assistance. Preliminary reports from the American Economic Mission now in Greece and reports from the American Ambassador in Greece corroborate the statement of the Greek Government that assistance is imperative if Greece is to survive as a free nation.
I do not believe that the American people and the Congress wish to turn a deaf ear to the appeal of the Greek Government.
Greece is not a rich country. Lack of sufficient natural resources has always forced the Greek people to work hard to make both ends meet. Since 1940, this industrious and peace loving country has suffered invasion, four years of cruel enemy occupation, and bitter internal strife.
When forces of liberation entered Greece they found that the retreating Germans had destroyed virtually all the railways, roads, port facilities, communications, and merchant marine. More than a thousand villages had been burned. Eighty-five per cent of the children were tubercular. Livestock, poultry, and draft animals had almost disappeared. Inflation had wiped out practically all savings.
As a result of these tragic conditions, a militant minority, exploiting human want and misery, was able to create political chaos which, until now, has made economic recovery impossible.
Greece is today without funds to finance the importation of those goods which are essential to bare subsistence. Under these circumstances the people of Greece cannot make progress in solving their problems of reconstruction. Greece is in desperate need of financial and economic assistance to enable it to resume purchases of food, clothing, fuel and seeds. These are indispensable for the subsistence of its people and are obtainable only from abroad. Greece must have help to import the goods necessary to restore internal order and security, so essential for economic and political recovery.
The Greek Government has also asked for the assistance of experienced American administrators, economists and technicians to insure that the financial and other aid given to Greece shall be used effectively in creating a stable and self-sustaining economy and in improving its public administration.
The very existence of the Greek state is today threatened by the terrorist activities of several thousand armed men, led by Communists, who defy the government’s authority at a number of points, particularly along the northern boundaries. A Commission appointed by the United Nations security Council is at present investigating disturbed conditions in northern Greece and alleged border violations along the frontier between Greece on the one hand and Albania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia on the other.
Meanwhile, the Greek Government is unable to cope with the situation. The Greek army is small and poorly equipped. It needs supplies and equipment if it is to restore the authority of the government throughout Greek territory. Greece must have assistance if it is to become a self-supporting and self-respecting democracy.
The United States must supply that assistance. We have already extended to Greece certain types of relief and economic aid but these are inadequate.
There is no other country to which democratic Greece can turn.
No other nation is willing and able to provide the necessary support for a democratic Greek government.
The British Government, which has been helping Greece, can give no further financial or economic aid after March 31. Great Britain finds itself under the necessity of reducing or liquidating its commitments in several parts of the world, including Greece.
We have considered how the United Nations might assist in this crisis. But the situation is an urgent one requiring immediate action and the United Nations and its related organizations are not in a position to extend help of the kind that is required.
It is important to note that the Greek Government has asked for our aid in utilizing effectively the financial and other assistance we may give to Greece, and in improving its public administration. It is of the utmost importance that we supervise the use of any funds made available to Greece; in such a manner that each dollar spent will count toward making Greece self-supporting, and will help to build an economy in which a healthy democracy can flourish.
No government is perfect. One of the chief virtues of a democracy, however, is that its defects are always visible and under democratic processes can be pointed out and corrected. The Government of Greece is not perfect. Nevertheless it represents eighty-five per cent of the members of the Greek Parliament who were chosen in an election last year. Foreign observers, including 692 Americans, considered this election to be a fair expression of the views of the Greek people.
The Greek Government has been operating in an atmosphere of chaos and extremism. It has made mistakes. The extension of aid by this country does not mean that the United States condones everything that the Greek Government has done or will do. We have condemned in the past, and we condemn now, extremist measures of the right or the left. We have in the past advised tolerance, and we advise tolerance now.
Greece’s neighbor, Turkey, also deserves our attention.
The future of Turkey as an independent and economically sound state is clearly no less important to the freedom-loving peoples of the world than the future of Greece. The circumstances in which Turkey finds itself today are considerably different from those of Greece. Turkey has been spared the disasters that have beset Greece. And during the war, the United States and Great Britain furnished Turkey with material aid.
Nevertheless, Turkey now needs our support.
Since the war Turkey has sought financial assistance from Great Britain and the United States for the purpose of effecting that modernization necessary for the maintenance of its national integrity.
That integrity is essential to the preservation of order in the Middle East.
The British government has informed us that, owing to its own difficulties can no longer extend financial or economic aid to Turkey.
As in the case of Greece, if Turkey is to have the assistance it needs, the United States must supply it. We are the only country able to provide that help.
I am fully aware of the broad implications involved if the United States extends assistance to Greece and Turkey, and I shall discuss these implications with you at this time.
One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is the creation of conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work out a way of life free from coercion. This was a fundamental issue in the war with Germany and Japan. Our victory was won over countries which sought to impose their will, and their way of life, upon other nations.
To ensure the peaceful development of nations, free from coercion, the United States has taken a leading part in establishing the United Nations, The United Nations is designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence for all its members. We shall not realize our objectives, however, unless we are willing to help free peoples to maintain their free institutions and their national integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian regimes. This is no more than a frank recognition that totalitarian regimes imposed on free peoples, by direct or indirect aggression, undermine the foundations of international peace and hence the security of the United States.
The peoples of a number of countries of the world have recently had totalitarian regimes forced upon them against their will. The Government of the United States has made frequent protests against coercion and intimidation, in violation of the Yalta agreement, in Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. I must also state that in a number of other countries there have been similar developments.
At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one.
One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.
The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.
I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.
I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.
I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.
The world is not static, and the status quo is not sacred. But we cannot allow changes in the status quo in violation of the Charter of the United Nations by such methods as coercion, or by such subterfuges as political infiltration. In helping free and independent nations to maintain their freedom, the United States will be giving effect to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
It is necessary only to glance at a map to realize that the survival and integrity of the Greek nation are of grave importance in a much wider situation. If Greece should fall under the control of an armed minority, the effect upon its neighbor, Turkey, would be immediate and serious. Confusion and disorder might well spread throughout the entire Middle East.
Moreover, the disappearance of Greece as an independent state would have a profound effect upon those countries in Europe whose peoples are struggling against great difficulties to maintain their freedoms and their independence while they repair the damages of war.
It would be an unspeakable tragedy if these countries, which have struggled so long against overwhelming odds, should lose that victory for which they sacrificed so much. Collapse of free institutions and loss of independence would be disastrous not only for them but for the world. Discouragement and possibly failure would quickly be the lot of neighboring peoples striving to maintain their freedom and independence.
Should we fail to aid Greece and Turkey in this fateful hour, the effect will be far reaching to the West as well as to the East.
We must take immediate and resolute action.
I therefore ask the Congress to provide authority for assistance to Greece and Turkey in the amount of $400,000,000 for the period ending June 30, 1948. In requesting these funds, I have taken into consideration the maximum amount of relief assistance which would be furnished to Greece out of the $350,000,000 which I recently requested that the Congress authorize for the prevention of starvation and suffering in countries devastated by the war.
In addition to funds, I ask the Congress to authorize the detail of American civilian and military personnel to Greece and Turkey, at the request of those countries, to assist in the tasks of reconstruction, and for the purpose of supervising the use of such financial and material assistance as may be furnished. I recommend that authority also be provided for the instruction and training of selected Greek and Turkish personnel.
Finally, I ask that the Congress provide authority which will permit the speediest and most effective use, in terms of needed commodities, supplies, and equipment, of such funds as may be authorized.
If further funds, or further authority, should be needed for purposes indicated in this message, I shall not hesitate to bring the situation before the Congress. On this subject the Executive and Legislative branches of the Government must work together.
This is a serious course upon which we embark.
I would not recommend it except that the alternative is much more serious. The United States contributed $341,000,000,000 toward winning World War II. This is an investment in world freedom and world peace.
The assistance that I am recommending for Greece and Turkey amounts to little more than 1 tenth of 1 per cent of this investment. It is only common sense that we should safeguard this investment and make sure that it was not in vain.
The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died. We must keep that hope alive.
The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms.
If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world — and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own nation.
Great responsibilities have been placed upon us by the swift movement of events.
I am confident that the Congress will face these responsibilities squarely.
Printable version: Truman Doctrine
Original source: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/trudoc.asp
Edited by: Jordi Getman-Eraso
NSC 68 Report on American National Security
Paul Nitze
Washington, DC, 1950
I. Background of the Present Crisis
Within the past thirty-five years the world has experienced two global wars of tremendous violence. It has witnessed two revolutions–the Russian and the Chinese–of extreme scope and intensity. It has also seen the collapse of five empires–the Ottoman, the Austro-Hungarian, German, Italian, and Japanese–and the drastic decline of two major imperial systems, the British and the French. During the span of one generation, the international distribution of power has been fundamentally altered…
Two complex sets of factors have now basically altered this historic distribution of power. First, the defeat of Germany and Japan and the decline of the British and French Empires have interacted with the development of the United States and the Soviet Union in such a way that power increasingly gravitated to these two centers. Second, the Soviet Union, unlike previous aspirants to hegemony, is animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own, and seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world. Conflict has, therefore, become endemic and is waged, on the part of the Soviet Union, by violent or non-violent methods in accordance with the dictates of expediency. With the development of increasingly terrifying weapons of mass destruction, every individual faces the ever-present possibility of annihilation should the conflict enter the phase of total war.
On the one hand, the people of the world yearn for relief from the anxiety arising from the risk of atomic war. On the other hand, any substantial further extension of the area under the domination of the Kremlin [the Soviet Union] would raise the possibility that no coalition adequate to confront the Kremlin with greater strength could be assembled. It is in this context that this Republic [the United States] and its citizens… stand in their deepest peril.
The issues that face us are momentous, involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself. They are issues which will not await our deliberations. With conscience and resolution this Government and the people it represents must now take new and fateful decisions.
II. Fundamental Purpose of the United States
The fundamental purpose of the United States is… to assure the integrity and vitality of our free society, which is founded upon the dignity and worth of the individual.
Three realities emerge as a consequence of this purpose: Our determination to maintain the essential elements of individual freedom, as set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights; our determination to create conditions under which our free and democratic system can live and prosper; and our determination to fight if necessary to defend our way of life…
III. Fundamental Design of the Kremlin [Soviet Union]
The fundamental design of those who control the Soviet Union and the international communist movement is to retain and solidify their absolute power, first in the Soviet Union and second in the areas now under their control. In the minds of the Soviet leaders, however, achievement of this design requires the dynamic extension of their authority and the ultimate elimination of any effective opposition to their authority.
The design, therefore, calls for the complete subversion or forcible destruction of the machinery of government and structure of society in the countries of the non-Soviet world and their replacement by an apparatus and structure subservient to and controlled from the Kremlin… The United States, as the principal center of power in the non-Soviet world and the bulwark of opposition to Soviet expansion, is the principal enemy whose integrity and vitality must be subverted or destroyed by one means or another if the Kremlin is to achieve its fundamental design.
IV. The Underlying Conflict in the Realm of ideas and Values between the U.S. Purpose and the Kremlin Design
A. NATURE OF CONFLICT
The Kremlin regards the United States as the only major threat to … [worldwide] slavery under the grim oligarchy of the Kremlin…
The free society values the individual as an end in himself, requiring of him only that measure of self-discipline and self-restraint which make the rights of each individual compatible with the rights of every other individual. The freedom of the individual has as its counterpart, therefore, the negative responsibility of the individual not to exercise his freedom in ways inconsistent with the freedom of other individuals and the positive responsibility to make constructive use of his freedom in the building of a just society…
For the free society does not fear, it welcomes, diversity. It derives its strength from its hospitality even to antipathetic ideas. It is a market for free trade in ideas, secure in its faith that free men will take the best wares, and grow to a fuller and better realization of their powers in exercising their choice.
The idea of freedom is the most contagious idea in history, more contagious than the idea of submission to authority…
The antipathy of slavery to freedom explains the iron curtain, the isolation, the autarchy of the society whose end is absolute power. The existence and persistence of the idea of freedom is a permanent and continuous threat to the foundation of the slave society; and it therefore regards as intolerable the long continued existence of freedom in the world. What is new, what makes the continuing crisis, is the polarization of power which now inescapably confronts the slave society with the free.
V. Soviet Intentions and Capabilities
A. POLITICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL
The Kremlin’s design for world domination begins at home. The first concern of a despotic oligarchy is that the local base of its power and authority be secure…
Being a totalitarian dictatorship, the Kremlin’s objectives in these policies is the total subjective submission of the peoples now under its control. The concentration camp is the prototype of the society which these policies are designed to achieve, a society in which the personality of the individual is so broken and perverted that he participates affirmatively in his own degradation…
With particular reference to the United States, the Kremlin’s strategic and tactical policy is affected by its estimate that we are not only the greatest immediate obstacle which stands between it and world domination, we are also the only power which could release forces in the free and Soviet worlds which could destroy it. The Kremlin’s policy toward us is consequently animated by a peculiarly virulent blend of hatred and fear. Its strategy has been one of attempting to undermine the complex of forces, in this country and in the rest of the free world, on which our power is based. In this it has both adhered to doctrine and followed the sound principle of seeking maximum results with minimum risks and commitments. The present application of this strategy is a new form of expression for traditional Russian caution. However, there is no justification in Soviet theory or practice for predicting that, should the Kremlin become convinced that it could cause our downfall by one conclusive blow, it would not seek that solution…
V. Soviet Intentions and Capabilities
C. MILITARY
The Soviet Union is developing the military capacity to support its design for world domination. The Soviet Union actually possesses armed forces far in excess of those necessary to defend its national territory. These armed forces are probably not yet considered by the Soviet Union to be sufficient to initiate a war which would involve the United States. This excessive strength, coupled now with an atomic capability, provides the Soviet Union with great coercive power for use in time of peace in furtherance of its objectives and serves as a deterrent to the victims of its aggression from taking any action in opposition to its tactics which would risk war…
VI. U.S. Intentions and Capabilities–Actual and Potential
A. POLITICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL
Our overall policy at the present time may be described as one designed to foster a world environment in which the American system can survive and flourish. It therefore rejects the concept of isolation and affirms the necessity of our positive participation in the world community…
[Our policy of containment] is one which seeks by all means short of war to (1) block further expansion of Soviet power, (2) expose the falsities of Soviet pretensions, (3) induce a retraction of the Kremlin’s control and influence, and (4) in general, so foster the seeds of destruction within the Soviet system that the Kremlin is brought at least to the point of modifying its behavior to conform to generally accepted international standards.
It was and continues to be cardinal in this policy that we possess superior overall power in ourselves or in dependable combination with other likeminded nations. One of the most important ingredients of power is military strength. In the concept of “containment,” the maintenance of a strong military posture is deemed to be essential for two reasons: (1) as an ultimate guarantee of our national security and (2) as an indispensable backdrop to the conduct of the policy of “containment.” Without superior aggregate military strength, in being and readily mobilizable, a policy of “containment”–which is in effect a policy of calculated and gradual coercion–is no more than a policy of bluff…
VII. Present Risks
B. SPECIFIC
It is quite clear from Soviet theory and practice that the Kremlin seeks to bring the free world under its dominion by the methods of the cold war. The preferred technique is to subvert by infiltration and intimidation. Every institution of our society is an instrument which it is sought to stultify and turn against our purposes. Those that touch most closely our material and moral strength are obviously the prime targets, labor unions, civic enterprises, schools, churches, and all media for influencing opinion. The effort is not so much to make them serve obvious Soviet ends as to prevent them from serving our ends, and thus to make them sources of confusion in our economy, our culture, and our body politic. The doubts and diversities that in terms of our values are part of the merit of a free system, the weaknesses and the problems that are peculiar to it, the rights and privileges that free men enjoy, and the disorganization and destruction left in the wake of the last attack on our freedoms, all are but opportunities for the Kremlin to do its evil work…
At the same time the Soviet Union is seeking to create overwhelming military force, in order to back up infiltration with intimidation. In the only terms in which it understands strength, it is seeking to demonstrate to the free world that force and the will to use it are on the side of the Kremlin…
But there are risks in making ourselves strong. A large measure of sacrifice and discipline will be demanded of the American people. They will be asked to give up some of the benefits which they have come to associate with their freedoms. Nothing could be more important than that they fully understand the reasons for this. The risks of a superficial understanding or of an inadequate appreciation of the issues are obvious and might lead to the adoption of measures which in themselves would jeopardize the integrity of our system. At any point in the process of demonstrating our will to make good our fundamental purpose, the Kremlin may decide to precipitate a general war, or in testing us, may go too far. These are risks we will invite by making ourselves strong, but they are lesser risks than those we seek to avoid. Our fundamental purpose is more likely to be defeated from lack of the will to maintain it, than from any mistakes we may make or assault we may undergo because of asserting that will. No people in history have preserved their freedom who thought that by not being strong enough to protect themselves they might prove inoffensive to their enemies…
Conclusions
Our position as the center of power in the free world places a heavy responsibility upon the United States for leadership. We must organize and enlist the energies and resources of the free world in a positive program for peace which will frustrate the Kremlin design for world domination by creating a situation in the free world to which the Kremlin will be compelled to adjust. Without such a cooperative effort, led by the United States, we will have to make gradual withdrawals under pressure until we discover one day that we have sacrificed positions of vital interest…
The only sure victory lies in the frustration of the Kremlin design by the steady development of the moral and material strength of the free world and its projection into the Soviet world in such a way as to bring about an internal change in the Soviet system. Such a positive program–harmonious with our fundamental national purpose and our objectives–is necessary if we are to regain and retain the initiative and to win and hold the necessary popular support and cooperation in the United States and the rest of the free world…
After a decision and a start on building up the strength of the free world has been made, it might then be desirable for the United States to take an initiative in seeking negotiations [with the Soviet Union] in the hope that it might facilitate the process of accommodation by the Kremlin to the new situation. Failing that, the unwillingness of the Kremlin to accept equitable terms or its bad faith in observing them would assist in consolidating popular opinion in the free world in support of the measures necessary to sustain the build-up.
In summary, we must, by means of a rapid and sustained build-up of the political, economic, and military strength of the free world, and by means of an affirmative program intended to wrest the initiative from the Soviet Union, confront it with convincing evidence of the determination and ability of the free world to frustrate the Kremlin design of a world dominated by its will. Such evidence is the only means short of war which eventually may force the Kremlin to abandon its present course of action and to negotiate acceptable agreements on issues of major importance.
The whole success of the proposed program hangs ultimately on recognition by this Government, the American people, and all free peoples, that the cold war is in fact a real war in which the survival of the free world is at stake. Essential prerequisites to success are consultations with Congressional leaders designed to make the program the object of non-partisan legislative support, and a presentation to the public of a full explanation of the facts and implications of the present international situation. The prosecution of the program will require of us all the ingenuity, sacrifice, and unity demanded by the vital importance of the issue and the tenacity to persevere until our national objectives have been attained.
Print version: nsc68.doc
This edition edited by: Seth Offenbach
https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/nsc-68/nsc68…
Aftermath ◆ Creating the United Nations The unprecedented loss of life and property during the Second World War convinced the members of the Allied coalition that an international agency dedicated to preventing such catastrophes was essential. President Roosevelt had campaigned for a new global organization almost as hard as he had worked to defeat the Axis powers. As far back as January 1942, the Allies had pledged to support political and economic freedom and maintain harmonious international relations after the defeat of Fascism. Still, the problems of creating a viable international organization, given the collapse of the League of Nations, were immense. In many respects the 1942 Declaration of the United Nations reflected America’s naive expectation that freely elected governments, guaranteed citizen rights and liberal capitalist economies would surely follow victory. By the time the United Nations Charter was signed on April 25, 1945, in San Francisco, those expectations had faded, but the work went forward. The United Nations went into operation in London in January 1946 when Trygve Lie (1896–1968) of Norway was elected its first Secretary General. The organization quickly took its current form. Modeled on Western ideas of government, the United Nations possesses legislative, executive, and judicial branches, although these branches do not have the same powers as the branches of a national government. The General Assembly forms the “lower” house of the “legislature.” All member nations have one vote in the General Assembly, which elects the Secretary General and deals with issues of human rights, economic development (through its Economic and Social Council), decolonization (through its Trusteeship Council) and international order. The General Assembly has the right to meditate, condemn, and impose economic sanctions, but it cannot enforce its decisions. The power to use military force rests with the “upper” house, the Security Council. The five largest Allied powers—the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, and (Nationalist) China—were awarded permanent seats on the Security Council. The other members of the General Assembly organized themselves into regional groups, with each group electing one of its members to fill a rotating seat on the Council. The number of rotating seats has been increased over the years but the only change in the permanent seats has been the substitution of Communist for Nationalist China. Two rules apply to votes taken in the Security Council: all measures must be passed by a majority vote, and each permanent member has an absolute veto over all Council measures. The veto assured the Allied powers that measures against their interests would not move forward—and satisfied Congress that American sovereignty would not be violated—but it also prevented the United Nations from taking action in cases where the superpowers were divided. The Security and Peacekeeping forces are made up of soldiers from the member nations and cannot be sent into any country without that country’s express request. The Secretariat, headed by the Secretary General, acts as the “executive” branch of the United Nations, supervising its bureaus worldwide. The Secretary General often acts as the organization’s chief diplomat and mediator. The International Court of Justice established at The Hague in the Netherlands functions as the “judicial” branch of the United Nations. It resolves disputes between any two members that wish to bring a case before it. However, without an international state to The Modern World: A History 230 9300033_CH08_p205-236.qxp:930003_ch08_p205-236 5/21/09 12:49 PM Page 230 enforce it, international law lacks the sanction power of national law. Therefore, the Court cannot force members to appear before it or enforce its decisions on its own. Shifting from temporary locations in London and Geneva, the United Nations was given a permanent home in the United States. In 1952 a complex of buildings was erected on land donated by the Rockefeller family in New York City, and for more than half a century the leaders of the world have convened in Manhattan in search of world cooperation.
◆ A Framework for Peace No one single treaty or general peace conference marked the end of World War II (1939–1945). The new world order was put together piece by piece in an era of shifting political alignments. The borders of Germany were redrawn at the Potsdam Conference (1945): the southern section of East Prussia was given to Poland, the northern section to Russia. Several territorial adjustments were not resolved until 1947: Italy’s recently acquired African empire was disbanded and a small portion of the Italian province of Venezia was given to Yugoslavia; one province of Finland went to Russia; Hungary lost territory to Czechoslovakia and Romania, while Romania lost territory to Russia and Bulgaria. But none of these reallocations directly addressed the problem of maintaining peace and creating equality within multi-national states. Relatively modest reparations were imposed on the Axis Powers and their satellite states, ranging from $70 million for Bulgaria to $360 million for Italy. When the United Nations received its Charter in 1945, the Axis Powers and their satellites were originally excluded from membership, as were the formally “neutral” states such as Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain. A growing internationalism marked war settlement and world. One important attempt to foster shared values was made when the Grand Alliance put dozens of their former enemies on trial in Nuremberg, Germany. No such proceedings had followed World War I, when only a few German officers had been convicted in national trials; the Kaiser had been permitted to live out his life in exile. But the unprecedented crimes of the Nazi regime seemed to require a definitive world response. Since it was impossible for the millions who supported the Nazis to be put on trial, the major powers—the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and France—convened an International Tribunal to hold representative Nazi figures accountable. Twenty-two German leaders from the government, the army, the police, and industry were the first to be tried in Nuremberg. At the end of their year-long trial, nineteen were found guilty of conspiracy to wage aggressive war and crimes against humanity. The defense of just “following orders” was not accepted as an excuse for committing atrocities. Although Hermann Göring (1893–1946), Luftwaffe chief and director of Hitler’s economic planning, escaped judgment by committing suicide, a dozen Nazi leaders were hanged in 1946 and the rest imprisoned. At additional trials over a three-year period, judges, doctors, and corporate officials were brought before the bar of international justice. Similar trials in the Far East brought 28 Japanese defendants before a panel of eleven international judges. The most prominent defendant was former Prime Minister To–jo–, who was hanged along with six other Japanese leaders in December 1948. Historians, politicians, and legal experts still debate the legality, the efficacy, and the morality of the sentences and the tribunals that imposed them. ◆ Occupied Japan On August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito told his nation that the “unendurable must be endured” and announced that Japan would surrender to the Grand Alliance. Having used biological weapons against China and terribly mistreated prisoners of war, the Japanese expected a harsh World War II and Its Aftermath 231 9300033_CH08_p205-236.qxp:930003_ch08_p205-236 5/21/09 12:49 PM Page 231 occupation. As six million Japanese soldiers slowly made their way home from areas they had once conquered, American General Douglas MacArthur was given the task of remodeling Japan and overseeing its return to the world community. That task was made easier in December 1945 when the Truman Administration, in an unofficial arrangement, agreed to Soviet control of Bulgaria and Romania in return for a free hand in Japan. For the next six years MacArthur ruled the island nation as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), with dictatorial power. His first job was demilitarization. While only seven Japanese officials had been executed for their role in World War II, over 200,000 soldiers and administrators were removed from the positions from which they had directed the imperial war effort. The stranglehold of the samurai class on the government of Japan was broken. The next issue was the reform of the government itself. At first many Japanese believed that the United States intended to end their monarchy, but because American policy permitted Emperor Hirohito to retain his title, the population became more supportive of the proposed changes. State Shinto, the combination of native Japanese animism and emperor worship that had been a distinctive feature of traditional Japan, was abolished: the Emperor was now no more than the ceremonial head of state. A new constitution, written in 1947, created a parliamentary democracy in which the population elected all the members of both houses of the legislature (the Diet), guaranteed all citizens freedom of speech, religion, and the press, and made all citizens equal under the law by eliminating noble rank and giving the vote to women as well as to men. The first elections had already been held in 1946, when the newly formed Liberal Party led by Yoshida Shigeru (1878–1967) began its still almost unbroken string of electoral triumphs. MacArthur initiated a series of social reforms to be completed by the new government. The educational system was purged of teachers who had actively supported military aggression: 25 percent of all teachers were replaced. To bring the benefits of higher education to a greater number of Japanese, MacArthur increased compulsory education for both sexes from six years to nine, made co-education the norm rather than the exception, decentralized control of the secondary schools which were set up on American models, and introduced global social studies into the Japanese curriculum. Textbooks were rewritten to give Japanese students a more realistic view of their country’s past behavior. Even before the new textbooks were ready, the military carefully blackened out what it considered ultra-nationalistic bias in Japanese textbooks: anything about the royal family’s descent from the Sun Goddess, Japan as a “divine” nation, or glorifying war was covered over with black marker. As part of the de-militarization of Japan, women were guaranteed equal access to a university education for the first time and women were put in charge of dormitories for female students, but at the level of dean or higher, university administration reverted to an all male club once the occupying troops had withdrawn from Japan. MacArthur’s land reforms created a thriving class of small farmers while American-encouraged labor unions began to play a role in industrial life. The largest of the vertically integrated industrial syndicates were broken up as well, although they would soon reform along modified lines. Because American aid rebuilt Japan’s economy along with its cities, the American occupation helped provide the foundation for the “economic miracle” that began in the 1950s and transformed Japan into one of the largest economies in the world. This economic powerhouse would prove to be a peaceful powerhouse. The new Japanese constitution included a clause renouncing “war as a sovereign right of the nation.” The new Japan had only self-defense forces and relied on the United States military for wider protection. A peace treaty ending World War II was signed on September 8, 1951, and under its terms the United States secured the right to have military bases on Japanese territory. To help ease international concerns about a rebuilt Japan, the United States also signed mutual security pacts in 1951 with Australia and New Zealand (the ANZUS Pact) and with the Philippines. The Modern World: A History 232 9300033_CH08_p205-236.qxp:930003_ch08_p205-236 5/21/09 12:49 PM Page 232 World War II and Its Aftermath 233
◆ Occupied Germany According to the agreements reached at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences in 1945, Germany was to be divided into three zones of occupation with each of the three occupying powers—the Soviet Union, the United States and Great Britain—in charge of “de-Nazification,” demilitarization, and re-education within its respective zone. With the consent of the United States and Great Britain a fourth zone was carved out of their territories for French occupation. Berlin, the German capital since 1871, was inside the Soviet zone, but it was similarly divided among the four powers. Each occupying power was also given the authority to exact reparations in the form of capital equipment and external assets, but not out of current production. The partition was not intended to be permanent. Progress towards rehabilitation was to be rewarded by re-unification. In the western zones, regional parties were allowed to form within the Länder (states) within a year. In the meantime, the western powers placed considerable emphasis on “de-Nazification” within the school system: there were purges of teachers and textbooks. To open up German education, laws were put through to make schools tuition free through high school and to supply students in the public schools with free textbooks, new textbooks were written to restore material once censored by the Nazis, and students and school officials were sent on foreign exchange missions to observe the various educational options available in the west. In the Eastern Zone, however, Soviet officials used “de-Nazification” to replace one educational propaganda with another: the curriculum was re-written only to turn East Germans into good communists. Austria was also divided into occupation zones. It was freed from Allied control and reunited in 1955. Germany, however, would not be re-united until 1990. The reasons for this delay will be discussed in the following chapter. As a military venture, the Second World War (1939–1945) was very different from the First (1914–1918). The First World War had been a war of trenches and fixed positions. The great powers turned their industrialized weapons upon each other only to find they had no effective defenses except to burrow into the ground. The Second World War was highly mobile, making the machine gun-proof tank the centerpiece of its armored forces and relying on wireless technology to keep track of its speeding armies. The First World War saw the introduction of submarine and aerial warfare. The Second brought destroyers to combat the submarines, radar to detect enemy aircraft, and aircraft carriers to bring the air war to the seven seas. The great bombers of the Second War dwarfed the biplanes of the First. The First War brought poison gas; the Second, the atomic bomb. As high as the casualties were in the First War, the improved weaponry of the Second sent the numbers soaring. Military deaths were more than twice as high and civilian deaths three times as high as in the First World War. Every nation involved saw its losses mount, but the nations hardest hit were the Soviet Union, with 29 million dead including 17 million civilians, and China, with 21.4 million dead including twenty million civilians. Property damage was in the trillions of dollars. To feed the vast and deadly armies, fully industrialized economies turned, for the duration, into the largest producers of war machines the world had ever seen. And, in the end, it was those economies that made the difference. It was Germany’s economic strength that allowed Hitler to make his first conquests and, enlarged by the use of slave labor in the conquered territories, to hold an empire greater than Napoleon’s. But it could not last against the combined military might of the United States and the Soviet Union, or even the economic power of the United States alone. The largest economy the world had ever seen was capable not only, it seemed, of endlessly resupplying its own forces, but endlessly resupplying those of its allies as well. No war is, of course, ever won because of a single reason; the strategy and tactics chosen, the size of the armies and the morale and motivation of the opposing forces all play their part. But more than in any previous wars, the balance of economic power tipped the scales in World War II. One final distinction between the two world wars must be mentioned. The horrors of the First World War dealt a blow to the self-confidence of European civilization from which it never entirely recovered, but the Second institutionalized unprecedented mass murder and extermination camps. Attacks on noncombatants had been a minor note in the First World War, but a daily occurrence in the Second, and each attack was rendered more terrible by the deadlier firepower of the Second World War. Japan’s “Rape of Nanking” and Hitler’s Blitz were met by the Allied fire bombings of Dresden (February 13–15, 1945) and Tokyo (March 9–10). While true concentration camps were found only in German and Japanese territory, the internment of civilians was common to both sides. Japanese-Americans found themselves imprisoned within their own country as war fever reached its highest pitch. No outrage, no atrocity, no saturation bombing, however, approached the horror that awaited the liberating armies as they crossed the eastern half of Festung Europa. The piles of half-burned bodies, the walking skeleton survivors, the bales of human hair awaiting recycling as mattress stuffing and human ash as soap—neither words nor pictures will ever capture the horror of Hitler’s assembly line of death. The Cold War was a term coined in 1947 to describe the mounting antagonism between the victorious members of the Grand Alliance that defined superpower relations for some 45 years after the fall of Nazi Germany, as the United States and the Soviet Union competed to win allies and influence national policy around the world. It was fought in the theaters of science, technology, military potential, economic productivity, political ideology, and even in the arenas of athletic competition and artistic achievement. It was a war without a clearly defined beginning and it seemed to have no conceivable end. Then, in 1989, almost without warning, the Soviet bloc began to collapse. Germany was reunited in 1990. The Soviet Union fell apart in 1991. This chapter charts the construction, course, and conclusion of the Cold War. Constructing the Cold War
◆ From Conflicting Aims to Conflict During successive Allied conferences held during the Second World War, it became increasingly clear that the “Big Three” (the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union) had incompatible visions of -war order. Stalin’s main concerns in Europe were strategic security and economic compatibility. This meant achieving political control over the countries on the Soviet Union’s western border, many of which had been Nazi satellites or hostile to communism. It also meant maintaining a controlling influence in post-war Germany. Stalin was determined to prevent a third German invasion of the Russian heartland. Establishing a line of “people’s republics” along the Soviet Union’s European border would serve as a buffer zone against any future German expansion, while providing the Soviet economy with compatible trading partners in the long term and desperately needed capital resources and food in the short. Stalin also expected to be treated as a victorious partner by his capitalist partners in the Grand alliance that had defeated Germany and Japan. He expected to have an equal voice in international affairs. He intended to expand Soviet influence if and when suitable opportunities to do so presented themselves, just as he expected his allies to attempt to expand their spheres of influence. He believed that every state imposed its political system as far as its armies could reach. Great Britain was an imperial power entering a period of economic and political decline. Traditionally, Britain had preserved its own security by maintaining a “balance of power” within Europe: if one state became so strong as to prove a threat to Britain’s interests, Britain would respond by making alliances with other European states to counter-balance it. Now the Soviet Union was about to assume military dominance within Europe. Moreover, whether under the Tsar or under the Communists, Russia had long been Britain’s rival in the Middle East and Central 239 9300033_CH09_p237-266.qxp:930003_ch09_p237-266 5/21/09 4:24 PM Page 239 Asia. In 1943 Churchill had lobbied hard for an Anglo-American invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe from the south rather than from the west. If Allied forces came up via the Mediterranean, they would liberate large portions of southeastern and central Europe before Soviet forces could reach them. This would limit -war sphere of influence available to Stalin. Churchill’s plans, however, had been vetoed by Roosevelt. Roosevelt saw aggressive power politics, competing “spheres of influence,” and imperialist rivalries as the root cause of both world wars. He expected that the combination of America’s role in an Allied victory and America’s economic power would bring about a different world order, one based on the principles in the Declaration of the United Nations signed by the Allies in 1942. This Declaration pledged the Allies to support political and economic freedom for all nations, and to maintain peaceful international cooperation and collective security. The Americans expected their own values to spread swiftly in such a world order. In 1946, the “Big Three” clashed over the future of Iran. Western forces had occupied Iran during the war, but Soviet military forces stationed in northern Iran supported breakaway nationalist movements in Iran’s northern provinces of Kurdistan and Azerbaijan in the hope of turning them into autonomous Soviet client states. The United States and Great Britain backed an Iranian complaint about the USSR made at the first session of the United Nations (January 14, 1946). The Soviet Union agreed to withdraw its forces in return for an oil concession and partial selfgovernment in northern Iran, but American military aid to the Shah of Iran soon helped him repudiate the agreement and crush the separatists. The battle lines hardened throughout 1946. In February, Stalin spoke of Western “enemies,” predicted war between the capitalist and communist systems, and refused to participate in a United Nations plan to control atomic energy. In a “long telegram” from Moscow on February 22, American diplomat George Kennan (1904–2005) warned of historic Russian ambitions to control Central Europe and expand southward towards the Middle East; the solution he proposed was “firm and vigilant containment” of Soviet expansion. On March 5, in a speech given at Westminster College in Missouri, Winston Churchill warned the world that “an iron curtain has descended across the Continent” and behind its cover Soviet-sponsored “police governments” were moving to destroy democracy.1 The Soviet Union was already putting pressure on Turkey to cede its northern province of Kars (a former possession of Tsarist Russia) to the USSR and allow Soviet warships through the Bosporus and Dardanelles, the straits connecting Soviet ports in the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. To coerce Turkey into making those concessions, Soviet troops massed on the border of neighboring Bulgaria. Truman began aiding the modernization of Turkey’s armed forces to counter Stalin’s attempts to control the Bosporus and Dardanelles.
◆ Rebuilding Europe The conflict deepened in 1947. Early in the year it became clear that an independent communist regime in Yugoslavia was using Albania and Bulgaria as conduits for arms shipments, in support of a communist-led insurrection (ELAS) in Greece. British troops had prevented an earlier communist takeover in Athens in 1944, but this time an impoverished British government informed the United States that it could no longer provide military or financial aid to Greece. Unless the United States acted quickly, a communist victory seemed assured. On March 12, President Truman asked Congress for $400 million in military and economic aid for Greece and Turkey. Congress, angered by Stalin’s refusal to settle the future of Germany, agreed. The aid program and the policy that grew out of it have become known as the Truman Doctrine. Truman declared that “it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subversion by armed minorities or by outside pressures,”2 committing the United States to halt the The Modern World: A History 240 9300033_CH09_p237-266.qxp:930003_ch09_p237-266 5/21/09 4:24 PM Page 240 spread of world Communism. In the decades to come a ring of military alliances and dozens of aid packages would follow, but, the immediate effect of the doctrine was to convince Stalin that cooperation with the West was impossible. The coalitions between communists and other anti-Fascist parties he had allowed in Eastern Europe would have to go. Communists seized power in Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, coordinating their rule through the Communist Information Bureau (COMINFORM) set up later that year. World War II had taken an enormous toll on Europe’s productive capacity. Former Allies and Axis members alike were on the verge of bankruptcy, and the winter of 1946–1947 saw the worst European weather in a century. By late spring hunger, power shortages, and inflation were rampant. Such conditions had facilitated the rise of Communist and Fascist dictatorships only a few decades before. The question was how to prevent the cycle from repeating itself. The announcement of the Truman Doctrine and Stalin’s reaction to it made a joint response impossible. The United States decided to act unilaterally. In a speech delivered at Harvard University on June 5, 1947, American Secretary of State George C. Marshall (1880–1959) proposed that the United States fund European economic recovery. The shock of a communist takeover in Czechoslovakia in February 1948 prompted quick acceptance of the Marshall Plan by the American Congress. Enacted into law as the European Recovery Act, the Marshall Plan offered extensive aid grants and guarantees to all the states of Europe. However, while Marshall Plan aid would be channeled through a European administrative body, the United States expected to assume a guiding role in that administration. It also expected to gather economic intelligence about aid recipients. Alarmed by the thought of American economic oversight, Stalin refused to allow any of his European satellite states to participate in the program. Sixteen nations ultimately agreed to accept Marshall Plan aid, and over $13 billion was dispensed between 1948 and 1952, with seven-eighths of it in the form of grants. The Marshall Plan provided the economic foundation for western European recovery. By 1953 the output of the major Marshall Plan recipients was 35 percent above pre-war levels. The Plan undercut the appeal of communism and secured allies and trading partners for the United States. The United States also profited directly from those grants to its European Allies; 70 percent of the aid was spent on goods from the United States. The Soviet Union began its own aid program to its European satellites in 1947. Designed by Vyacheslav Mikhailovitch Molotov (1890–1986), the Russian negotiator of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Molotov Plan also aimed to prevent the formation of ties among the satellites by making their economies individually dependent on the USSR. By January 1949, the Molotov Plan had evolved into the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), charged with coordinating the central economic planning of Eastern Europe. Yugoslavia was the only Eastern European country to escape Soviet control. Since 1945, Yugoslavia had been under the control of communist guerilla forces led by Josip Broz (1892–1980), a Croatian who called himself Marshal Tito. He established a one-party dictatorship and governed a federal state that provided cheap raw materials to the USSR. Not only did Tito refuse to become part of any Soviet “sphere of influence,” he had visions of creating his own “sphere” in communist southeast Europe. It was Tito’s actions that had created the crisis in Greece in 1947. Outraged by Tito’s refusal to follow his lead, Stalin withdrew economic and military aid, expelled Yugoslavia from COMINFORM, and used COMINFORM to enforce a commercial boycott of Yugoslavia that lasted until 1955
. ◆ Arming Europe Postwar life was proving to be very different in the four zones of occupied Germany. The Russians, claiming the reparations promised them at Yalta, were busy stripping their eastern zone of industrial resources, while the three western powers (Britain, France, and the United States) The Cold War 241 9300033_CH09_p237-266.qxp:930003_ch09_p237-266 5/21/09 4:24 PM Page 241 cooperated to reconstruct the economy of their zones under the Marshall Plan. Building on the regional political organizations they fostered in 1946, the three Western allies also convened a congress of Länder (states) legislatures in 1948 to help draft a new constitution for the western zones. Approved by the Allies in the following year, the Basic Law of 1949 created a federal system of modified parliamentary government with checks and balances, judicial review, universal suffrage, limitations on military use, and a mix of proportional and direct representation designed to prevent the sort of breakdown that had led to Hitler’s appointment as chancellor in 1933. Berlin, the capital city of Germany, was located within the portion of Germany under Soviet control. Just like the country, Berlin had been divided into four zones of occupation: Soviet control in the east, and British, French, and American control in the west. At the same time that the three Western powers cooperated to form a new constitution (the Basic Law of 1949) for their portion of Germany, they created a new currency. The Deutschmark replaced the Allied military currency in use since the occupation. While this currency reform stabilized the western German economy it threatened to destabilize the eastern. The Western Allies offered to merge Berlin into the Soviet currency zone if they were given executive powers in the economic administration of the Soviet zone. Stalin demanded an equal say in the administration of western Germany’s steelrich Ruhr Valley in return, and the negotiations broke down. Stalin decided to act. On June 22, 1948, the Soviet Union closed off all overland rail and highway access to Berlin in an attempt to force the Western powers to accept his terms. Truman’s new policy of containment mandated that no further territory be ceded to the Soviet Union. In an unprecedented effort to meet the needs of a city of over 2 million people while avoiding a military confrontation, the Western allies instituted a massive airlift. Using three twenty-mile-wide air corridors, Allied planes landed in Berlin sometimes as often as once every two minutes for the next ten months. Their 277,567 flights helped convince Stalin of the Allied will to maintain a free Berlin. To further intimidate him, the United States also moved two groups of B-29 atomic bombers to Britain to be closer to Berlin. The Soviet Union had yet to construct its first nuclear bomb. Stalin ended the blockade in May 1949. By September the three western zones had been transformed into the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) under the leadership of its first Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer (1876–1967). Less than a month later, Stalin approved the transformation of the Soviet zone into the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). In March 1948, shortly before the blockade began, Ernest Bevin (1881–1951), Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, orchestrated the Treaty of Brussels, in which Britain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands joined together in a mutual defense pact. In April, the American Congress passed the Vandenberg Resolution, authorizing President Truman to conclude defense treaties with nations threatened by the USSR. One year later, in April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created by the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal. The members of this mutual defense pact and collective security agreement were committed not just to treating an attack on one member as an attack against all, but also to establishing a joint military command for the defense of Western Europe. With American troops serving in NATO forces on NATO bases in Western Europe, a first response to Soviet aggression would not be slowed down by the long process of mobilization: American troops were already on the front lines. Stalin’s response was the first successful test of a Soviet atomic bomb on August 29, 1949. By December, Truman authorized the development of the hydrogen bomb, a thermonuclear device far more powerful than the atomic weapons already in use. In April 1950, the National Security Council (NSC) recommended increasing American military spending from $13 to $50 billion per year, or about one-fifth of the country’s total GDP. The recommendation came in a report (NSC-68) underlining the importance of conventional as well as nuclear weapons. According to the author of the report, Paul H. Nitze (1907–2004), if the United States did not globally deploy air, ground, and naval forces “superior” in number and capacity to those of the Soviet Union, “containment” would be nothing but a “dangerous policy of bluff.”3 Events would soon convince Congress to act on NSC-68. In the meantime, NATO continued to expand. Greece and Turkey were admitted to NATO in 1952 as part of the commitment made in 1947 to keep them free of communism. Spain did not join NATO but was drawn into its orbit through a separate treaty with the United States in 1953. And in 1954, the decision was made to admit West Germany to full membership in NATO. The leadership of the Soviet Union decided that a counter alliance was needed. COMINFORM was converted into a defensive military alliance when the Warsaw Pact was signed in May 1955 by the Soviet Union and its satellite states: Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). On either side of what Churchill had called the “iron curtain” dividing Europe, there now stood a military alliance headed by a superpower possessing nuclear weapons. Fighting the Cold War: The Global Front
◆ A Third Power: the Emergence of Communist China When the use of atomic weapons ended World War II in the Pacific, China had been at war with Japan for over eight years. From 1937 to 1945, the long and bitter internal conflict between Chiang Kai-shek and the Communist Party was put aside in favor of a “United Front” against the Japanese invaders. While Communist armies did most of the fighting, Chiang represented China in the Allied Coalition, and his Nationalist government was awarded a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The Chinese United Front quickly fell apart after the surrender of Japan. Soviet troops occupied Manchuria under the terms of the surrender. They used their position to transfer captured military resources to the Chinese Communists who already controlled vast areas of northeast China. President Truman dispatched George Marshall to negotiate an extension of the eight-year truce between the Chinese factions, but open war erupted between the Communists and the Nationalists in 1946. American transport facilities and financial assistance were made available to Nationalist Party leader Chiang Kai-shek. Despite being outnumbered by the Nationalists by more than three to one, a coalition of Communists, peasants, workers, and middle-class supporters led by Mao Zedong (1893–1976) seized an early advantage in the fighting. Most of the cities remained in Nationalist hands. But the identification of the Communist movement with land reform, active resistance to the Japanese, and general incorruptibility gained it great popularity in the Chinese countryside. By the beginning of 1949, Nationalist forces were everywhere in retreat, while expanding Communist armies outfitted themselves with equipment captured from fleeing Nationalists. In a last-ditch effort to negotiate a peace, Chiang gave up the presidency, but to no avail. The Nationalist capital of Nanjing was taken on April 24. As the Communists secured southern China, Chiang confiscated all of China’s gold reserves and led his defeated government into exile on Taiwan, a small island a hundred miles off the China coast. The Nationalists had been making preparations for the move to Taiwan since 1947, but some 10,000 Taiwanese were executed before Chiang’s authority was accepted. Meanwhile, the triumphant Communist Party leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland on October 1, 1949. With over 540 million people, China immediately surpassed the Soviet Union to become the most populous communist state. Unlike its communist neighbor, however, the PRC was still a peasant society. Modernization had to be its first priority, but technical aid was only available through the Soviet Union. In December 1949, Mao traveled to Moscow to solicit Stalin’s help in transforming China into a socialist society. Mao, recognizing that his hold on China was still fragile, was willing to accept the primacy of the Soviet Union within the communist world for the time being. He was rewarded with a 30-year treaty of alliance and pledges of immediate assistance. Mao carried those promises back to a nation whose economy was so weak it had reverted to barter. Broad programs to raise literacy, improve health, and create jobs through public works were quickly instituted. Mao expected that the United States would eventually recognize the new state because America had already accepted the Soviet satellite system in Eastern Europe, but problems in Korea made that recognition unlikely.
◆ War in Korea (1950–1953) and the Widening of Containment Korea had been a divided nation since its Japanese occupiers agreed to surrender it in pieces to the USSR and the USA with the 38th parallel of latitude as the dividing line. Koreans in both halves of the nation hoped for the establishment of a self-governing state free of Japanese control for the first time since 1905. Conflicts between Soviet and American aims ended that hope. The Soviet Union created a Provisional People’s Committee (PPC) for North Korea in February 1946. This de facto communist government was led by Kim Il-Sung (1912–1994), who had gained considerable popularity in Korea by aligning himself with Mao’s struggle against the Japanese. The United States set up a provisional government in the south, half of whose legislative members were appointed by the American occupation. While the United States and the Soviet Union continued to discuss holding unified elections, their disagreements over the proportion of legislative seats between North and South Korea and over which groups could field candidates for office made joint elections impossible. The Russians solidified their hold on the north by transforming the PPC into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Americans backed a government in the south headed by Syngman Rhee (1875–1965). Rhee had spent the years of Japanese control in exile. He had been brought back by the Americans to shore up their shaky client state, whose officials were reliably anti-communist but had spent the last decades collaborating with Japanese rule. Faced with two competing administrations, the United Nations recognized Rhee’s government in December 1948. With American military aid, Rhee crushed a guerilla war waged by communist peasants in rural South Korea. Although Soviet forces left North Korea in December 1948, Russian advisors continued to equip and train its military. American troops pulled out of the south by June 1949. Early the following year, concerned that Mao was replacing him as a revolutionary model for Asia and uncertain of the extent of American commitment to Korea, Stalin approved Kim’s plan for invading the weaker south. Kim’s armies launched their assault against the Republic of Korea on June 25, 1950. Rhee’s capital at Seoul was taken within three days. Truman, incensed by the attack on an American-supported state, asked for a United Nations response. Like any other permanent member of the UN Security Council, the Soviet Union had the power to veto any resolution put before the Council. But the Soviet Union was boycotting the Council in protest over its refusal to recognize Mao’s People’s Republic of China in place of Nationalist China. So, on June 26, with no Soviet Union present to veto the resolution, the UN Security Council condemned Kim’s invasion of South Korea and authorized a joint military defense of the south. Armed with UN approval, Truman committed American forces to battle the next day. By the end of August, United Nations troops had been forced back into a single area in the extreme southeast of the country. On September 15, UN Commander General Douglas MacArthur counterat tacked with a daring amphibious landing far behind communist lines at Inchon. By October he was rapidly approaching the Yalu River, Korea’s border with China. Before MacArthur could destroy all North Korean resistance, the intervention of “volunteer” Chinese units in late November turned the United Nations “police action” into a bloody stalemate. After his Inchon victory, MacArthur publicly campaigned for the extension of UN operations into China with the support of Chiang’s Taiwanese forces, raising the threat of nuclear war. Such posturing led Truman to dismiss MacArthur for insubordination in March 1951. The Korean front returned once again to the 38th parallel. Fighting continued for another two years before a cease-fire was reached in July 1953. Nearly 34,000 Americans and 3 million Koreans and Chinese lost their lives in a war that still has not yet formally ended. American and North Korean troops continue to patrol the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas. Worried by the geographic expansion of the Cold War, Truman increased American military aid to France’s fight against the Communist Viet Minh national liberation movement in French Indochina (modern Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia). The ring of American alliances was expanded eastward. The 1951 security treaty with Japan was followed by the creation of a joint security pact with Australia
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