Essay: “Reply to Churchill”, he is responding to Churchill’s’

Essay:
Pablo López Yagüe

 

After
the end of WWII, the Soviet Union, Britain and the United States of America had
been fighting alongside one and other since the 8th of December 1941. Hence,
how come this Grand Alliance uniting the leading world superpowers with the
same aim of defeating Nazi Germany was due to collapse and emerge as two
separate blocs? The Grand Alliance was certainly one of convenience to fight
against the Axis Powers, however the opposed ideologies between the worlds
greatest capitalist state, the greatest communist state and the greatest
colonial power was marked by tensions and disagreements. Nevertheless, it is
evident that Stalin’s response to Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech in 1946 and
Kennan’s Telegram in 1946 accelerated its collapse and affected foreign policy
decisions.

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In Stalin’s
“Reply to Churchill”, he is responding to Churchill’s’ “Iron Curtain Speech” which
encompasses the threat of the Soviet Union and its sphere of influence and the presence
of communism within its sphere, openly expressing his opposition to communism
as such that had to be “strangled in the cradle”. Stalin’s reply seems rather
condescending and cold, virtually provoking European nations to instigate war
against Russia. Stalin associates Churchill’s words with those of Hitler and
his friends in contrast to the racial theory, invoking that Churchill believes
that only English speaking nations are fully valuable nations. By doing so
Stalin separates blocs between non-English speaking nations and English speaking
nations, allowing him to place such blame on Churchill and Britain’s aims. However,
Churchill had specified in his Iron Curtain Speech “that a new war is
inevitable” and that Britain had desires for peace, Stalin distorted
Churchill’s words to make seem like Britain had set the foundations to initiate
war against the USSR. 

 

In the ‘Long Telegram’ send to the Department of State,
George Kennan asserts in great detail his assessment on the USSR, and U.S.A’s
foreign policy toward the communist community. He proclaimed in his memorandum that
the Soviet Union could not forestall “permanent peaceful coexistence”,
perceiving the Soviet ideology as being coated with more antique Russian values
of wanting to reject the outside world and destroy it by any means necessary. Most
importantly, in his conclusion Kennan outlines his beliefs, which later become
the foundations for American policy for upcoming 20 years. Firstly, he
specified that the communists were huge threats and that the US could never work
towards a “permanent modus vivendi”
and accommodate themselves with the Soviets as they were determined to destroy the
USA. However, Kennan made abundantly clear that “the problem is within our
power to solve”, hence the Soviets could be defeated. In this regard, Kennan can
be viewed as a prophet for ending the Grand Alliance and setting the stage for
the Cold War.

 

The USSR and the USA became very suspicious of each other by
March 1946; they had different beliefs and very different aims. Whilst the USA
and Britain wanted to help Germany recover, and protect democracy, the USSR or
Stalin wanted a ‘buffer’ of friendly states in order to protect them against
invasion and big reparations from Germany. Moreover, the resentment about
history made both nations very suspicious of each other. Finally, the two big
conferences: Yalta in 1943 and Potsdam in 1945. On the surface the Yalta
conference seemed successful, however tension was growing behind the scenes. At
the Potsdam conference, the tensions and conflicts finally came out in the open.
To some extent, USSR’s actions were to blame, their aggressive policies and
efforts to take over Eastern Europe and the whole world created the conditions,
which created hostility. In response, the US strengthened its foreign policy in
the face of the USSR adapting its policy to strengthen its position.
Sequentially, in March 1947 Trumann implemented the Marshall Plan, promising
America that the USA would assist any country if threatened by communism and
impose containment; a geopolitical scheme to impede communism from spreading, effectively
designing foreign policies to contain Soviet expansion.

                                                                                                                             

Unlike the Allied powers who coordinated military and
foreign policies to create institutions to promote their shared interest of creating
a peaceful post-war and prevent the establishment and maintenance of a “new
order of things” by the Axis Powers, the Axis Powers had two common interests:
destroy the USSR and gain territorial expansion for “Lebensraum”, ultimately overthrowing
the international order. This is best captured in the bombings of Vienna
(Appendix A) when Nazi Germany attacked the city of Vienna in Austria 52 times

 

Appendix A – Vienna after the bombings (4 September 1942 –
16 April 1945)

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