MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

443 views

What motivations informed US foreign policy during the Cold War?

The question can be answered from three different historical perspectives: the orthodox, the revisionist, and the post-revisionist. The orthodox account blames the expansionary tendencies of the Soviet Union, well exemplified by the consolidation of Soviet-friendly regimes in Eastern Europe and the promotion of Communist ideology in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The US containment policy was a reaction to the Soviet aggression, warranting of the development of tight relations with Western Europe as well as intervening in the Third World to prevent Communist regime changes. Thus, it was primarily the ideological and political commitment to liberalism and democracy which informed US foreign policy. The revisionist accounts question the benign nature of the US by reinterpreting the historical trajectory of the Cold War confrontation. Given the post-war devastation in the USSR, it did not have the material base to launch a worldwide Communist expansion. Rather, the US is conceived as an expansionary state driven primarily by economic interests. The ‘open door’ policy among its allies was not an act of goodwill, but a means to open markets to US business. Further, the lack of ideological commitment to democracy was manifested in its subversion of democratic processes (e.g. Nicaragua, Guatemala) and its support for authoritarian leaders (e.g. Japan, South East Asia). Hence, US policies were rather shaped by economic and strategic interests. Finally, the post-revisionist accounts integrate the insights of the two accounts to offer a more balanced analysis. 

 

What should be deemed more critical perhaps than weighing the evidence for one or another account is why these questions still get discussed and remain highly contentious? Beyond the ‘correctness’ of these accounts, the debate over US motivations is political (Orwell’s famous quote is pertinent here: Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past). By contextualising these accounts (when, where, by whom) the political nature of historical narratives can be revealed. Further, these interpretations with their specific conceptualisation of US motivations shape the way we interpret US geopolitical activities in the contemporary era.

Kaia K. A Level History tutor, GCSE History tutor, A Level Politics t...

2 years ago

Answered by Kaia, who tutored A Level History with MyTutor

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

59 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£22 /hr

Felix O.

Degree: BA Modern Languages (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: History, Russian+ 2 more

History
Russian
Religious Studies
Latin

“So much is dependent on success in your CEs, GCSEs and A levels- so don't leave it to chance!- leave it to someone who has considerable recent success to show you how it can be done. In our 1:1 sessions, YOU are the priority; no big c...”

£22 /hr

Emily H.

Degree: Modern Foreign Languages (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: History, German+ 2 more

History
German
Art
-Oxbridge Preparation-

“This year I have began reading German adn Italian at Durham University and will be graduating in 2020. German, Art and History were all the full A-Levels I completed at a school in Surrey. Priding myself in being an optimistic, consid...”

£26 /hr

Octavia C.

Degree: History (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: History, Politics+ 2 more

History
Politics
Maths
English Literature

“About Me:  My name is Octavia Cogher and I am in my second year studying history at Durham University. I am interested in a broad range of topics and periods, but particularly in twentieth-century political history. Last year, I tuto...”

About the author

Kaia K.

Currently unavailable: for new students

Degree: MA International Political Economy (Masters) - Warwick University

Subjects offered: History, Politics

History
Politics

“A Master's student at the University of Warwick hoping to share my knowledge and experience in History and Politics”

You may also like...

Other A Level History questions

How to use primary sources.

How can I quickly get to grips with a historical source in an exam?

How do I structure an A-Level history essay?

What is historiography?

View A Level History tutors

Cookies:

We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok