Who was responsible for the outbreak of the Cold War?
Was America responsible?
· President Truman’s use of the atomic bomb in Japan could be seen as a threat, especially as he did not tell Stalin about it beforehand.
· America gave money and aid to war-torn European countries as part of the ‘Truman Doctrine’ and ‘Marshall Plan’. Was this simply a case of wanting to help poorer countries or an aggressive way to bribe people away from Communism?
Was Russia responsible?
· Stalin followed a policy of expansionist Communism. This started in Eastern Europe, where he created Communist governments, often with little regard for democracy.
· The actions carried out during the Berlin Blockade deteriorated relations between the two super powers
Were both equally responsible?
· Perhaps, dividing the question into ‘America’ vs ‘Russia’ is not very useful, as the causes are very muddled and cannot be easily separated in this way
· Maybe the Cold War arose from misunderstandings on both sides, and a failure to appreciate the other side’s position.
· Possible question to consider: Is it inevitable that Capitalism and Communism will always clash?
Remember: There is no right or wrong answer, which is why history is fun and interesting! This is an example of a question that has been puzzling historians for years and the examiners would like to know what your opinion on the question is. It matters less what you’re answer is, and more how well you can argue and reason.