Grand Alliance 1945
?Why did the foundations for mistrust and suspicion between the members of the Grand Alliance already exist by 1945? In 1945 the war had been fought on one side by the nations of Great Britain, USA and USSR, the members of the Grand Alliance achieved victory in WW2. It was more important than ever the victorious powers remained united as they faced the enormous task of reconstructing war torn Europe. However, as they sought to do this, their unity was already weakened by the existence of mistrust and suspicions between them.
Despite the outward appearance of unity, these nations were fundamentally divided by their ideological rivalry which had already existed between them since 1917: the disagreements and strains they experienced; and their competing aims and ambitions for the future of post-war Europe on which their societies were based. The fundamental struggle between the communist system of USSR and capitalist ideas of USA and Great Britain ideological rivalry is evident to be the most significant explanation for the existence of mistrust and suspicion between them.
Due to the fact, it lies at the basis of the other casual factors. The long term issues of their ideological rivalry which was present between the USSR and the West since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was a significant contributory factor in the development of a hostile relationship between them. The great power rivalry was evident during the years of 1917 to 1941; the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 saw the rise of Lenin which meant a rise in Communism. It can be said the Soviet foreign policy was driven by communist ideology rather than national security.
This was a threat of a totalitarian state. Ideology of Marxism was alien to the USA as left wing politics were unheard of; this was especially threatening as Marxist ideology saw the destruction of capitalist societies such as the USA. Its egalitarian values and its attacks on the freedoms held to be so important in a Liberal Democracy. Truman adopted a strident policy to combat spread of communism towards the Soviet Union; in 1945 he upbraided USSR’s foreign minister Molotov, over Soviet occupation of Poland.
A greater source of fear in the West was the communist belief in the inevitable conflict between capitalism and communism views. The idea of communism succeeding to worldwide revolution and this meant the downfall of capitalism. In addition, Europe faced the growing threat from Nazi Germany. In the years of 1939 saw the introduction of a non-aggression pact between Russia and Germany. Seen by many as what gave Hitler the confidence to invade Poland which sparked WW2.
Stalin feared Germany would go against them in war and were not ready arms wise in the battle to fight against them. It can be said Hitler didn’t want to fight war on both East and West fronts, that’s why he wanted to attack Poland, already achieving taking over Czechoslovakia. These approaches were rejected by the British government whose ideological opposition to Fascist Germany. Their differences in ideology created British suspicions to rise, as Stalin appeared to be confirmed in August, in the view of the British making the outbreak of war in Europe inevitable.
1941, when the Grand Alliance was formed, it was out of a mutual need to defeat a common enemy (Hitler. ) Not a natural alliance of allies but an alliance of ideological enemies. The suspicion and mistrust relationship between them continued to exist below the surface. This helps to explain why despite the superficial show of unity, there were extensive dissimilarities and strains in their wartime relationship which further served to fuel the latent hostility between them. The strands in the Grand Alliance were due to the ideological suspicions that arose between them.
The disagreements that they experienced in the years building up to 1945, was due to the fact their key personalities and how they dealt with situations. The constraints and pressure they were put in as national leaders, added to their layer of mistrust and suspicion between them. Despite improved relations there were also cracks in the Soviet-American Alliance during the years of 1942 to 1944. Two sides argued about the opening of a second war front against Germany; as Stalin wanted the USA and Great Britain to invade Western Europe in order to relieve pressure on the Red Army in the east.
Knowing that Stalin approached a different aspect of leadership, with his dysfunctional personality and suspicious nature, he remained wary of capitalist West authority, actions that the USA choose to take only proved his xenophic style of leadership to be expressed in his government. As early as 1942, Roosevelt promised to this however his following actions contributed to the suspicions. In the end the D Day landings didn’t occur until June 1944; in the meantime millions of Russians had died. The preoccupation with Stains obsession with Soviet security, USA wasn’t in a position to appreciate USSR deep sense of insecurity in 1945.
This delay drove Stalin’s suspicions that USA and Britain were hoping that Germany and the USSR would ‘kill each other off. ’ This theory was viewed by many people; the revisionist. They asserted the USA’s policies of capitalist expansionist such as not helping USSR, was primarily responsible for the onset of the Cold War. The war never saw Russia and the USA fight alongside each other. Also, Soviet spies infiltrated the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico where US scientists were attempting to build the first atomic bomb; this soviet operation was on a massive scale.
The residual mutual suspicion and disagreement on specific issues, (the second front) suggests the two sides had already mistrusted each other by 1945; due to their unprecedented cooperation. Considering all the factors, only when you get the opportunity to get them into a close contact that’s when ideology rivalry becomes the most significant factor in the foundations for mistrust and suspicion between the members of the Grand Alliance. The strains caused between them in the build up by 1945, may have been an ultimate trigger to anguish the mistrust and suspicion.
Never the less, ideological rivalry is a catalyst in terms of in accelerating a difference between them. Therefore, leading the members to have completely different competing aims and ambitions in post-war Europe. Growing tensions and suspicions between the members of Grand Alliance which already existed through their ideological rivalry and strains steered them to having opposite aims and ambitions in post-war Europe. The reality of Soviet Union and the West having different competing aims and ambitions only put the final layer of the mistrust and suspicion to become an alarming problem.
Despite having won the war together, the USA and USSR faced the post-war world with more differences than similarities. Stalin demands regarding Germany where that the future of the Soviet Union was to be secured, to prevent repercussions of the effects of WW2 happen again; such as 2,700,000 of its citizens being killed. Also, the opportunity of friendly governments and he wanted to seek revenge as the whole of Russia was destroyed; 70,000 villages were destroyed. The chances of USSR achieving these aims regarding Germany were unlikely as the West would be against them.
The mistrust and suspicions which had already been implanted in the leaders’ minds caused the USA not to contribute, because of the threat of impact in ideological differences. However, they did agree in the principle of dividing and occupying Germany among the victory and have a shared goal of continued cooperation after war; this could re-kindle the trust between them. In 1944, they had different ideology which was based on their different economic and political ideas within their government. This was evident in their communist and capitalist ideas.
USA had a very fixed idea about the shape of the world economy after the war. USA had become strong advocates of free trade, the unrestricted exchange of goods between nations based on their capitalist ideas. Individual countries should operate in Open Door policies, having production and distribution of goods should be on responsibility of a private sector and not the state. However, USA aims and ambitions for a free market were completely different to those of USSR government, they saw the preference of the command economy and state control necessary.
The economy of the government was organised along the communist financial principles, a command economy. In addition, their aims and ambitions also differed in political ideology. Where the USA was in favour of (liberal democracy) democracy and right, a system where by freedom of speech was apparent which formed the basis of the post-war Europe. These rights were unheard of in the USSR and were not seen as fundamental or important; as they were in contrast to the ideas of USA.
The fear of capitalist ideas spreading towards the East added to the mistrust and suspicion of Stalin; as his role was an expansionist communist. They believed in (one-party state) freedom of speech and dissents were not tolerated in any basis, within a party or society at large. Along with that, the recent devastating effects of WW2 for Russia, Stalin pursued in creating a belt of friendly states on Russia’s western border. USSR had experience mistrust and twice in Stalin’s lifetime Russia had been invaded by Germany through these eastern neighbours, he longed for a sense of security.
But, Roosevelt wanted no empires or sphere of influence in the world. He believed that all states had no right to self-determination. Their differences in post-war agreements added tension in their fragile relationship. These events would sow the seeds for the eventual collapse of the Grand Alliance; these can be detected in the agreements made at Yalta even though ironically these marked the highpoint of allied unity. Ideological rivalry and a history of mistrust and suspicions made the potential for the continuation of Grand Alliance to deteriorate.
Contrasting post-war visions held by the USA and USSR reflected their different value systems, different historical experience and different security needs. The chances of them working together in a complacent way were stacked against them as they were expected to cooperate in the reconstruction of post-war Europe. Ideological rivalry was extremely important in whether the members of Grand Alliance trusted or grew intense suspicions on each other by 1945, as it was an inner-deep layer of foundation which hidden their capitalism and communism ideology differences.
The long term effect of mistrust and suspicion had only been waiting underneath the layer of the foundations to be exposed, through their close proximity of being allies with one another. That’s when their differences and strains come to light. Dissimilarities in the Grand Alliance were fundamentally being reflected on their ideological differences in their economic and political state. Therefore, creating a complete contrast in competing aims and ambitions in post-war Europe; between capitalist West and communist Soviet Union.