Less than a year after the end of World War II, the great wartime leader of Britain, Winston Churchill gave a speech at Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri. After receiving an honorary degree and being introduced by President Harry Truman, he delivered a historic speech. Churchill said, It is my duty to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an Iron Curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe.
Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.. It was in this 1946 speech that the term Iron Curtain was first used to describe the growing East-West divide in postwar Europe between communist and democratic nations.
The Iron Curtain was a result of the policy of isolation set up by the Union of Soviet Republics (USSR) after World War II that nvolved rigid censorship and travel restrictions. It acted as a barrier to communication and the free exchange of ideas between the USSR (and its satellite states) and the rest of the world. In June of 1948, Josef Stalin ordered the blockade of West Berlins roads and railways. There was no way of traveling by land into the city. The only access to West Berlin was through a twenty-mile air corridor. Nikita Krushchev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1955. His policy was liberalization, or deStalinization.
The concept was a shake-up of the Communist Party. He even preached that a peaceful co-existence with apitalist nations was possible. The cold war relaxed for a few years and Austria was even given true independence in 1955. Hungary successfully revolted against Russian occupation in 1956 and held a free election for a new government. Unfortunately, Khrushchev was not about to give up on Berlin. The Iron Curtain became even more real on August 14, 1961. This was the morning that the world woke up to learn that a barbed wire fence dividing the Eastern sector of Berlin from the three Western sectors had been erected overnight.
The purpose was to stop East Germans from fleeing to the West. More han three million had fled since the war. The news caught Western leaders by surprise. There had been a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the three Western powers in Paris in July 1961, but no one mentioned the possibility of a Berlin wall. After hasty consultations, the three Western allies decided that there was nothing that could be done. Military action would have been unthinkable, because it would have led to a confrontation in which the West would have had to back down. The wall of barbed wire was soon replaced with brick.
Mines peppered the ground. Automatic machine gun turrets were installed that shot anything that oved near the wall. East Berlin was effectively a prison. President Kennedy issued a statement condemning the erection of the wall as a violation of written and unwritten agreements. The wall remained as a symbol of the Iron Curtain.. The wall came down and the curtain lifted during 1989 through 1991, when Communist governments fell in Eastern Europe and the USSR. In April 1951 a paper known as NSC-68 was published which detailed the United States objectives and programs for national security.
The paper was written primarily by the U. S. State Departments, Paul Nitze. It was written in the ftermath of the Soviet explosion of their first atomic weapon. The report predicted the Soviets could launch a nuclear attack on the United States by 1954. There was worry about he Soviet Unions recommended an increase in U. S. spending for nuclear and conventional arms. Paul Nitze worked in investment banking before entering government service. He served as vice chairman of the U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey (1944-46).
He was the head of policy planning for the State Department (1959-53). He also served as Secretary of the Navy (1963-67) and Deputy Secretary of Defense (1967-69), as a member of the U. S. elegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) (1969-73), and Assistant Secretary of Defense for international affairs (1973-76). For over forty years, Nitze was one of the chief architects of U. S. policy toward the Soviet Union.
At a National Security Council meeting on January 31, 1950, President Truman met with Defense Secretary Louis A. Johnson, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) David Lilienthal to discuss continuing the thermonuclear project. The surprise of the Soviet atomic bomb tests three months earlier greatly concerned Truman. The President was disturbed oo, about the deteriorating relationship between America and Russia. The Communist success in China the year before seemed to Truman a deepening of the rift. He was now determined to make a thorough review not only of Americas loss of atomic monopoly, but also of its existing political military strategy.
The result of that effort was National Security Council paper 68, or NSC 68. 1. NSC 68 was completed in April of 1950 and approved as a national security policy in September. For two months after the paper was completed, many top Washington officials debated NSC 68s call for an enormous military build-up, stimated at a $40,000,000,000, more than three times the $13,000,000,000 appropriation for 1950. The main aim of those funds was to build the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military structure in Europe. NSC-68 was intended to elaborate the overriding objectives of the US national security policy.
It began with an assessment of the physiology of the world crisis, adopting two basic assumptions in respect to the global distribution of power: first, following the defeat of Germany and Japan and the collapse of British and French Empires, the international system was bipolar with the US and he Soviet Union representing the two centers of power. Secondly, the Soviet Union had fundamentally antithetical objectives compared to those of US and, driven by a fanatic faith, sought to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world.
Behind this bipolarized reality stood the inherently irreconcilable struggle between the free and the slave society or, in other words, between the idea of freedom under a government of laws, and the idea of slavery under the grim oligarchy of the Kremlin. The Cold War was substantially a real war in which the survival of the free world was in serious danger. NSC-68 asserted that Soviet leadership regarded the US as the only major threat and as the principal enemy whose integrity and vitality mush be subverted or destroyed by one means or another in order its fundamental design to be accomplished.
To this end, Soviet economy, though far behind, as a percentage and value of Gross National Product, from that of US, was operating on a near maximum production basis so as no just to contribute generally to the strengthening of Soviet power, but largely to increase the war-capacity of the Soviet Union. Military capabilities were being exclusively developed to upport the design of Soviet leadership for world domination. It was estimated that by 1954 the Soviets would have had a stockpile of approximately 200 atomic bombs and a sufficient number of aircraft to deliver them.
In this case they could probably inflict serious damage to the US by a surprise attack. This atomic capability, coupled with the possession of the thermonuclear bomb, and in conjunction with the already excessive conventional forces stationed in the Eastern Europe, would rank the Soviet Union in a extremely favorable position to carry out simultaneously the following courses of military actions: to verrun Western Europe, to launch air attacks against the British Isles and to attack selected targets with atomic weapons.
In moving to a final assessment of Soviet intentions, the document argued that Moscow sought to employ the methods of the Cold War and the techniques of infiltration and intimidation in order both to overthrow Western institutions, and to establish its world domination. NSC-68 regarded that the principle task of the US national security should be the assurance of the integrity and vitality of its society. Given that American integrity was in greater jeopardy than ever before, the document ejected explicitly the preceding policy of isolation and called for a positive participation in the world community.
The US, as the center of power in the free world, should undertake the responsibility of world leadership in order to organize and consolidate a global environment in which the American Society would be able to survive and flourish. To this end, US foreign policy should include two closely interlinked strategies: the first was the development of a healthy international community, which had already been actually in force through the economic activities of the US throughout the world. The other was the containment of the Soviet System.
As the document finally took shape, NSC-68 was relatively brief. Reportedly, it began with a statement of the nature of the world crisis and ended with a call to action by the United States. The world crisis it defined primarily in terms of long-range historical processes affected specifically by the Russian revolution and the Communist movement since then and, second, the development of nuclear weapons, the significance of which it explored. It provided a general theory about what Russia was trying to do, which concluded that the Kremlin had o master plan and that it had three major objectives.
In order of priority, these were: to preserve the internal power position of the regime and develop the U. S. S. R. as the base for that power, to consolidate control over the Soviet satellites and add them as support for that base, and to weaken any opposing centers of power and aspire to world hegemony. The document examined and compared Soviet capabilities with Western capabilities, including conventional military forces and nuclear weapons and a projection of future nuclear capabilities and economic strength.
It asserted hat the Soviet system had vulnerabilities, three of which were identified: agriculture as an economic problem, the brittleness of the relationship of the Soviet masses to the top Soviet leadership, and relations with the satellites. But on the whole, the result was disquieting. The Soviet Union was pictured as capable of rapid economic growth at the same time that it maintained a large military establishment. The document estimated that within four years the Soviet Union would have enough atomic bombs and a sufficient capability of delivering them to offset substantially the deterrent capability of American nuclear weapons.
In comparison, it emphasized the inadequacy of the Western capability to meet limited military challenges due to a lack of conventional forces, shortcomings in the Western alliance system, and the military and economic weakness of Western Europe. The paper rejected the possibility of negotiation with the Soviet Union except on the basis of power political considerations. Similarly, in concluded that the prospects of achieving effective regulation of armaments were remote because the necessary methods were incompatible with the Stalinist regime.
Persistent efforts to achieve an effective agreement on arms regulation were onsidered necessary, particularly for nuclear weapons, although it was held that the success of these efforts depended upon the growth of free-world strength and cohesion. In conclusion, NSC-68 pictured four alternatives facing the United States: continuing on the present course of limited budgets with no increase in capabilities and no decrease in commitments, preventive war, withdrawal to the Western Hemispherethe Fortress America concept; the development, and the development of free-world cohesion through a program to increase free-world capabilities.
The fourth alternative it examined in greater detail, analyzing he relationship between the strength of the United States, as the center of the free world, with the strength of the countries on its periphery, the relationship of economic and military programs to each other, and both to psychological factors of strategy. It stressed the importance of allies to American security, the inadequate military preparedness of the free world, hence the need for improving it. NSC-68s importance was particularly significant because NSC 68 argued for an extensive rearmament at a time when America was at peace.
NSC 68s rationale had to do more than just change national military strategy. The papers logic somehow had to remove deep American psychological and historical prejudices against maintaining-and-funding-a large ground during peacetime. This is exactly what NSC 68 did. And it did so, in part, for three reasons. First, because America was not operating in a period of total peace, but rather in a tense cold war with the Soviet Union, the paper was able to define the nature of the Soviet threat in ideological terms, not just military. The risk we face, warned the authors of NSC 68, is of a new order and magnitude.
The paper declared It is quite clear from Soviet theory and practice that the Kremlin seeks to bring the free world under its domination by the methods of the cold war. Ambassador George F. Kennan was a great American statesman. A Milwaukee native, Ambassador Kennan served the United States in important diplomatic posts throughout Europe and in Washington between 1927 and 1953. Although Kennan is most well known for his theories involving the former Soviet Union, his interests extended far beyond that. Controversial at times, his arguments challenged Americans to think about the world in new ways.
In 1952, while serving as Ambassador to the Soviet Union, he was declared persona non grata.. This was a result of making unflattering comments about Stalin and comparing the USSR to Nazi Germany during a stopover in Berlin. His next Ambassadorship was in Yugoslavia. He joined the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, his Alma Mata, where he established himself as a diplomatic scholar. He wrote several nationally acclaimed books and won the Pulitzer Prize and eight other prestigious awards for his writing, his lecturing, and his commentary on important global issues.
Ambassador Kennan played a significant role in the formation of foreign policy in general and U. S. -Soviet relations in particular. He received the Medal of Freedom, one of the nations highest awards, from President Bush. On February 22, 1946, George Kennan sent the historic Long Telegram from Moscow. This official document had great influence on both the onset of the Cold war, and on the shaping of the United States. The Long Telegram was sent to Washington shortly after Stalins speech about the inevitability of conflict with the capitalist powers.
George Kennan discussed in his telegram three issues: the principal motivating factors behind Soviet foreign policy, and the historical and ideological background of the post-war Soviet perception of international elations; its attainment on both the official and the unofficial level; and finally, the far-reaching repercussions for the for the U. S. foreign policy. The analysis began with the thesis that the Soviet leadership saw world politics as a split into capitalist and socialist societies. The USSR still lives in a antagonistic capitalist encirclement with which there can be no permanent peaceful coexistence.
Kennan said that the Soviet leaders had a great suspiciousness of the outside world and a neurotic view is world affairs. He determined that this was a result of two prime determinants: first, from Russias long and deeply rooted gricultural past, and second, from the fear of contact with the economically developed and socially advanced West. The second sort of determinant of insecurity especially reinforced the Kremlins antipathy for the West, because its rule was relatively archaic in form, fragile and artificial in its psychological foundation, unable to stand comparison or contact with the political systems of western countries.
Kennan came to the conclusion that Soviet policy aimed primarily at strengthening the relative power of the USSR in the international environment. Of far greater importance, the Soviet rulers would attempt to accomplish their oals through the total destruction of rival power. To this end they would use every direct or indirect means, and they would do everything in their power, so as to undermine and infiltrate the political, social and moral edifice of western states, by exploiting the contradictions inherent in the capitalist system Kennan painted a very bleak picture of the Soviet Union.
In summing up his view, at the beginning of the fifth and last section of the Telegram, he underlined emphatically that the U. S. had to confront a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with the U. S. there can be no permanent odus vivendi, that it is desirable and necessary that the internal harmony of our society be disrupted, our traditional way of life be destroyed, the international authority of our state be broken, if Soviet power is to be secure.
Under these urgent circumstances, the overriding task of the U. S. grand strategy, Kennan argued, should be the stopping of Soviet expansion. In closing his telegram and recommending a general outline of instructions rather than some straightforwardly applicable steps for action. Kennan cautioned the U. S. in their dealing with the Soviet Union. He asked American officials to pproach with objectivity, thoroughness and calmness.
He was convinced that it was within the capabilities of the U. S. o solve the problem without direct confrontation, or a general military conflict for two basic reasons: first, the soviet leaders, unlike Hitler, were neither schematic nor adventurist, in that sense they were extremely sensitive to the logic of force; second, the Soviet Union continued to lag economically far away behind the West. As a consequence, the interests of the U. S. , Kennan went on in his argument, could best be served by building a healthy and vigorous American ociety, on the one hand, and by conceiving and exporting to other free nations its positive and constructive image of the world, on the other.
Kennans Long Telegram presented a completely opposite view of U. S. - Soviet relations than did NSC-68. They reflected two diametrically opposed perceptions both of the nature of world politics and the U. S. -Soviet security dilemma. The Long Telegram was concerned more with the impact of the distribution of power on the U. S. -Soviet relations.
It regarded that there would be a possibility of mutual gain from cooperation with the Soviets. In this sense, the Long Telegram aintained that the most effective way of controlling the Soviet Union was by exercising indirect power upon the Soviet Union, in order to get them to do what the U. S. wanted. NCS-68 focused on the military dimension of power. It asserted that an enhancement of Soviet strength would inevitably decrease U. S. power and, hence, the U. S. -Soviet conflict was only a zero-sum political and military interaction. Against the Soviet Union it advocated the use of hard power, exclusively associated with the manipulation of tangible and material means, such as threats, so as to compel the Soviet Union to acquiesce to the will of the United States.