I have been doing an in-depth study of the Cold War for a while now, and I really want to understand the main reasons why it began. There are a few questions I have regarding a few specifics that I hope somebody can shed some light on.

Firstly, I think one of the main driving forces to the beginning of the Cold War was Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech (or the Fulton speech). It is really what brought the threat of the Soviet Union to the attention of the Western Powers. However, one of the things I am having trouble grasping is the immediate impact of the speech. How was it received and what happened because of its ideas?

Secondly, what was Stalin thinking? I don't mean that to be judgemental of his actions, more as a questioning of his motives. Why was Stalin so motivated by security and economics? Why did he desire to export revolution?

Also, something important that someone might be able to answer is - did Truman, Churchill, and Stalin correctly diagnose the intentions of each other? Or were they "running the race blindfolded" at this point?

Finally, I want to consider the ending of World War II and how that played effect on the motives of the world leaders. How did they disagree and what caused these tensions? (One example of this might be regarding the Soviets, how they defeated the majority of the German military but were asked to not interfere with the nations they liberated.)

closed as off-topic by Kentaro, Denis de Bernardy, o.m., Mark Olson, SJuan76 Oct 19 at 17:19

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  • Voted to close after reading 2 passages. Thank you for your try. – Kentaro Oct 19 at 16:24
  • 2
    Your questions (of which there are a few -- perhaps break them into separate questions?) don't seem to reflect "an in-depth study of the Cold War for a while now." – Mark Olson Oct 19 at 17:01
  • @MarkOlson I beg to differ. I am quite new to history, my brain is built for math and physics. This makes it hard for me to grasp political and ideological concepts that are presented in, for example the Cold War, because I am unfamiliar with how to navigate them. I am merely asking for some guidance on how to approach these ideas, not an essay describing the face-value of the Cold War (I have many of those at my disposal). – ThatOneNerdyBoy Oct 19 at 17:09
  • @ThatOneNerdyBoy, where are you from? There is a proverb that to an European, 100 miles is a long distance, while to an American, 100 years is a long time. You really have to start with the beginning of WWI, Brest-Litovsk and the rollback in Versailles, Soviets fighting Poles, ... – o.m. Oct 19 at 17:31

I think you are misreading the situation from 1945 onward, and even earlier. There was a clear rivalry between the western Allies and the Soviet Union to control the post-war situation in Europe.

The US and UK were aware that Communism ultimately wanted a world revolution under Soviet leadership, for the benefit of the "oppressed" workers worldwide. According to Communist doctrine, the capitalist "oppressors" had managed to keep the workers ignorant of their true interest.

Without going into detail about the various brands of Communism, one assumption was that workers on their own could only develop a trade unionist mindset, not a truly revolutionary one, and that it would take a vanguard party to lead them to freedom. Guess who defined themselves as the vanguard of the proletariat?

The Soviets were aware that the West wanted to defeat Communism. Do you know about the Western interventions in the Russian civil war?

  • I have not done any study into the Russian civil war, no... – ThatOneNerdyBoy Oct 19 at 17:05
  • @ThatOneNerdyBoy, you will find fascinating reading. Expeditionary armies in the Arctic and the Crimea, Czechs fighting their way eastward to Vladivostok, Chinese and Japanese meddling ... – o.m. Oct 19 at 17:27
  • Czechs fighting eastwards was not caused by the West, but by the communists' decision to sell Czech legion off to Germany and AH empire and Czech legion was having none of it. They couldn't walk West towards the AH, and so they were forced to retreat east. – Failus Maximus Oct 19 at 21:49
  • @FailusMaximus, my point is that the Soviet Union had ample experience with invaders on their soil, all within living memory of the start of the Cold War. For that matter, they remembered how the Baltics, parts of Poland, etc.had been part of the Czarist empire. While that does not justify the post-WWII control of Eastern Europe, it explains some of it. – o.m. Oct 20 at 4:41

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