This collection focuses on the ideals that formed the basis of American policy toward the Soviet Union during the early years of the Cold War. The collection includes 57 documents totaling 681 pages covering the years 1945 through 1952. Supporting materials include photographs, oral history transcripts, biographies and a chronology of events. Related collections available from the Truman Library include subject guides on the Berlin Airlift, Korean War, Marshall Plan, Truman Doctrine and United Nations.
Ideological Foundations of the Cold War
After meeting Josef Stalin at the Potsdam conference in July 1945, President Harry S. Truman wrote in his diary: "I can deal with Stalin. He is honest-but smart as hell." Not a year later tempers flared on all sides as Stalin spoke about the ultimate collapse of capitalism and President Truman instructed his Secretary of State James Byrnes to stop "babying the Soviets." Diplomacy between the two countries quickly degenerated into mutual distrust, military and nuclear buildup, and cold war. This state of cold war would span nine presidencies and nearly fifty years.
While ideology cannot entirely explain the origins of the cold war, it may help explain why the cold war became so enduring and contentious. Both nations held dramatically different worldviews, nurtured by their domestic values. The Soviet Union envisioned a world-wide global revolution leading to a Communist utopia. The United States believed in democracy and private enterprise. As their World War II coalition melted away in the face of growing political disagreements, the rhetoric of both nations turned shriller and argumentative, making faith in negotiations and treaties virtually non-existent.
In February of 1946, George Kennan, the chargé d'affaires in the American Embassy in Moscow and an expert on R