LaFeber shows that the Cold War from the very beginning was the result of the conflict between the United States over how the world would be shaped after World War II. The Cold War had been in the making since the end of the 19th century, and the turbulence of the world after the war brought the conflict to a head: Which side would decide the nature of the world? Would the United States create a world of capitalism and democracy, or would the Soviet Union shape a world of totalitarianism and socialism?
Neither side is all-good or all-bad in LaFeber's view. Both were pursuing goals which they saw as expressions of their self-interest. Both were willing to do whatever they needed to do to bring about the desired results. Both hated and feared the other side, and both had to and did manipulate their own people with propaganda.
With respect to the latter factor. LaFeber writes that after World War II the Soviet Union was far from being a threat to the United States. The Soviets had suffered far more than the United States in the war. They were wounded in every sense, especially economically. The fact is that the American leaders, up to Truman, were guided by economic desires rather than fear of any military threat from the Soviet Union. The concern with the takeover of Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union, and the loss of Third World nations to the Soviets, was more a matter of economics than liberty or democracy, as Truman made clear in a spe