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Walter LaFeber's Analysis of the Cold War

In other words, Truman was saying that the personal freedoms of Americans could be put into serious jeopardy if the totalitarian policies of the Soviets were allowed to run rampant in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. What Truman was saying, then, was that democracy depended on capitalism. Economics became the stated purpose behind the Cold war. The logic behind the argument might have been flawed, but LaFeber makes clear that the United States, just as much as the Soviet Union, was capable of using any propaganda ploy to frighten its citizens into supporting further steps into the darkness of the Cold War.

LaFeber seems to blame the leaders on both sides for creating a situation in which the Cold War could begin and flourish, and for keeping it going through misleading rhetoric aimed at their own people and at the world. For example, he exposes Truman's deception in scaring the American people after World War II at a time when the Soviets were too wounded to pose a threat.

However, on the other hand, he seems to paint an historical picture in which the Cold War appears to have been inevitable. Perhaps that is LaFeber's point---that there is a certain amount of "inevitability" in such a huge phenomenon as the Cold War, but at the same time leaders do have a certain amount of freedom in the way they respond to that "inevitability." In any case, both sides' leaders seem to have taken almost every opportunity to escalate the tension. Neither side trusted the other, and they had had different conflicts between them for over half a century, even before the United States took action to prevent the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution.

One conclusion of Lafeber's book is that the economic, political, strategic, ideological and military aspects of each side's involvement were so intertwined that once the Cold War was under way in earnest, stopping it was impossible. Each side by that time simply had too much invested in too many ways t...

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Walter LaFeber's Analysis of the Cold War. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:34, September 20, 2017, from
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