The Crucial Years

The evidence of the end of the Cold War around 1990 was clearer than evidence of its beginning had been around, say, 1947.  By “Cold War” we mean the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union—not that between the United States and China, which was the outcome of civil war in the latter country.  In or about 1949-50 China became communist, and so she still claims to be, while Russia is communist no longer.  During the Cold War the United States involved herself in many marginal conflicts—in Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, the Middle East—mostly because of communism.  Yet it was not international communism that led to the Russo-American Cold War; it was the division of Europe, the prime consequence of World War II.  In 1945, Germany and Central Europe were subdued and divided.  It took some time for the American government and for the American people to recognize what that division meant: that the Russian conquest and occupation of most of the eastern half of Europe would be absolute and unconditional, including the imposition of communist regimes on its states.  That had little or nothing to do with “International Communism,” and everything to do with what Stalin and successive Russian leaders considered to be the security of their Soviet Union.  Something like an “iron curtain” now separated most of Eastern Europe (and East Germany, and East Berlin)...

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