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 Stalin NOT Responsible for Cold War


The Cold War is a period of history that is widely known and studied due to its significant impact on the world. It had roots starting in the early 1940s to the early 1990s and left an indelible mark on international relations. The primary cause of the beginning of the Cold War has been debated over by many historians, some of whom argue that former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was to blame. This esay seeks to refute this argument by providing evidence that Stalin was not the primary cause of the Cold War.

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As argued by Sherwin in his excerpt, “The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War” from Melvyn Leffler and David Painter’s Origins of the Cold War, Joseph Stalin was not the catalyst for the Cold War. Rather, it was America’s decision to deploy atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the United States’ failure to notify the Soviet Union, its ally in the war against Nazi Germany, which then brought the three-year alliance between the two powers to an end. This dual deployment, more than any other event, began the Cold War in 1945. 

American policymakers’ decisions to drop the atomic bombs, which were far more powerful than any conventional bomb, showed their willingness to use military force to achieve their objectives and thus created an atmosphere of fear and mistrust between the United States and the Soviet Union that made a new Cold War inevitable. By dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States began to turn its focus from the war against Nazi Germany to the new conflict of the Cold War. 

The Soviets’ resentment of the United States’ refusal to share knowledge of the atomic weapons and the U.S.’s refusal to recognize the new communist led governments of Eastern Europe, which had been liberated from Nazi control, further lead to the rift between the two countries during the early 1947. The US government’s refusal to recognize the governments of eastern European states, caused so much acrimony between the two countries that the Cold War became inevitable.

The emergence of the Cold War after the end of the Second World War was largely due to the ideologies and power politics that developed between the United States and the Soviet Union. Despite Joseph Stalin’s uncompromising attitude, it was the atomic bombs, refusal to share knowledge of the atomic weapons, and the United States’ refusal to recognize newly formed communist states of Eastern Europe that acted as triggers of the Cold War. Thus, while Joseph Stalin’s attitude and actions certainly provoked the United States and was an essential factor in the tension between these two blocs, it was ultimately the nuclear weapons and the power politics of the two sides that were the primary drivers of the Cold War.


1. Leffler, M.P., & Painter, D.S. (1999). Origins of the Cold War. University of North Carolina Press.

2. Sherwin, M.J. (1999). The atomic bomb and the origins of the Cold War. In M.P. Leffler & D.S. Painter (Eds.), Origins of the Cold War (pp. 201-216). University of North Carolina Press.


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