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Indeed, ideology contributed to the outbreak of Cold War, by heightening tensions and

misperceptions between the two superpowers and subsequently intensifying their


action-reaction scenarios. However, rather than being the primary trigger for the Cold War,
ideology was mainly manipulated by the superpowers to attain their strategic and economic
concerns. Thus, compared to ideology, strategic and economic concerns had been more critical
in leading to the mutual hostility and tension between US and USSR, as well as the division of
Europe into two opposing blocs that defined the outbreak of Cold War.

Indeed, USSRs Sovietisation of Eastern Europe appeared to the US as communist


expansionist tendencies, increasing suspicions of USSR's intents and hence, raising
hostilities between the superpowers.
Sovietisation of Eastern Europe, which began from 1945, using Salami tactics such as
underhand means of rigging elections and expelling non-communist members from the
government, appeared as a communist goal of eliminating western ideology in Europe. This can
be seen when in 1947, communists took over the Polish government by rigging elections and
forcing the London Poles, recognised by the West, to step down and went into exile. Likewise,
the 1947 brutal communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, a country democratic but well-disposed
to USSR, with 40% of its coalition govt being communists, further pointed to Soviet imperialism
and aggression.
Hence, the brutal communist takeovers in Eastern Europe, which violated the agreements made
at Yalta and Potsdam, appeared as USSR spreading communism while suppressing Western
ideology in Eastern Europe. This heightened US's distrust towards USSR, creating hostility
between the two superpowers.

On the other hand, US containment policy, which inadvertently marked the start of a
chain of action-reaction that eventually divided Europe into two political and economic
blocs, seemed to be driven by the threat posed by the clash in ideologies.
USSR's actions in Eastern Europe, as well as her perceived role in aiding the rise of
communism in Greece and Turkey, seemed to pose an ideological threat to US.
This formed the basis of Containment policy enunciated in 1947. Truman Doctrine pledged to
support 'free people' facing aggression from 'totalitarian regimes' by providing financial aid to
European countries allegedly threatened by communism. Marshall Plan then expanded from
this doctrine to channel more resources to aid recovery of European economies. This would
decrease the viability of communism and hence, contain the spread of communism.
Thus, US containment policy, which appeared as means to curb the spread of communism,
consequently added tensions and hostility from USSR and deteriorated superpowers' relations.

Still, ideological differences had clearly existed since 1917 but superpower relations between
1917 and 1940 remained amiable and accommodating. Despite the superpowers perennial
mutual mistrust and suspicion, during World War II, both US and USSR were able to put aside
their conflicting ideologies to work towards the common goal of eradicating Hitler and Fascism.
Hence, ideology alone cannot justify the outbreak of Cold War. Rather, ideology served mainly
as a tool which both US and USSR manipulated to secure their conflicting post-war national
interests. The vying for national interests escalated tensions between them and was ultimately,
the more crucial cause of the outbreak of Cold War.

The US played up the threat of ideological difference between the US and USSR to secure
its economic and political dominance in post-WWII Europe. This then threatened Soviet
security interests, thereby fueling hostility and a string of Soviets' counter-responses,
accelerating the outbreak of Cold war.
Europe had been the main market for US goods during the war. To prevent post-War economic
slump, Europe must be economically strong to be a viable market for US goods.
Truman, to ensure US's economic hegemony in Europe, thus exaggerated the ideological threat
posed by communism to convince the reluctant Congress to put $400 million in Truman
Doctrine to support European economies.
Ideological differences was further manipulated in the Marshall Plan to justify economic aid to
Western Europe as containing communism. This evidently showed with bulk of the $13 million
of Marshall aid going to France and Britain, whose economies were already capitalist, instead of
Turkey and Greece that faced more immediate threats of communism.
Clearly, clash of ideologies was merely a tool to mask and facilitate the economic needs of the
US government. It was US's economic interests that clashed with USSR's security concerns that
provoked a cascade of action-reaction scenarios between them.

USSR's response to US actions was to more significantly to defend its security interests
rather than mere ideological beliefs.
USSR sought to secure its borders from future invasions after the loss of 27 million lives and
devastated economy from WWII.
Initial Sovietisation only occurred in countries of critical strategic importance to USSR such as
Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary, with other zones of occupation in Eastern Europe only requiring
a government friendly to USSR.
In 1947, US implemented Marshall Plan, opening it to all economically torn countries including
Eastern Europe, if they open their markets to US-made goods. Rather than merely opening
Eastern Europe to Western ideology, acceptance of Marshall aid would more importantly result
in an economically strong Eastern Europe while deteriorating Soviet's control of its bloc, hence
raising possibilities of invasions of USSR. Hence, Marshall Plan provoked USSR to further
strengthen its sphere of influence by forcefully sovietising all the other Eastern European
countries from 1947 onwards, such as Czechoslovakia. It was the desire from some members of
Czech government to take up Marshall aid that drove the 1948 communist takeover of
Czechoslovakia.
Thus, the threats posed by US containment policies to USSR's strategic interests sparked its
intensification of Sovietisation, contributing to the crystallization of ideological and economic
chasm of post-war Europe.

Although it could be perceived that US and USSR actions in the events of Germany were
ideologically motivated, with each trying to consolidate their respective spheres of
influences, it was actually driven more by national interests, and the action-reaction
scenarios that followed would ultimately divide Europe physically and militarily.
The clash of national interests was most closely depicted in Germany. US wanted to restore the
economy of Germany, the heart of European economy, to facilitate US's economic hegemony in
Europe. In contrast, having been invaded twice in the past 50 years by Germany, USSR wanted
to keep Germany weak economically and militarily to secure its borders.
In 1948, to promote economic recovery, US led the Western attempt to a West German state
and introduced a new currency in their zones. This triggered fears of a revived Germany from
USSR that would threaten Soviet security.
Hence, to force the Western allies to abandon their plans of reunifying Germany, USSR
implemented the 1948 Berlin Blockade, blocking all water and land pathways to West Berlin, to
which US successfully responded with the Berlin Airlift.
Berlin Blockade subsequently led to the division of Germany into West Germany and East
Germany in 1949, dividing Europe physically into two blocs.
To safeguard Europe's security after the perceived display of Soviet's aggressive ambitions in
Berlin Blockade, the military alliance, NATO, was signed among Western Europe and US in
1949. NATO was however read by the USSR as being aggressively anti-Soviet. Thus, the
addition of Germany into NATO in 1955 directly led to USSR's implementation of its own military
alliance, Warsaw Pact. This added a military dimension to the division of Europe.
Hence, the conflicting national interests between US and USSR escalated mutual tensions and
a series of action-reaction that further concreted the physical and military division of Europe.

Therefore, it is clear that both superpowers persistent pursuit of their strategic and economic
interests led to the division of Europe into opposing blocs. While ideologies did clash as
Communism and capitalism could not co-exist, they only conflicted as superpowers were
pursuing their national interests in the same arena, Europe.