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Who was responsible for the Cold War?


old man emu
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Loosely speaking, the Cold War, as a clash of two political ideologies - Capitalism and Communism. But can we point the finger at any particular individual whose actions resulted in that clash? 

 

The two main protagonists of the Cold War were The United States and the USSR.  But what was it that turned these countries, which at the turn of the 20th Century were relative isolationists in world politics, into the military-industrial behemoths they became?

 

There is one man who in the years 1911 to 1917, acted as midwife to the USSR and the USA's adopted role as the World's peacekeeper. That man was Arthur Zimmerman, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the German Empire from 22 November 1916 until his resignation on 6 August 1917. It was Zimmerman who in 1917  with the imminent collapse of the Russian front, took steps to promote Peace in the East with the Russians, a proposal that was of immense importance to Germany at the time. He arranged for Lenin to go from Switzerland to Russia through Germany in order to provide leadership to the Bolshevik cause. Zimmermann thus contributed to the outcome of the October Revolution, and enabled the establishment of the USSR.

 

After failed attempts to support the Irish Rebellion, which was tying up British troops needed on the Western front, Zimmerman was involved in diverting the USA from entering the War.  For two and a half years, the United States had maintained a status of neutrality, however a German High Command decision to engage in an unrestricted U-boat campaign. If a ship was heading for Britain, Neutral or not, it was fair game. This resulted in the sinking of many US registered ships, and the raising of US ire. Clearly, it became just a matter of time before the USA was drawn into the conflict. 

 

At the time Germany could not hold the Western Front if troops from the USA came in on the side of the Allies. Something had to be done to divert the Yanks. Zimmerman came up with the idea to entice Mexico to invade the south-west USA with the aim of recapturing Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Zimmerman promised political support as well as arms and munitions. Zimmermann sent a telegram to the Venustiano Carranza government proposing an agreement for a German alliance with Mexico, while Germany would still try to maintain a state of neutrality with the United States. If this policy were to fail, the note suggested, the Mexican government should make common cause with Germany, try to persuade the Japanese government to join the new alliance, and attack the US. Germany for its part would promise financial assistance.

 

The telegram was intercepted by British Intelligence and forwarded to the US Government. When the content of the telegram was published in the USA, and later confirmed in person by Zimmerman, President Wilson asked Congress to agree to declare war on Germany, citing, among other grievances, that Germany "means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors". On 6 April, Congress approved the resolution for war by a wide margin, with the Senate voting 82 to 6 in favour. The United States had entered World War I on the side of the Allies.

 

So the USA became a victor over the Central Powers and was given a seat in the conferences that determined the distribution of Germany's assets. Thus the USA was thrust into playing a large role in International politics that it did not seek prior to 1914. It continued in and expanded that role through the first half of the 20th Century until by 1945, the defeat of Germany in Europe and Japan in Asia, greatly enabled by the USA's capitalist industrial base, put the USA at the top of the heap, which it shared with an also greatly industrially developed USSR.

 

By this time, the philosophies of the two countries were diametrically opposed, and that opposition fuelled the Cold War. But it was Zimmerman who lit the kindling, way bck in 1917.

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Interesting perspective, OME of how Zimmerman was responsible for the Cold War.

 

My pet theory is that Australia’s PM Billy Hughes was responsible for WWII.

He was one of the most vociferous proponents of Germany being punished by having to pay reparations to Allied nations.

Their economy already in tatters and war-weary veterans going hungry this contributed to the turmoil that was fertile ground in which Hitler’s Nazi party could grow.

 

At the League of Nations Hughes spoke forcefully against Japan being recognised as an equal of European nations- even though Japan had been on our side during The Great War and Japanese warships had protected our troop convoys.

Humiliated, the Japanese delegate walked out. At home in Japan, Japanese militants took this as their cue to violently take over the government, leading to war in Asia and the Pacific.

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2 hours ago, facthunter said:

The FRENCH insistence on crippling reparations on Germany was more significant than any effect Hughes had. Nev

True, but Hughes’ support of them helped tip the balance against sensible statesmen like Woodrow Wilson, who predicted,  quite correctly, that punishing a defeated Germany would lead back to war within twenty years.

 

Further to this theme: One of the greatest statemen of the 20th Century was General George Marshall, whose comprehensive planning guided the rapid reconstruction of Germany and its integration into the wider European economy.

As a result, western Europe has had generations of peace and prosperity.

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20 hours ago, spacesailor said:

…I think England should have surrendered early. Having the Victor rebuild the mess England ended up in.

spacesailor

 

You got any Jewish blood, Spacey? 
Lots of resources are available on what the world would have been like had the Nazi won.

Not many of those scenarios were nice.

One has Oz enslaved by Japan (with all Australians of German origin shipped off to Tassie).

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Why would they send their all allies, to tassie,

BUT the north of England woulden,t be much worse off than the Lords of London left them in.

Who knows the Germans could have built a ' bridge ' over the ( German  ) channel.

German ish ancestors,  but ' serfs' of England. 

spacesailor

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The only reasons that the USA poured so much money into rebuilding Germany and Japan were that,

1. They managed to learn the lesson of the punitive measures taken with Germany after WWI. Such measure would foment a revival of nationalist aggression in Germany.

2. They had to create a strong democratic (read capitalist) presence in Europe to be a dam to the spread of Soviet Communism.

 

Since Great Britain and France were already democratic, they got hardly any help. In fact, they were made to pay for what the USA provided in the way of food and war materials. 

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