Vinsamlegast notið þetta auðkenni þegar þið vitnið til verksins eða tengið í það: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/31413
The Cold War and its origins have been a constant source of debate among historians
and quite rightly so. With no access to Soviet archives until 1991 and the outcome of the hostilities unknown, historians were left to draw their own conclusions from official documents and published propaganda. Hence, as with any historical event,
interpretations have changed over time. In this paper, I set out to explore whether
assessments have shifted to a degree whereby historians today have come together in their understanding of the origins of the Cold War. In order to answer this question, an investigation is required to explore how and why these historical perspectives have
First, the two traditional viewpoints of the Cold War are discussed, namely the orthodox and revisionist interpretations. The orthodox view places responsibility on the USSR for the development of the Cold War whereas the revisionist view argues that the hostilities developed as a result of reacting to one another’s actions. Subsequently, the viewpoints of a selected group of post-Cold War historians are explored. Gaddis argues that hostilities between the United States and Soviet Union had their roots in the nations’ different perceptions of security. Zubok and Pleshakov maintain that Stalin’s character and diplomatic actions were of particular importance in the onset of the Cold War. Mastny also emphasises the role of security and how the USSR’s perception of the past shaped their future policies. Their conclusions are compared and contrasted in order to evaluate which views they have in common. When analysing current perspectives, it remains essential to determine what Russian historians are highlighting today. To do so, the Russian outlook is explored through the history curriculum of high school textbooks and teaching material, where textbooks from 2009 (and teaching material from 2007) are contrasted to the recent 2017 edition. Not only are the various viewpoints of several historians evaluated, but equally important is to evaluate the reasons that have led to the changes in their outlook.
It is clear to see that the opening of the archives, combined with the passage of time,
political depolarisation and therefore a lessened role of ideology, has led to a change in views on the origins of the Cold War. Historians today have largely reached a consensus on the general picture of the origins of the Cold War. They interpret the beginning of hostilities in a more insightful light, where deeper rooted concerns come to the fore and the role of ideology has diminished significantly from the prominence it enjoyed during the course of the Cold War. The search for security has a new significance for both the United States and particularly the Soviet Union. Then again, historians in any field of expertise will never reach the same conclusion when evaluating any conflict in history and therefore discrepancies are bound to arise but are not a cause for concern.
The origins of the Cold War remain significant today and are relevant to analysing the
future of the current relationship between Russia and the United States.
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