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Though few issues in the course of history are clear-cut even the most consequential of topics are often diligently pasteurized when presented to young minds and the common public Consequently it is not surprising that the overwhelming majority of the public would see no need for pause when considering the protagonist of the Cold War to be the United States and the antagonist to be the Soviet Union As a result it is refreshing to read the essays of two scholars strongly debating the placement of cause with the USA or the USSR The first essay by Barton Bernstein proposes that it was in fact the United States aggressive and belligerent actions that ignited the war and that the actions of the Soviet Union were largely defensive and occurred in response to the actions of the US The US not only attempted to coerce the Eastern European countries into a democratic read anti-soviet American Bloc but also failed to appreciate a threat to Soviet national security used nuclear might in the place of traditional diplomacy and directly instigated the war by handicapping the Soviets reconstruction efforts after the war In Bernsteins own words America was pursuing the task of reshaping much of the world according to its own needs and standards Central to Bernsteins argument is the assertion that President Truman held a lasting contempt for the Soviet Union dating long before the start of the Cold War Bernstein cites a wartime quote of then-Senator Truman If we see that Germany is winning the war we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and in that way kill as many as possible Bernstein implies that the largest contributor to the appropriate and ill-advised actions on the part of the United States in the Cold War was the death of Roosevelt and the ascendancy of Truman who proceeded to maliciously reverse the policies of Roosevelt citing them as too
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