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Safeguarding Democratic CapitalismU.S. Foreign Policy and National Security, 1920-2015$
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Melvyn P Leffler

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196510

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196510.001.0001

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Adherence to Agreements

Adherence to Agreements

Yalta and the Experiences of the Early Cold War

(p.187) 6 Adherence to Agreements
Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism

Melvyn P. Leffler

Princeton University Press

This chapter charts a middle road between traditional and revisionist scholars on the Cold War and highlights how ambiguities and uncertainties influenced the behavior of both Washington and Moscow. It reveals that the Yalta agreements were vague, purposefully so, because Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were seeking to pave over their differences, sustain the wartime alliance, and establish a framework for postwar cooperation. Once victory was assured, the impulse to cooperate waned as new circumstances and new fears intensified mutual distrust and catalyzed unilateral moves to insure security. These actions were coupled with harsh condemnations of one another's treachery. Yet neither the Americans nor the Russians really wanted to antagonize the potential rival; they wanted to seize upon ambiguities in the wartime agreements to enhance their respective notions of security. By engaging in rhetorical overkill, leaders in both capitals made compromise and accommodation more difficult. Few Americans, however, understood how their own rhetoric, charges, and actions contributed to the collapse of the wartime alliance.

Keywords:   Cold War, Yalta agreements, postwar cooperation, wartime alliance, wartime agreements, national security

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