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Alternative Accounts of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict: a history of the US-Russia relations during the Cold War, part V (a)

27th July 1946: A Japanese child sits crying in the rubble of Hiroshima a year after the city was devastated by the world’s first atomic bomb attack, on August 6, 1945. In a radio broadcast 16 hours after the attack, newly appointed President Harry S. Truman said the United States had dropped the bomb “in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.” About 80,000 people died instantly in the bombing; virtually every building in Hiroshima was destroyed or damaged.

Cont’d from part IV


The Faustian pact between the USSR and Western powers, so critical in assuring the Allies’ victory, lasted no longer than the war itself. [1] Even as the Pacific theater of operations was drawing to a close, the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the first sign of a developing fissure in East-West relations. Not only were the Soviets excluded from participating in the 1942-1945 Manhattan Project [2] even as the war in Europe was still in progress and its outcome far from certain; they were also excluded from having a voice in determining the future of post-war Japan.[3] [4] [5]

This fissure would only grow exponentially as time went by, and it would come to define geopolitical realities for the rest of the 20th century.

It came to be known as the Cold War.


The origins of the term “Cold War” are many and varied. As per OUPblog. George Orwell was one of the first to have coined the term, (See, for instance, Orwell’s October 19, 1945 essay, “You and the Atomic Bomb.”)

The American journalist, Walter Lippmann, popularized the term, in a series of 1947 essays in response to US diplomat George Kennan’s “Mr. X” article, which advocated the policy of containment. [6] And then, there was Bernard Baruch, a multimillionaire, financier, and presidential advisor who had popularized the term to describe the United States and Russian relations.[7]

The term had stuck.


On March 12, 1947, in his address before a joint session of Congress—see this link in Ballotpedia–President Harry S. Truman recalibrated the US stance vis-à-vis the Soviets. And although the nominal object of the speech was “to ask Congress for $400 million in military and economic assistance for Turkey and Greece,” the underlying purpose was to articulate US foreign policy in a rapidly changing world.

“It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures,” Truman stated. 

It became the basis of the Truman Doctrine and the related Domino Theory, both of which “would guide US foreign policy around the world for the next 40 years.” [8] Interestingly, Truman’s speech made no mention of “the Cold War,” but the implication was clear.

In so many words, Truman’s doctrine defined the Cold War.


Let’s identify some of the critical dimensions of the Cold War—the many fronts on which it was fought. These were: (i) the formation of East- and West military alliances as counterparts, each representing their respective bloc; (ii) wars, proxy wars, and covert operations; and (iii) the propaganda war, including space and arms races and other forms of competition.

Let me state at the outset that the ordering of these dimensions is not chronological but causal—in a sense that, in my thinking, “i” was the primary cause, leading to “ii” and “iii.” If you’re looking for a chronologic order of ground-breaking events of the Cold War era, you’d do well to consult any number of timelines covering this period of history, such as “Cold War Timeline: when did the Cold War start and end” in World History Edu, for instance, or “Cold War Timeline: key events from 1917 through 1991” in ThoughtCo.

Let me also state—and I can’t emphasize it enough!–that the Cold War was, at bottom, a war of ideologies, positing capitalism (and liberal democracies) on the one hand and communism (and totalitarian regimes) on the other as two mutually exclusive systems: economic, political, and social.[9] 

I’ll conclude the Cold War segment in the forthcoming article.


  1. See “Churchill’s Deal with the Devil: The Anglo-Soviet Agreement Of 1941,” a July 12, 2011 article in DefenseMediaNetwork.
  2. For the Soviet reaction to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, see a recounting of the August 8, 1945 meeting between Joseph Stalin and the US Ambassador. W. A. Harriman, in “How did the USSR react to the bombing of Hiroshima?” courtesy of The Open University. Also, see “The Soviet Union and the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” an August 4, 2020 article in Wilson Center.
  3. See “Soviets Spy on the Manhattan Project,” an October 10, 2014 article by Ian Harvey in War History Online. As regards Soviets’ efforts at developing the A-bomb, see the Soviet atomic bomb project in Wikipedia. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki provided sufficient incentive, and come August 29, 1949, “the Soviet Union secretly conducted its first successful [nuclear] weapon test.” The race was on!
  4. This was a hard pill to swallow, especially given the preponderance of evidence that the Soviets played a significant role in bringing Japan to its knees. Granted, the Soviet offensive against Japan was eclipsed by the dropping of A-bombs, as per this article, for example, but the fact remains that the USSR’s contribution to the war effort, even in the Pacific theater of operations, cannot be ignored. See, for instance, (i) “The Bomb Didn’t Beat Japan… Stalin Did” in Foreign Policy (FP);  (ii) “Soviet Victory Over Japan Made Decisive Contribution To End World War II–Analysis,” a September 1,  2020 article in eurasiareview; (iii)  Soviet-Japanese War in Wikipedia; and (iv) “Soviets declare war on Japan; invade Manchuria,” an August 5, 2020 entry in History. It’s also noteworthy that another article along the same lines, “Historians rethink key Soviet role in Japan’s defeat in WWII,” in JapanToday was withdrawn from publication because it “has expired,” despite its fairly recent publication date of August 16, 2010. Was it because of the West’s present-day proclivity to knock down anything that even remotely comes across as being pro-Russian?
  5. See “Occupation and Reconstruction of Japan, 1945–52,” an entry in Office of the Historian.
  6. See “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” a pdf, in the July 1946 edition of Foreign Affairs. Also, see “’ Mr. X’ article on Soviet Union appears in Foreign Affairs” in History and “The History of Containment Policy: George Kennan and American Foreign Policy during the Cold War,”  an August 8, 2019 article by Kennedy Hickman in ThoughtCo. Finally, see “The Ghosts of Kennan: Lessons from the Start of the Cold War,” a review essay by Fredrik Logevall in the January/February issue of Foreign Affairs.
  7. See Walter Lippmann, a Wiki entry, Lippmann’s own book, Cold War: A Study In U.S. Foreign Policy (which you can read online on “Internet Archive, as per this link) and two book reviews: “Walter Lippmann, Strategic Internationalism, the Cold War, and Vietnam, 1943-1967,” a dissertation by Matthew Wasniewski, and “Walter Lippmann, emotion, and the history of international theory,” Eric Van Rythoven’s August 24, 2021 article in International Theory.
  8. Also, see the “March 12, 1947, Truman Doctrine Announced” article in NYT. Concerning the Domino Theory, see this article in alpha history and.“Domino Theory,” November 9, 2022 article by the editors of History.
  9. To say that the Cold War was a war of ideologies isn’t to say that it was without real-life consequences—consequences manifested in concrete geopolitical terms. It was a war about maintaining and/or extending one’s sphere of influence.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

  • Thank you Roger. For me the Soviet spies in the Manhattan project were a huge deal. Stalin knew enough to want to see what it did. My understanding is Japan still had diplomatic relations through Russia and wanted to talk about a peace and cease fire. Stalin never let us know that. And seeing what our bomb the he knew was proven to work was a big reason.

  • Has anyone in the staff heard from or seen Roger Nowosielski in the last few day? His sister Barbara and I have been trying to locate him. He is not at his apartment and is not answering his cell.
    I would appreciate some help. Thank you for your time in advance.

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