The United States was primarily responsible for instigating the Cold War
Debate Rounds (4)
2. No new arguments in the final round
3. The debate should be impossible to accept. Finding a way to accept without permission will result in an automatic loss for Con. If you would like to accept, please say so in the comments section, and I will challenge you in a week or so.
4. By accepting the debate, Con agrees to define the Cold War as "the period of political tension between the United States and the Soviet Union lasting from the end of World War II to the dissolution of the Societ Union in 1991; encompasses all related military conflicts."
Good luck, Con.
I look forward to an interesting debate :D
FRAMEWORK: In order to show that the United States was primarily responsible for instigating the Cold War, I will attempt to identify some of the major events and trends directly leading up to the advent of the Cold War and explain how the United States was the main agitator in each of those situations; it is only logical that if an entity is responsible for the majority of an event's causes, we consider that entity primarily responsible for the event itself as well. Additionally, since my opponent is likely to try pinning the blame primarily on the Soviet Union, I will also work to demonstrate the USSR's limited role in instigating the Cold War, thus delivering a pre-emptive blow to Con's case early on.
ROAD TO THE COLD WAR
In order to discuss the instigation of the Cold War, we must first start with the Truman Doctrine, widely acknowledged to be its "starting point". The Truman Doctrine was created in 1947, declaring the United States' intent to provide political/economic aid to any and all democratic nations suffering from an internal or external threat. This may seem like a very philanthropic action on the part of the United States, but upon closer inspection, we see that the motives were not so noble.
The Truman Doctrine arose from the US's initial response to a civil war between the Greek government and the Greek Communist party; there was absolutely no need to interfere with such a peripheral conflict, especially since there was nothing particularly 'atrocious' happening there. Moreover, the Soviets had no involvement whatsoever in the conflict, abstaining from backing the Communist party at all . It was the United Sates who intervened first, providing support to the Greek government with no legitimate justification, other than the irrational fear of the potential increase in the USSR's sphere of influence that could result from the spread of Communism. Basically, the Truman Doctrine was simply a jealous move by the United States, aimed at restricting the power of a rival superpower by promoting their own ideology and putting themselves in the 'global spotlight'.
This aspect of the Truman Doctrine led to the more important part of its legacy-- it marked "the beginning of the long process by which the United States became a world policeman, committing resources and manpower all over the world in a futile attempt to contain a mythical monolith, the international Communist conspiracy," . In other words, it marked the beginning of 'Containment'-- the American practice of trying to spread Democracy and Capitalism to as many countries as possible in order to hinder the spread of Communism and Soviet expansion in general. The policy of Containment was not only completely unjustified, but it was also the major reason that many of the military conflicts associated with the Cold War happened at all, including the Korean and Vietnamese Wars . In summary, the United States initiated the Truman Doctrine with virtually no prior Soviet aggression-- it was a jealous move by a power-hungry superpower-- and as a result, the policy of Containment was initiated, which went on to serve as the primary driving force of the Cold War.
Another area of interest when considering the causes of the Cold War is the formation of NATO in 1949, which was perhaps the closest thing resembling a declaration of war on the part of the United States. It was an international military alliance which, though not explicitly, made it exceedingly clear that its primary purpose was simply the exclusion of the Soviet Union. "'To keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down,' that was how NATO's first secretary general characterized the purpose of the military alliance after it was formed in 1949," . It is only to be expected that the Soviets would react defensively, and most certainly negatively, in the face of such hostility from practically the entire Western world.
It was these two events together that formed the basis of much of the tension which started and fueled the Cold War for the next half century of world history, and since both were almost entirely the direct responsibility of the United States, the only rational conclusion that can be drawn is that the United States is the primary instigator of the Cold War.
IN DEFENSE OF THE USSR
In response to much of what I have said above, I anticipate that my opponent will make the argument that the USSR surely must have done something significant to earn the ire of the United States and the Western European nations. But this is simply false; coming out of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union were allies, and Stalin wanted to keep it that way-- it was the irrational fear and large ambitions of the new superpower known as the United States which led up to the Cold War.
"In 'Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: from Stalin to Khrushchev' (1997), the Russian historians Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshakov, use de-classified Soviet documents to analyse Stalin"s part in causing the Cold War. They reveal a fanatic belief in Communism, lots of personal faults and mistakes, but " above all " a genuine desire to avoid confrontation with the USA" . Between the end of the World War and the Truman Doctrine, there were no acts of Soviet aggression towards any Western power, nor were there even any acts of substantial political expansion on their part.
The only event which the Soviets can be considered even partially to blame for is the Berlin Blockade, and even that happened *in retaliation* to the Truman Doctrine and similar acts of early 'containment' such as the Marshall Plan and the London Program. Furthermore, there was nothing technically wrong with what the Soviet did in the Berlin Blockade, as it was all on their own turf.
"[T]he Soviets imposed a complete blockade on Berlin. Railways and highways were restricted so that no surface traffic between the western zones and Berlin could occur. The Soviets were able to do this without breaking any international laws on a technicality; the west and the Soviet Union never made a written pact in regards to the right of western ground access to Berlin. It must be noted that at the time of the blockade Stalin did not give any ultimatums, and while the blockade was in place the Soviets did keep the door open to negotiations on the matter. As a matter of fact, Stalin curiously quipped to a western diplomat during the blockade, 'We are still allies.'" .
Examining the historical evidence objectively, we see that the Soviet Union really did nothing to deserve the hostility of the United States; the events leading up to the Cold War were all caused by the United States without any real provocation from the Soviet Union.
The resolution is affirmed.
Before I begin, I'd like to thank my opponent for an excellent opening. In the interests of fairness I will hold off on rebuttals until round 2, so I will entirely focus on building the case as to why the US is not the primary instigator of the Cold War. I would like to note that, per the resolution, I will have won the debate if I establish the cause of the Cold War as belonging to any country that isn't the United States, or if I establish that blame is shared roughly equally.
The Cold War, as defined, was "the period of political tension between the United States and the Soviet Union lasting from the end of World War II to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991; encompasses all related military conflicts". In order to understand the circumstances of the Cold War, we need to look at prior US-Soviet relations. Both nations were, along with the United Kingdom, the 'big three' countries of the Allied Powers, fighting the Axis Powers led by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Japan. Although the alliance of the US and UK was a natural alliance between two of the largest, freest powers on earth, the alliance with the USSR was one of mere convenience. During the period prior to WWII, the USSR had, supported anti-fascist movements, due to the mutual hatred the two ideologies had. However, from 1939 to 1941 the USSR became essentially the allies of the Axis powers - they co-operated with the Nazis in the partition of Poland, and sought to divide Eastern Europe into 'spheres of influence' - in other words, Nazi-dominated areas and Soviet-dominated areas. The USSR only ended their support of Nazi Germany when they were the subject of a Nazi surprise attack. By that time, however, the USSR had taken over Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, and the east of Poland. This shows an early intent of the USSR to expand their rule to all of eastern Europe. Following the war, the Soviets aided the nations of eastern Europe economically - however, the intent was not benevolent. They were able to convert many into satellite states - mere mouthpieces of the USSR, where the people were not even subject to the whims of a native dictator, but a dictator in far-off Moscow. Perhaps their biggest success was their aid to the Chinese Communist Party, leading to communist control of China that exists to this day. The result of the Soviet expansionism? This:
The Soviets utterly dominated Central and Eastern Europe. Perhaps their only failure was when they lost control of Yugoslavia, which remained communist but independent from Soviet control. This Soviet expansionism, more than anything, is the cause of the Cold War. And guess what? The Soviets weren't done here. They supported the Greek Communists in the Greek Civil War, and actively supported communist groups in both the US and Western Europe. In contrast, what did the Western powers do? They gave away money, and took no land or countries in return! The US-led Marshall plan offered economic aid to any European country that wanted it - even the Soviet Union. It also placed the recovery of Germany as key to European prosperity. Rather than accept this generous aid, Soviet leader Josef Stalin was fearful that this aid would lead to economic improvement for Europe - this was not good for him or the Soviets, as they had been utilizing economic instability to wage communist insurgencies and revolutions, and he feared a strong Germany. Rather than risking his new Eastern Bloc leaving the Soviets, he banned these nations from receiving the aid. They even tightened control in Czechloslovokia, the only Eastern Bloc state that was even partially free. In contrast, the Marshall Plan-receiving nations improved, with Italy rejecting the communists in 1948 and the Greeks defeating the communist insurgency.
Now, we've established the early years of the Cold War, but we've not yet gotten to a major crisis. So let's play a game - it's called "Guess that culprit?". I'll tell you about the earliest Cold War crisis, and you will guess who caused it. The crisis is the Berlin blockade. One power decided to blockade half of the city of Berlin, Germany, preventing food and supplies from entering. Their goal was to ensure that they - and only they - could be in control of shipments to the city, allowing them control over the entire city. Simultaneously, they aimed to disrupt the Berlin municipal elections, which resulted in a decisive win for the other side. To counter, the other power went a non-violent route - they sent airlifts to the city, denying the other power the control they desperately wanted. Now, who is the culprit? If you guessed the USSR, you would be right! Berlin was a free city, but was deep within Soviet-controlled East Germany. They wanted to control the city, but their plans backfired tremendously and they had to settle for only controlling East Berlin. Rather than tolerate open migration between the cities, however, they built the Berlin wall to keep people in East Berlin from leaving. Thus the first main crisis of the Cold War, the Berlin Blockade, was the fault of the Soviets.
Still, the Soviet hunger for power did not cease, and they maintained their active financing of global communist revolutions. The Western powers created the containment strategy to slow the spread of communism - it didn't seek to end communism (unlike how the Soviets sought the end of capitalism), but it did seek to stop global Soviet aggression. The Soviets had no such containment strategy, because the Western powers didn't seek an increase in power. They weren't the aggressors.
Now, I could just end here. After all, I have established Soviet aggression as the cause of the Cold War. However, I won't do that. Why? Because the Soviet aggression trend is provable throughout the rest of the war. These aggressions were not sudden or random, but part of a long-term Soviet aggressive trend, and their continued existence throughout the Cold War can only confirm my case. Let's look at the major Cold War conflicts:
*The Korean War (1950-53) - Emboldened by their success in China, the Soviets encouraged communist North Korea to attack non-communist South Korea. Although North Korea did the fighting, the USSR was responsible for the planning and initiation of the invasion. To the shock of the Soviets, however, the UN approved the defense of South Korea. A military alliance was formed, and it was able to push the North Koreans to the point where, in 1952, they wanted to end it. However, Josef Stalin refused to allow that, and the war only ended after Stalin's death in 1953.
*The Hungarian Revolution (1956) - A successful revolt of the people of Hungary against the oppressive Soviet dictatorship. They overthrew the Soviet new regime and the new government sought to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact, end the secret police, and re-establish a free and democratic election system. Although the new Hungarian leader Imre Nagy was a staunch Marxist, he sought to establish Hungary as a free, multi-party system. The Soviets responded by invading Hungary militarily and re-seizing control.
*The Berlin Crisis (1961) - Faced with a population (primarily consisting of young, educated professionals) that was fleeing the repressive East Berlin to go to West Berlin, the Soviets demanded the Western powers leave West Berlin. When they refused, they halted immigration and build the Berlin Wall to keep people from leaving.
*The Prague Spring (1968) - Like in Hungary, the government sought to allow greater power to the people. In response, the country was invaded by the rest of the Warsaw Pact and the reforms ended.
There are so many of these examples that I could go on for quite a while. However, the text of this debate is limited, and I think the point is understood by now - the Soviet actions, especially those conducted under Josef Stalin, were unequivocally the cause of the Cold War. Their ruthless expansionism and support of communist revolutionaries sparked the hostility and the majority of Cold War crisises. I turn the debate back to my opponent and look forward to his next round.
I will be using this round to rebut his constructive case and reinforce my own.
Con's main method of trying to negate the resolution is, predictably, to pin the blame on the Soviets. His case can be broken up into three parts: that the Soviet Union's ambitious territorial expansion is what started the Cold War, that the first act of aggression within the Cold War (Berlin Blockade) was the fault of the Soviets, and that continued Soviet aggression is what fueled the rest of the Cold War as well. I will independently address each part.
I. Soviet Expansionism
I would like to first note that there is a significant difference between doing something which indirectly leads to a war and actually instigating a war. Take the following scenario: One Sunday morning, I was innocently frolicking around in the park, when a bunch of kids from my school came and started calling me names and jeering at me for my frolicking. Feeling cornered and harassed, I came to the realization that I was hopelessly outnumbered and that they had no intention of stopping any time soon, so I ran up and kicked one of them in the shins, causing the ordeal to escalate into a fist fight. Who caused the fist fight in this situation? It is true that I could have handled the situation better, but it is absurd to suggest that my frolicking in the park, or even my kick in the shin, is what caused it. Realistically, it was the other kids who were at fault-- they were the ones who, for some reason or another, decided to take issue with me despite my having done nothing particularly wrong, and they were the ones who pressured me into defending myself. They were the ones to first display unjustified hostility.
This obviously isn't the perfect analogy for the Cold War, but that is besides the point. Con is basically trying to justify the Western actions that I have identified as the cause of the Cold War (i.e. containment, NATO, etc) as reactions to Soviet Expansionism. However, if Soviet Expansionism isn't necessarily something which warrants such reactions, then the blame still falls upon the Western powers for their unjustified hostility. The essential observation to make, here, is that literally *all* Western countries have engaged in ambitious expansionism at one point or another during their histories; by the time of the Cold War, the United States had engaged in territorial wars with Mexico, Canada, and Great Britain, committed numerous atrocities against native Americans in its westward expansion, stolen the Philippines from Spain, and economically imperialized several Latin American states. To object to Soviet expansionism after all that is simply hypocritical; as a relatively newly-formed state, it is to be expected that the USSR would have an active interest in obtaining more territory. More importantly, the USSR's expansion did not involve any aggression against Western powers at all, so there was no reason for the any of them to take issue with it.
Con attempts to paint the United States as the hero, righteously stopping the 'evil force' of the Soviet Union from taking over the world, but in reality, what the USSR was doing was no different from what the US and other major European powers had done in the past, and it was really not harming them in any significant way either. Thus, the Western powers' reaction to Soviet expansionism was wholly unjustified, based more in their own greed for power than anything else; it is the Western powers who first displayed hostility, much like the bullies in the presented scenario, meaning that only they can be blamed for the ensuing Cold War.
II. Berlin Blockade
Con claims that the Berlin Blockade was the first crisis of the Cold War, and that the Soviets were fully at fault for it. However, this claim relies on a thoroughly American-biased perspective of the events that transpired; looking at it more objectively, we see that the Soviets' motivations for doing what they did were not *nearly* as bad as Con makes them out to be. His claims regarding the Soviet desire to keep Europe economically weak are completely without evidence, as are his characterizations of the 'generous aid' given by the United States in the Marshall Plan. His argument largely just consists of rhetoric attempting to paint a clear good vs. bad distinction between the USA and the USSR, lacking in actual evidence.
In reality, the Marshall Plan was primarily motivated by an irrational desire for containment on the part of the American government: "Fanned by the fear of Communist expansion and the rapid deterioration of European economies in the winter of 1946"1947, Congress passed the Economic Cooperation Act in March 1948" (https://history.state.gov...). The Marshall plan was certainly implemented with the intent of promoting democracy in potential regions of Soviet influence, so there was good reason for the Soviets to wish to prevent the flow of American aid to regions under their control. Furthermore, the United States' decision to engage in the Berlin Airlift to circumvent the blockade was completey motivated by political reasons, rather than by a desire to provide humanitarian relief, as Con would have us believe: "[The blockade] left the western nations with the choice of either being politically pressured out of West Berlin (which would diminish their prestige in the rest of Europe), or staying... the western powers would not give in. To demonstrate their resolve, the Americans orchestrated a monumental airlift which flew necessities such as coal and food into the western sectors of Berlin," (http://www.coldwar.org...). The blockade was an attempt by the Soviets to hinder the Americans' unjust attempts at subtle containment, and the airlift was simply a show to gain international prestige on the part of the Americans.
It is also worth noting that nothing the Soviets did was outside of the scope of the power granted to them by the other Western powers, even according to unbiased sources such as the Cold War Museum. Thus, when we take into account the perspective of the USSR, we see that the Berlin Blockade was not an act of Soviet aggression, but a justifiable response to the unprecedented hostility of the United States. Like me kicking one of the bullies in the shin, it was probably not the best decision, but it was not an unwarranted decision either. Once again, the initiator of the conflict, the United States, must take the blame.
III. Continued Aggression
This argument is irrelevant to the debate. It matters not what happened during the war, but what *started* the war. Once the fist fight gets started, both parties are going to be throwing punches-- but that doesn't change who actually started the fist fight. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were guilty of numerous acts of aggression once the war started... which is why it is called a "war". All Con has done is list out some of the acts of aggression committed by the Soviets, fallaciously expecting us to accept that as evidence that the USSR started the Cold War.
1. Soviet Expansionism does not serve as a valid justification for the hostility displayed by the United States through the Truman Doctrine and formation of NATO.
2. The Berlin Blockade was simply a response to the United States' earliest attempts at containment (Marshall Plan), and was actually completely legal according to international laws at the time.
3. Acts of aggression committed during the war have no bearing on who originally caused the war.
I look forward to Con's response!
I'd like to thank my opponent for a good rebuttal. In this round, I will primarily be rebutting my opponent's arguments - both from his opening statements and first rebuttals.
To begin his opening arguments, my opponent asserts that the Truman Doctrine is 'widely considered' to be the "starting point" of the Cold War. My opponent makes a rather odd argument here - he asserts that the Soviets and Soviet-backed states had no involvement in Greece, but argues that the US support of the Greek government in its fight against communists is what sparked the Cold War. If he is true, that argument is nonsensical - if the Soviets had no stake in the Greek Civil War, why would they care if the US opposed the communists? The only reason the Soviets would care is if they stood to gain from the situation. Far from a 'jealous move' by the US in fear the Soviets would expand their sphere of influence (far from an invalid fear, really), the Truman Doctrine was a logical response to Soviet expansionism and a valid support mechanism for the free countries of Europe - the goal wasn't to expand democracy at the expense of communism, but to contain communism by protecting the democratic states against Eastern-backed communist insurgents.
But, more bizarrely, my opponent seems to completely misunderstand the containment policy. He asserts - without any evidence - that containment was "the American practice of trying to spread Democracy and Capitalism to as many countries as possible in order to hinder the spread of Communism and Soviet expansion in general". That is rubbish. The containment policy was not designed to push back Russia out of it's satellite states - far from it. The American people had no interest in another ground war. Rather, the goal was to stop Soviet expansionism by supporting the established governments in countries where communists were attempting to usurp power. My opponent also asserts the Korean and Vietnam wars were caused by the United States, which is bizarre - I established in my opening statements that "the Soviets encouraged communist North Korea to attack non-communist South Korea. Although North Korea did the fighting, the USSR was responsible for the planning and initiation of the invasion". In Vietnam, the war was sparked not by the US, but by a conflict between communist Ho Chi Minh's guerrilla army and the French, who all sides (including the Soviet Union) agreed was the colonial power in the country. The French later withdrew, leaving the war to be between the Soviet-backed North Vietnam (led by Ho Chi Minh) and the Western-backed South Vietnam. The misunderstanding of the cause of these wars is understandable, but not excusable. This can be best summed up when my opponent asserts that "the United States initiated the Truman Doctrine with virtually no prior Soviet aggression" - sure, if you exclude all the Eastern and Central European countries they took over and their support of communist revolutions in Asia and the Middle East.
My opponent also notes the existence of NATO, arguing it helped spark the Cold War. I disagree - it would be fair to argue that NATO probably was an aggressive act, yes. However, the creation of it was due to the strong ties the member states had developed during World War II, as well as a reaction to the Soviet Berlin Blockade. NATO was not an aggressive alliance, but a defensive one - if any nation of NATO was attacked, all nations of NATO would respond to defend them. Given the Soviet history of expansionism, this is a completely reasonable alliance model, one that the Soviets themselves copied with the creation of the Warsaw Pact. Of course, the difference between the two was that the nations of NATO were all sovereign, democratic and independent states, while the Warsaw Pact nations were all puppets of the USSR.
Now, my opponent devotes the second portion of his opening to defending the USSR. He argues Stalin had no intentions of aligning against the US - this is an interesting concept, but one that isn't supported by history. Through the second World War, Stalin was very suspicious of the other two members of the Big Three (US and UK). He felt they had conspired to make Russia be the ones bearing the brunt of the ground war against Nazi Germany. As I established in my opening statements, after the war, the nations all disagreed on how to best ensure their security - the Western states felt there should be free, democratic states that could resolve their differences through diplomacy, while the Soviets wanted to control the states surrounding them to increase their own security. My opponent agrees the Berlin Blockade was the Soviet's fault, which is a key admission - the Berlin Blockade is regarded as the first escalation in the Cold War conflict. The cause of the blockade wasn't the Truman doctrine, but the Soviet's dislike of the Western Allies' creation of a united West German currency. As I established in my opening, Stalin feared a strong Germany. The cause here, accordingly, was Soviet fear - not the Truman Doctrine.
I'll now begin my response to my opponent's rebuttals. Before he begins, my opponent notes I pin the blame for the Cold War on the USSR - this is only partially true. I place about equal blame on the USSR and Josef Stalin.
In response to my assertions of Soviet expansionism, my opponent's response is a bit disappointing. He cannot rebut the fact that Soviets were aggressively expansive, but argues the US and other Western powers had expanded before, so there is nothing wrong with the Soviets doing it. Unfortunately, this fails for pretty obvious reasons - first off, it is a massive reversal from his opening round, where he argued the Soviets had no expansion. Second, the US and allies hadn't expanded in decades at most - the US had gotten rid of it's biggest colony, the Philippines, in 1946, and the UK was actively disposing of it's biggest colonies like India and Pakistan. This is the key difference - while the US and allies were letting nations decide their own fate, the Soviets were robbing people of their right to self-determination and, more importantly, were using their land as a buffer zone against the free states of Europe. Their expansion didn't cease, and would inevitably reach the borders of Western Europe. More importantly, he argues the expansion 'wasn't harming' the West - however, this is simply silly. The expansion of the Soviets into Eastern and Central Europe certainly harmed economic trade, national security, and territorial integrity.
He argues that I attempt to paint the US as the hero, stopping evil Soviet expansionism, when in fact the West was just as bad and instigated the war. I've already rebutted this, but this is silly - the West and the USSR were not moral equivalents and, more importantly, it was the USSR - not the West - that instigated the Cold War through a relentless march of expansionism.
In regards to the Berlin Blockade, my opponent's argument can be summed up as "Well, the Soviets were wrong, but they weren't that wrong". Bizarrely, he's argued I've presented my points without evidence (which is rubbish as everything is sourced). He asserts that the Marshall Plan was the result of an "irrational desire for containment on the part of the American government". My opponent had never given a reason why it is 'irrational' to not want communism to spread to western Europe, however. My opponent also argues that "The Marshall plan was certainly implemented with the intent of promoting democracy in potential regions of Soviet influence, so there was good reason for the Soviets to wish to prevent the flow of American aid to regions under their control". This is an interesting complaint - he seems to think it is bad the US wanted to give free money to everyone, and that the Soviets were justified in rejecting this free money because it could have 'spread democracy'. This is a narrow view of the situation, because the Marshall plan worked. From 1948 to 1952, Europe underwent its fastest period of growth in history. Both industrial and agricultural production increased dramatically, poverty went down, and standards of living were improved. It also provided political stability to the more unstable Western European countries. You can judge for yourself if that is a bad thing - in my opponent's opinion, it seems he is fine with Soviet expansionism, but not fine with economic aid for Europe. In mine is inexcusable Stalin rejected this aid, as it would have vastly improved the quality of life in the Soviet satellite states and the USSR itself. But back to the Berlin blockade, my opponent simply has no ground to stand on here. The Soviets instigated in a power grab attempt, and they lost.
Finally, my opponent attempts to dismiss my arguments on continuing Soviet expansionism throughout the Cold War, arguing "t matters not what happened during the war, but what *started* the war". This is silly. My opponent noted issues that went on during the war in his opening statements (in particular, the Korean and Vietnam wars), so he's being a bit hypocritical here. I extend all these points.
I look forward to my opponent's conclusion.
I will be using this round to rebut all the major points of Con's R3 and present a concluding statement for my case.
Since both of our cases seem to overlap quite a bit, I can just continue using the three sections from last round.
I. Soviet Expansionism
My main argument is based on the notion that the USA's enactment of containment policies, such as with the Truman Doctrine, and its other blatantly anti-Soviet actions, like the formation of NATO, were what caused the Cold War. Con's case attempts to pin the blame for those back on the USSR, claiming that they were just reactions to Soviet expansionism. However, what he fails to do is show that Soviet expansionism was actually a significant threat which warranted such hostile reactions on the part of the United States. I made two arguments in defense of Soviet expansionism: that it was no different from what any Western power had been doing for the past 200 years, and that it involved no direct aggression against Western powers. Con makes several claims in response...
>> "...it is a massive reversal from his opening round, where he argued that the Soviets had no expansion"
This is false. I did not deny that the Soviets were expanding-- I denied that the inflammatory responses of the United States to the perceived threat of Soviet expansionism were justified. I have been arguing from the start that it is those irrational, unjustified responses which were the cause of the Cold War.
>> "...the US and allies hadn't expanded in decades at most"
That does not change the fact that they have done so before, and that their current levels of prosperity could not have existed without undergoing a period of expansionism first. It is massively hypocritical for the Western powers to object to Soviet expansionism on any sort of moral basis after all that ("Jimmy, when I was your age, I used to cheat on tests all the time, which is why I aced all my classes and now have a 100k+ salary, but I'm going to beat the tar out of you if you try doing that!"). The USSR was a new country and was carving out its niche on the European international scene, like any rising political power. The Western powers had no reason to object, *especially* since there was no direct aggression against them involved.
>> "Their expansion didn't cease, and would inevitably reach the borders of Western Europe."
Bare assertion. Stalin had no interest in a military confrontation with the Western powers, as I demonstrated earlier. Looking at it rationally, there was absolutely no reason for him to desire such a thing anyways, and historically, he did actively work to avoid it.
>> "The expansion of the Soviets into Eastern and Central Europe certainly harmed economic trade..."
Another bare assertion. No such trend exists. And even if there were indirect economic harms of Soviet expansionism, that is irrelevant, as the original argument was that there was no *aggression* against the West. The Soviets did nothing to directly threaten or harm the West, which is why the United States' provocative actions were wholly unjustified, with their fear of Soviet expansionism being based purely in delusion.
>> "The West and the USSR were not moral equivalents and, more importantly, it was the USSR- not the West- that instigated the Cold War through a relentless march of expansionism"
Yet another bare assertion. Con gives us no reason to believe that the two are not moral equivalents, when the all evidence (i.e. the fact that both have engaged in rigorous expansionism) suggests that they are. The cause of the Cold War was not the 'march of expansionism', but the Western powers' decisions to arbitrarily and hypocritically take issue with that expansionism, to see a threat where there was none, and to pull the Soviets into the Cold War with the resulting hostility.
As for Con's claims that NATO was a defensive alliance, rather than an offensive one... they are irrelevant; the primary reason the formation of NATO is considered a display of hostility is that it purposefully alienated the USSR, almost making that one of its primary goals. The Warsaw Pact was simply a reaction to that blatant discrimination-- the equivalent of a child who has been excluded from the 'cool kids club' consoling himself by creating his own club with its membership consisting of all his action figures and stuffed animals.
Both the Truman Doctrine (and all other forms of early containment) and the formation of NATO were displays of unprecedented hostility on the part of the United States. Con has not shown that Soviet expansionism posed even a minimal threat to the West, much less that it justified such hostility. This argument alone wins the debate-- the Berlin Blockade only happened *after* the USA's initiation of containment. It was the United States which first introduced the tension of the Cold War with its paranoia and jealousy.
II. Berlin Blockade
Con pulls a rhetorical appeal to emotion on me, but it is entirely irrelevant; the Soviets are justified in rejecting American aid simply because they have sovereignty over their own subjects. They even had rational reason (politically) to reject the aid, as Americans were only giving the aid with the goal of self-aggrandizement and the spreading of democratic ideals. Furthermore, there is nothing remotely wrong about what the Soviets did, from a legal perspective. Again, I readily concede that the Berlin Blockade was not the *ideal* Soviet reaction to the Truman Doctrine, but I maintain that it was an *acceptable* reaction. Con has not been able to prove otherwise.
III. Continued Aggression
Con dismisses my rationale for why this topic is outside of the resolution's scope, instead just claiming that I ran a similar argument earlier. However, if we look back at my constructive case, the only reason I briefly mentioned the Vietnam and Korean Wars was to show that containment was a major cause of Cold War tensions. It was not meant to be used as evidence for the resolution itself, as Con is trying to do; it simply served as a validation of the notion that containment is important.
Soviet expansionism posed no direct danger to the West, and was quite typical of a growing political power. The United States instigated the Cold War with its irrational fear of Communism and Soviet power, initiating policies of early containment such as the Truman Doctrine and NATO. The Berlin Blockade was an understandable reaction to such displays of American hostility, being completely within legal bounds and having a just rationale as far as international politics go. The rest of the Cold War escalated much the same way that a heated argument turns into a fist fight. But regardless of how the fist fight proceeds, there is no doubt that the instigator of the fist fight was the one who first came up and randomly started cussing the other out, and in this case, that would be the United States.
The resolution is affirmed.
Thank you, TN05, for providing such a challenging opposition for this awesome debate ^_^
Before I begin my closing round, I'd like to thank my opponent for an excellent debate. In my closing round, I will be rebutting my opponent's final round, as well as comparing his case with mine.
In my opponent's conclusion, he divides my arguments into three points: Soviet expansionism, Berlin Blockade, and continued aggression. I will respond to each in order.
With the overwhelming evidence I presented of a long-standing trend of Soviet aggression, my opponent has essentially reversed his prior stance ("the United States initiated the Truman Doctrine with virtually no prior Soviet aggression") and agreed with me that the Soviets were responsible for the unjust annexation or proxy control of a large number of Eastern and Central European countries, as well as other communist states like China, Cuba, North Vietnam and North Korea. Faced with these indefensible facts, my opponent doesn't actually defend them - rather, he argues two points: that such expansion posed no threat to free Europe, and that many of those countries had colonies at one point, so they had no right to condemn the Soviets. The problem with this is twofold - ruthless Soviet expansionism is a prime facie claim. A hostile country taking over other countries near your own country is an obvious threat to Western security, and even if it wasn't I already established that the USSR was actively funding and supporting communist parties and insurgencies in Western and/or free countries. My opponent has shown absolutely nothing to refute my claims of Soviet aggression, both through invasion and insurgency. In contrast, he's trying to shift the burden on to me to prove an obvious wrong. To his second claim, he argues that "The USSR was a new country and was carving out its niche on the European international scene, like any rising political power". This is an absurd statement. For one, the USSR was not a new country - it was simply Russia with a different name. For another, it was already one of the most powerful countries in Europe, even before the Soviets took power. This claim should be treated as it is: false.
My opponent also made a few other claims on expansionism, like that he "did not deny that the Soviets were expanding" (which is false, given that he said "the United States initiated the Truman Doctrine with virtually no prior Soviet aggression"), and that the Soviet aggressive trend would inevitably reach Western Europe (which it inevitably did) are just as false. Oddly, my opponent asserts "that there was no *aggression* against the West" - an absurd claim on the face of it given their alliance with the anti-Western Nazis, their invasion of free European countries, the Soviet proxy wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the Soviet funding of communist insurgents in Greece. He also argues that "As for Con's claims that NATO was a defensive alliance, rather than an offensive one... they are irrelevant; the primary reason the formation of NATO is considered a display of hostility is that it purposefully alienated the USSR, almost making that one of its primary goals". This is another baseless claim, and actually contradicts his argument with regards to Russian expansionism. For whatever reason, he finds it perfectly fine and completely non-hostile and non-aggressive for the Soviets to take over at least 10 countries, but a defensive alliance between the remaining free nations of Europe is an unprecedented act of hostility and aggression. In no universe does that make any sense whatsoever.
My opponent's remaining two cases are much shorter. In regards to the Berlin Blockade, he does barely any refuting - his argument instead seems to be that the USSR was the rightful controlling power of West Berlin (which is completely false) and that the Soviets didn't technically do anything illegal. However, my case was not based around legality - it was based around aggression. Cutting off access to an enclave is undoubtedly an act of aggression towards the lest, and it's a big one given that the Berlin Blockade is widely regarded as the first aggressive act of the Cold War. in regards to continued aggression, my opponent continues to argue that has nothing to do with this debate. Unfortunately, he is wrong. My argument here relates to a historical trend of Soviet aggression - one that began in the 1930s and extended well into the Cold War. While hardly critical to my case, I believe that does indeed fall into the confines of this debate. I extend these issues to the final round.
In his conclusion, my opponent has essentially taken a 180 from his previous round. In his opening, my opponent essentially casts the Soviets as a friendly, peaceful and non-expansionist Western-aligned country, brought into conflict with the US only through the actions of the US and the West. In his conclusion, he only argues the Soviets posed 'no direct danger' to the West, while trying to keep the rest of his argument intact. Unfortunately, this doesn't quite work. My opponent's concession that the Soviets were indeed expansionist essentially undermines his attempt to case the US as a purely aggressive force, and the US as a purely destructive one. I think it is clear to see here that my opponent's case simply doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
In contrast to my opponent's case, my case is extremely compelling and supported by historical evidence. The Soviets were anti-Western as early as the 1930s, through their alliance with the Nazis and takeover of numerous surrounding countries, their takeover of numerous countries after the war, their rejection of Marshall Fund money, their support of communist parties and insurgents, and their sparking of wars like the Korean and Vietnam wars. I've also established they were responsible for the first major crisis of the Cold War (the Berlin Blockade) and this aggression extended well into the Cold War itself. Thus I have not only utterly refuted my opponent's case, but I have also affirmatively established my own case (namely, that responsibility for the instigation of the Cold War lies primarily with the USSR and it's leader, Josef Stalin). I rest my case, and I look forward to seeing what the voters decide.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by YYW 2 years ago
|Who won the debate:||-|
Reasons for voting decision: I think PRO oversells the USSR, just as CON misunderstands the impact that the Truman doctrine had. CON seemed to be operating from the assumption the entire time that what the US did was necessarily justified because the US did it. Whether certain acts were or were not justified, CON doesn't really consider how those actions impacted the USSR in a reasonable or critical way. Nevertheless, while I agree with CON as a matter of historical fact, PRO takes arguments.
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