The end of World War II had heralded along and protracted competition for military and economic supremacy between the United States and the Soviets Union. Before the onset of the postwar period, United States policymakers had realized that their country had enormous relative power gains created an unparallel to shape the postwar period. The United States had realized that conditions for her expansion were conducive at the end of the war. During the war period, Europe did not present the United States with an opportunity for expansion. There existed great powers in Europe such as Britain, France, Germany, and the Soviets Union, therefore, had the US sought to expand during that period, the move would have been resisted. This led to the United State’s conception of the postwar world’s strategic, economic, and ideological interests. Thus, United States had made conclusions of its postwar global hegemony as a prerequisite for the achievement of postwar objectives even before World War II had ended.
Following that war period, the United States saw the Soviet Union as the only obstacle to its hegemony. Therefore the United States had to formulate its strategic policies aimed at securing that hegemony by removing the Soviets as a peer competitor in the first post-war decade. This paper discusses the following: one, the American objectives following World War II according to Ambassador Nicolai Novikov’s ‘Telegram to Moscow”; two, how Novikov’s views compared with what Americans believed they were doing a set of originally by President Truman with his ‘policy of containment’; and three, explores the third world perspective on the world after 1945 among revolutionaries in Vietnam, particularly discussing how their views were shaped by their colonial past, and the issues that were most important to them as the cold war unfolded.
The Soviet Union had relative power over international affairs, particularly in European countries. They also had an independent foreign policy, were able to extend political and economic assistance to her neighbors including both her allies and foes during the war. This had led to the growth of the Soviet political influence in these countries. Such a scenario was not helping but was regarded by the United States which had opted for global hegemony as an obstacle to its expansionist policy. Having assessed United States ambitious and aggressive policies and maneuvers especially world affairs, the Soviets ambassador to United States Nikolai Novikov sent a’ telegram to Moscow’ which had stated American objectives following World War II as follows: one, to increase the American imperialist tendency expansionism to reduce the Soviets strong influence in Eastern and Southern Europe by taking measures to strengthen reactionary forces for the purpose of opposing democratic reconstruction in Germany. The Soviet’s influence in this region was regarded by the United States as an obstacle to its expansionist policies. For instance, the Soviets had her military forces stationed in Germany and Slavic countries which guaranteed her that these countries could not be used in an attack against her. The Slavic countries were liberated by the Soviets Red Army and had established regimes that maintained loyal relations with her on the basis of agreement on friendship and mutual assistance; two, the American increased military expenditure was aimed at dominating the world played by its strong armed forces. For instance, it had established a large number of military bases in the United States and areas beyond its borders. This was reinforced by the passing of the forming of a ‘peace time army on the basis of universal military service’ in 1946 by congress. The American objectives indicated open peacetime of the United States military strategic concepts; three, to threaten the security of the southern region of the Soviet Union by strengthening military positions in the Near East and forming conditions that based their navy in the Mediterranean; fourth, to limit the role of the Soviets in the postwar world especially through its policy regarding Germany, where the US took measures to strengthen reactionary forces aimed at opposing democratic reconstruction. The United States planned to use Germany as a future war on its side; fifth, the United States was preparing for its future conducting its affairs with the prospect of going to war with the Soviets which is considered an obstacle to its path of world hegemony.
Ambassador Nikovic’s views of United States policies and intentions in his ‘telegram to Moscow’ compared with what Americans believed they were doing as set forth as originally set forth by President Truman’s ‘containment policy’ as follows: first, whereas Nikovic viewed American policies as aimed at enhancing her imperialist tendency of expansionism, the Americans, on the other hand, formulated those policies with aim of containing what they perceived to be the Soviets aggression and expansionism. The American policy of containment according to Americans was aimed at countering the influence of the Soviets over world affairs in order to; bring stability in the international arena, and to deter the spread of totalitarian and undemocratic governments; second, whereas Nikovic viewed American increased military expenditure as aimed at dominating the world played its armed forces, United States undertook that policy to keep an adequate balance of power with the Soviet Union. Nikovic viewed the increase in military expenditure by the United States as America’s plan to dominate the world played by its armed forces. According to the United States, the increase in military expenditure was occasioned by the perceived threats by the Soviets Union to dominate internationally. The Americans were pursuing the policy of military containment to reduce the influence of the Soviets internationally; third, the American policy of strengthening its positions in the Near East and deployment of its naval army on the Mediterranean Sea was viewed by Nikovic as a threat to the security of the southern region of the Soviet Union. The Americans viewed their behavior as aimed at securing areas of strategic interests that they felt threatened United States security and economic interests. The Americans viewed the expansion of the Soviets into strategic areas of the world, more so to countries beyond the spheres of the US such as Turkey, Iran, and Greece as a threat to its security and economic interests. These were areas of strategic importance and therefore United States so it ass a threat to global balance especially the pressures of the Soviets on Iran and Turkey; fourth, whereas Nikovic interpreted the United States objective policy regarding Germany to mean that the US was planning to use Germany in a future war on its side, the United States, on the other hand, was concerned with the policy stability in the region and deterring the spread of totalitarian and undemocratic regimes; fifth, the overall American foreign policy objectives were aimed at a future prospect of going to war with the Soviet because the United States considered the Soviet Union as an obstacle its world domination. Americans on the other hand viewed their foreign policies as aimed at securing the strategic interests that it perceived threatened their security and economic interests.
After World War II in 1945, new revolutionary movements for national liberations emerged as the cold war unfolded. These movements sought new forms of political independence despite the fact that they were affected by the cold war. Immediately after the Vietnamese freed themselves from the French and Japanese in 1945, revolutionary leaders sought to reposition Vietnam in relation to the rest of the world. However, the post-colonial dreams of independence and autonomy for most of the Third World were affected by the increasing tension between capitalist and communist countries. These tensions made it difficult for former colonies to detach themselves from superpower conflicts. The potency of the Third world was undermined in the mid1950s despite the defeat of the French and Japanese by the Vietnamese. Due to the cold war, newly independent Third World countries could not remain uncommitted. These countries were obliged to align themselves on one side or the other of the capitalist and communist divide.
North Vietnamese became aware of the serious without the socialists’ world as they began to insert themselves into a new international community dominated by the Soviet Union and the Chinese. The evidence of these divisions emerged in the wake of the death of Stalin in 1953. The recognition of ‘national communism’ in Yugoslavia by Tito in 1955 was the first move. Tito further went a head and stunned the world by formally denouncing Stalin in 1956 at the 20th party congress. The communists in Poland and Hungary were emboldened by these events. They began to agitate for national independence, which lasted until the Soviets crushed the Hungarian uprising in November 1956. These events made the limits of de-Stalinization clear and also suggested a range of possibilities that socialist states could imagine, if not actually achieved, in post-Stalinist era. Complicating what the Vietnamese viewed in their perspective as already a difficult terrain, the tensions between the Soviets Union and the Peoples Republic China.