Study Guide for Gillon, The American Paradox, Chapter 1

 

  • Note chapter title.
  • George Kennan – who was he, why did American officials turn to him, how did he answer, and how did his answers impact American foreign policy?
  • Historians’ different interpretations and approaches to the history of the Cold War
  • Tensions between U.S. and U.S.S.R before World War II
  • Mistrust between the two nations during the war
  • Two nations’ differing “visions of the postwar world”: American goals vs. Soviet goals
  • WWII’s devastation of Europe and Soviet Union, and what that meant for American foreign policy
  • Stalin’s broken promise at Yalta Conference, and Soviets’ movement into Eastern Europe
  • U.S. and Soviet suspicions of each other in 1945 and 1946; what does “security dilemma” mean?
  • How was Truman different from Roosevelt, in terms of knowledge, personality, and approach? 
  • Potsdam Conference: American concessions, and Stalin’s broken promises
  • Failure of international cooperation on atomic weapons
  • The paradox/contradiction/ambivalence in Americans’ attitudes toward foreign policy (Gillon covers this point several times throughout the chapter and emphasizes it in the last section “Debating Containment”)
  • Henry Wallace’s letter
  • The Greece and Turkey situation, and Truman’s response (speech): The Truman Doctrine and its significance
  • The Marshall Plan, motives behind it, and its effects (on Europe, and on Soviet-U.S. relations)
  • Significance of the National Security Act
  • Isolationism to internationalism: NATO
  • Truman support of creation of Israel
  • Conservative & liberal arguments against the containment policy