Reflections on Containment

Courtesy Reuters


No matter what Wilsonian-minded American statesmen called them, by late 1945 spheres of influence were emerging across Europe, and they were to remain in place until the collapse of communism four decades later. Under U.S. leadership, the Western occupation zones of Germany were consolidated, while the Soviet Union turned the countries of Eastern Europe into its appendages. The erstwhile Axis Powers, Italy, Japan and, after 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany, gradually moved toward alliance with the United States. The Soviet Union cemented its dominance over Eastern Europe by means of coercion. At the same time, the Kremlin tried its utmost to interrupt the process of Western consolidation by fostering a guerrilla war in Greece and by encouraging mass demonstrations by West European communist parties, especially in France and Italy.

American leaders concluded that they had to resist further Soviet expansion. But their national

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