The Iron Curtain Speech

free essayOn March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill pronounced his famous speech at Westminster College in Fulton. This speech was one of the most powerful tools that warned opponents of communism about the attempts of the Soviet Union’s expansion, initiated the Cold War and marked the split vector in the anti-Hitler coalition.

After the World War II the global influence of the Soviet Union increased so much that the ideas of communism started to penetrate even in those countries which were against it at the beginning of the war. Soviet Russia imposed the world its ideology and led an active expansionist policy. It dominated the Eastern Europe and slowly started to destroy the remnants of democracy. The USSR managed to force socialists and the social democratic parties to merge with the communisst and thus increased the influence in these countries and made West-orientated parties lose their strength (Mosely, 194, p. 112). This fact threatened the whole democratic Europe to lose the ability for their political self-determination in the nearest future and could lead to the influence of Moscow, loss of democracy, rights and freedoms of the people who recently fought against Hitler and his tyranny.

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Churchill clearly understood that nobody could take the rights of the Soviet Union to secure its western borders. Moreover, German invasion started exactly there. However, the way the USSR did it directly threatened Europe. It increased the military forces as quickly as organized coup d’etat in neighboring countries. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities were in the Soviet control and no one knew what were the limits of the Russian expansive and proselytizing tendencies. (Ward, 1968, p.8) The political expansion could lead not only to the protection of the Soviet Union but also to the takeover or revolution in the European countries and the establishment of tyranny and totalitarianism. And tyranny together with the war was the two greatest dangers that menaced the Western World. (Ward, 1968, p.7)

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Churchill’s statements about Russians who did not respect military weakness were in no way advocating a direct military confrontation. But his words could be intended as a call for fraternal association of English-speaking peoples that under the auspices of the United Nations could restrain the Soviet threat and increase the military forces. Since the Russians admired only strength it was a good chance to show it. And on the basis of this strength he wanted to find the common ground with the Soviet Union to ensure the security of the countries where democracy flourished and the rule of law prevailed.

The British Empire that used to rank one of the first places in the world before the WWII lost its influence. The United States and the Soviet Union replaced the European world powers on the global stage. Countries of Western and Eastern Europe were ravaged by the war and were under the impact of communism. They could not resist the policy of the Soviet Union alone. The United States suffered the least from the war and they managed to earn a lot of financial and other benefits from it. In addition the USA had a monopoly on nuclear weapons. It made them the leader of the whole Western World and the best ally in the opposition against the USSR.

Fulton’s speech greatly influenced the post-war world. Churchill’s prediction of the structure and nature of international relations in general and Soviet-American relations particularly confirmed over the course of the next 40 years. Using only one speech he managed to prepare the American people and the whole West to oppose the Soviet Union and its expansion.

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