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The Korean War was nothing more than a civil war between Kim Il Jung and Syngman

Rhee Discuss.
Interpretation of Question:
GA: The war had been localized by the leaders of North and South as they wanted unification
more than being followers of respective ideology of Superpowers, US and USSR
ELA: Thus, the SP were more often than not drawn into the conflict by the heightened
expectations and tension stirred up be the local leaders
Explain even though the superpowers divided Korea (38th parallel) and laid the foundation of
the conflict, it was a localized war i.e. one side invaded another to unify the country but the
Superpowers subsequently got involved, therefore added the Cold War dimension.
State that the US only got involved after the North invaded the South; the Soviets did not
increase its level of involvement, they didnt want to get directly involved in a conflict with
the US so as to give it an excuse to invade USSR.
Explain that though the US justifies its actions to continue and expand its policy of containment,
it was not simply a desire to counter contain Soviet but is rather directed at communism.
Comment that is why the US eventually withdrew because the objective was achieved i.e. able
to prevent the North from invading the South.
China was drawn in for security means
GA: Even though the SP did get involved in the conflict, they were drawn in by the turns of
events rather than deliberately seeking a proxy to impose their ideologies and Cold War rivalry.
The US involvement
Topic Sentence (State US increasing involvement)
Elaboration (Explain why Korea was initially not an area of concern e.g. Achesons Speech in
1950 that excluded Korea from US line of defense; how it became an area of concern only after
North Korea invaded the South; although the war justified the continuation and expansion of
containment but it was not directed against SU, but more so communism; how the continuation of
the war involved the superpowers rather than a war that resulted because of superpower conflict.
Provide evidence to support the explanation)
The SU involvement
Topic Sentence (State SU increasing involvement)
Elaboration (Explain why Stalin was initially reluctant to get directly involve in the war and
even discouraged Kim from doing so; how SU limited its involvement by providing aid and arms,
but left the fighting to China; show how SU was drawn into the war after it started due to its own
global considerations and not because it got into a conflict with US. Provide evidence to support
the explanation)
Most of the regional conflicts were not mastermind or instigated by the superpowers.
Localized conflicts:
o Explain that the conflicts began as localized conflicts; revolutions.
Superpowers drawn in:
o Expand that their roles were indirect. In other words, they were drawn in by the opportunities
available such as nationalist wars and local
Superpowers role is damage control:

o Comment that they were unable to really control the conflict, which implies the secondary role
that they play.
Localized conflicts:
o Unification of Korea
Superpowers drawn in: Expand
Analytical statement:
Though the regional conflicts were caused by the superpowers, they played an active role in
aggravating the conflict once it broke out and very often determined its outcome.
Explain that the US was particularly active in aggravating the regional conflicts.
Expand on how the US involvement was in response to the Soviet perceived threat.
Korea (US aggravate conflict)
Initially not an area of US concern
o Local conflict but subsequently saw involvement of US; note that Korea was not an area of
initial US concern (Dean Achesons Speech in 1950 to exclude South Korea from US line of
o US heavy involvement after conflict started;
o State reasons e.g. US policy of containing communist threat and not Soviet per se.
Challenge (2nd Half)
Korean War was not just a civil war between Rhee and Kim, rather its influence expand between
the geographical locations of Asia and had an impact on superpower rivalry
Analytical statement:
The regional conflicts did at times affect Superpower Cold War rivalry.
Expand that in certain instances, it did aggravate Cold War rivalry but one must consider other
factors that contribute to this rivalry as well
Korean Conflict
Conflict aggravated Superpower rivalry:
o Regional conflict in this case certainly aggravated Superpower Cold War rivalry
o Comment on how it led to the militarization of the Cold War (See lectures on Korean War)
US building of defence pacts and military bases: ANZUS, SEATO, CENTO; sealing of
alliances: Japan and South Korea; increase aid to allies: e.g. Vietnam, Middle East
o Comment that the aggravation was in the context of the happenings in post war Europe
Regional conflicts were used by the superpowers to further their Cold War agendas. As such, the
superpowers had control over the regional conflicts the superpower supported/abandoned
their Third World clients according to their self-interests
Ultimately, candidates must decide who played the more prominent and active role in causing and
continuing the two conflicts: the superpowers or the local leaders? Through deeper evaluation,
candidates are also expected to show awareness of the fact that while the superpowers were not in
control at the start of the two conflicts (became embroiled unwittingly), they did try to
manouevre the ending of the conflicts and direct their outcome in the superpowers favour. (In the
end, US and USSR replaced Korean national agenda with their own rivalry: Korea remained

partitioned as a symbol of the ideological divide. US suppressed Castros agenda: Cuba was
sterilised of nuclear missiles in exchange for the removal of Jupiter missiles from Turkey, while
Kruschev suffered a loss in international stature for having given in to American pressure).

Qns. Ideological concern was the most important factor that shaped the development of
the Cold War. Assess the validity of this view with regard to the period 1945-1950.
1. In this essay, I have chosen to give evidences from BOTH superpowers, because I felt that it
was important to provide an extensive view of the situation. However, do take note that as long as
you are able to prove that P, I, E or S was the basis of a superpowers actions, and that developed
the Cold War, either by changing its nature, or because it caused a reaction by the other
superpower, it should be sufficient to show that the factor in the paragraph did develop the Cold
2. This essay has demonstrated a style of evidence giving and evaluation which may not be as
clean and clear-cut as those that you received earlier, where the evaluation only appeared after the
evidence has been completely described. Do take note that this particular style works for some,
and not for others. It is up to you to decide which style you want to attempt eventually but for
now, I personally think you should NOT use it in an exam without further practice.
3. When giving ELABORATION AS WELL AS EVIDENCE, NEVER only describe what
happened. Always direct my eyes and attention to a particular aspect of an incident which you
want me to see. This will make your elaborations and evidences clearer. In short, explain, until
you can explain no more. Not describe.
Important questions to ask while elaborating include: Why? Whats so important? So what? Did
I link back to the question? Did my elaboration really answer the question?
Rephrasing the question:
- Time frame:
- Players:
- Definition:
The question is asking whether ideological concern was the motivation for superpowers actions
and their implemented decisions which escalated the development of the Cold War. The parties
involved were the two major superpowers, US and USSR. The time frame of this essay is
from1945 to 1950. Cold War is defined as a state of high degree of tension hostility between the
two major superpowers, US and USSR, with no direct confrontation and an indirect war without
the use of arms.
Questioning the assumption:
- Assumption of the supporting stand
- Challenge by the challenge
- Debate
The debate of this question is whether ideological concern was the dominant factor which shaped
the superpowers actions and their implemented decisions, thus escalating the development of the
Cold War, or were there any other factors which shaped the superpowers actions and their
implemented decisions, thus escalating the development of the Cold War. The question assumes
that ideological concern was the most dominant factor which shaped the superpowers actions and
their implemented decisions, thus escalating the development of the Cold War. However, it is too
simplistic to ideological concern was the sole dominant factor which shaped the superpowers
actions that led the escalation of the development of the Cold War.
- Actions

- Criteria (If possible)

Therefore, it is essential to examine how ideological concern as well as the superpowers power
struggle and the need for security shaped the superpowers actions that led the escalation of the
development of the Cold War.
GA (S1):
The first reason why ideological concern was a very most dominant factor which shaped the
superpowers actions that led the escalation of the development of the Cold War was because the
desire to spread the ideology directed both US and USSR policy, and in so doing caused them to
perform actions that were naturally offensive to the other superpower, whether it was knowingly
done or otherwise.
Furthermore, both sides believed that they held the key to the future happiness of the human race.
By imposing on other countries to spread their ideology, their ideological differences widened
more and more into open hostility. Hence when one rival believes that the other implements
policies too zealously to spread either democracy-capitalism or communism, the other would be
unwilling to concede and would respond similarly as well. Hence, the US and USSR eventually
found the other party a hindrance to achieving their aim, and therefore wanted to remove the
other party, leading to even more signs of open hostility, developing the Cold War in the process.
Evidence and Evaluation:
Evidence for this can be seen in the chain of events after the Greece Crisis in 1947 beginning
with the decision by the Soviets not to restrain the Greece Communists from continuing their civil
war, although it was in their ability to do so. If security was the only consideration of the Soviets,
then forcing the Greeks to cease and desist would have made the most sense, since it would signal
Soviet adherence to the Percentages Agreement with Britain, which was crucial to winning
Western acceptance of Eastern Europe as the Soviet buffer zone as a reciprocal action. If power
was the main focus, then direct Soviet intervention and domination of the Greeks would have
made the most sense, since the Soviets were able to accomplish all that easily, since they
outnumber both American and British forces in Europe, and American troops numbers were still
winding down in 1947. However, the need to secure its ideological influence played a role in
causing the Soviets to vacillate between both views, since the Greek Communists were willing
supporters of the USSR, and to dominate them would convince others that the Soviets were
dictators, but to reject the Greek Communists outright would have dealt the expansion of
Communism a severe blow, since the USSR, the de facto patron state of communism would have
shown its weakness and lack of desire to spread the ideology. Whatever the intention of the
Soviets, it remains true that their action, which was motivated by ideological concerns, played a
prominent role in provoking the Americans against them and widening the rift between the
superpowers because the Americans felt provoked enough to implement the Truman Doctrine and
the Marshall Plan, which represented what was effectively an unlimited commitment by the
Americans to defeat the Soviets, raising the tensions between the superpowers still further.
Alternative Evidence and Evaluation
Evidence can be seen in the American decision to offer the Marshall Plan to Eastern Europe in the
hope of inducing them to align themselves with capitalism. Cannot be seen as a merely economic
act, because although Eastern Europe was an excellent source of natural resources, the countries
with the most industrial know-how were Germany, France, and Britain, hence it would have made
more sense to develop them first, rather than make a grab for countries which were already under

intense Soviet domination anyway. This decision by the government to support undermining the
Soviets economically is better understood if one accepts that the Americans did believe their
ideology of capitalism to be superior to communism, and were infused with a desire to prove
Communism wrong. This ideological act by the Americans offended the Soviets so badly that
they rapidly enforced their hold on Eastern Europe, beginning with the ouster of the Czech PM in
1948, and in the process, further widened the rift between both powers, and developing (by
worsening) superpower tensions, and had the effect of finalizing the bloc formation which was
taking place between the superpowers, because from this time forth, Eastern Europe was now
finally firmly dominated by the Soviets, with no hope of any independent action whatsoever, and
Western Europe is now firmly integrated with the West via the Marshall Plan.
GA (S2):
The second reason why ideological concern was a very dominant factor which shaped the
superpowers actions that led the escalation of the development of the Cold War was because it
tainted the views of both superpowers so deeply that misperceptions and mistrust of one anothers
ideology easily intensified the tensions between the two superpowers by stripping both the USA
and USSR of the ability to understand and empathize with each other.
Hence by having misperceptions and mistrust of one anothers ideology, both superpowers
became afraid and insecure of its own standing and then implemented even more policies to keep
themselves safe. Escalation of development of Cold War came when both superpowers were too
engrossed in protecting oneself and had tend to undermine the other party, putting the other party
always at disadvantage even if it meant showing hostility and intolerance against the other party,
increasing tensions drastically between both superpowers.
Evidence and Evaluation:
Evidence which supports this view is found in the way the Americans persistently chose to view
the Soviets as being rabidly expansionistic despite facts that imply the opposite. For instance, the
Americans chose to see the Soviets as being rabidly expansionistic and Communism as being
generally monolithic despite the fact that the Yugoslavs under Tito have broken from the Soviet
bloc, and was in fact receiving Marshall Plan aid. Despite that, many Americans still persisted in
believing Communism to be monolithic and Soviet-controlled soon after China turned
Communist, refusing to accept that the Chinese could actually have chosen to be Communist on
their own accord, and in the process expelling these knowledgeable people from government
service during the Red Scare and leaving the intolerant and most rabidly communist politicians
in power.
Alternative Evidence and Evaluation:
Soviet perception of the West were so tainted by their belief of an inevitable apocalyptic
showdown with the Capitalist world that they obsessively chose to maintain a strong military and
obtain a nuclear deterrent, even though such a research was prohibitively expensive. However,
the Soviets still chose to seek a nuclear deterrent, and in 1949, succeeded in exploding an atomic
device merely 4 years after the Americans, with all their economic advantages, did. American
insecurity because of this incident can be seen in the fact that NSC-68, which was signed in 1950,
recommended that the Americans continue stockpiling atomic devices, which shows that the
Americans believed the Soviets would do the same, even though they knew that the Soviets were
paying a heavy economic price to do so, which would be difficult to sustain indefinitely. These
evidences show us that ideologically-colored misperceptions played a huge role in developing the
Cold War, since it caused both parties to overreact to the actions of the other.

Conversely, there are factors which one of them might be the important factor for shaping the
development of the Cold War.
GA (C1)
The first reason why ideological concern was not the most dominant factor which shaped the
superpowers actions that led the escalation of the development of the Cold War because both
superpowers, being ambitious, were both concerned with obtaining superiority and prestige over
the other, and hoped to transform, if possible, the bipolar system they were in into a unipolar
system where the other rival (either US or USSR) was defeated.
To achieve this, they sought to use their superior power to influence others to join them. This
fierce competition developed the Cold War into a zero-sum game where the superpowers sought
every advantage, even symbolic victories to prove they were stronger and superior to their rival,
even if victory was not possible in the short term.
Evidence and Evaluation:
Evidence supporting this argument is Salami Tactics which aimed to extend Soviet hegemony
over Eastern Europe and expand Soviet control and dominate in the area; totally secure Eastern
Europe from Western influence. This shows that they were expansionistic, and implied that their
real aim was to divide and conquer process of threats and alliances to overcome opposition for
political / power gains. By trying to overcome opposition through all means, even brute force, the
Soviets showed that they earnestly desired power and were willing to use all possible methods to
achieve it. This developed the Cold War because the West now saw the Soviets as a distinct
threat, and reacted harshly, causing the Cold War to be distinctly bipolar, at least in Europe.
Firstly the Americans were now amenable to extending their influence in Europe, and the West
Europeans, especially Britain, actively sought American involvement to counter the rise of the
Soviets in Europe, given their pitiful economic condition because of the exertions of WWII, this
eventually resulted in the formation of NATO in 1949, which included the Americans and much
of Western Europe.
Alternative Evidence and Evaluation:
In the same way, the Americans, too showed that power was a major consideration in their plans,
and that they, too wanted to make sure that they were always more powerful than the Soviets. We
know this because the Americans frequently responded to provocations from the Soviets through
aggressive over-reactions. For instance, in response to Soviet aggression in Greece and Turkey,
the Americans declared their decision to support ANY COUNTRY facing the threat of aggression,
and not only did that, but went one step further, and threatened the Soviets control of Eastern
Europe by effectively attempting to bribe the Eastern European states into joining the West
through its use of Dollar Diplomacy via the Marshall Plan. Furthermore, after the Berlin
Blockade ended, the Americans retaliated by announcing their intention to form West Germany,
and strengthen it economically in the process, even though the initial agreement between the West
and USSR was that Germany should be weakened. This was also accompanied by the formation
of NATO, which potentially threatened the Soviets since it allowed them to attack the Soviets if
an excuse can be found to claim that the Soviets attacked, harmed, any single signatory of NATO,
even though the USA itself was not harmed. This potentially allowed the Americans to use their
powerful nuclear arms against the USSR as long as a casus belli could be found, however flimsy
it was, and showed how determined the USA was to challenge the Soviets in the arena of power.

The second reason that rivals, or even surpasses ideological concern as the most dominant factor
which shaped the superpowers actions, and hence, the development of the Cold War is the
irrational need for security, which made the superpowers more aggressive in their actions, while
simultaneously causing them to feel unjustifiably threatened by the other side.
Therefore, the superpowers came up with policies and actions to secure what they felt to be their
own immediate and urgent non-negotiable interests and needs, even if it meant risking the ire of
the other superpower, and making long-term conflict a definite reality, or risking a prohibitive
short term cost.
Evidence and Evaluation:
Evidence supporting this argument is the fact that the Soviets chose to purse the use of Salami
Tactics against Eastern Europe even though they were aware that it was breaking the Agreement
of Liberated Europe which they had signed at Yalta, and that the Americans, their rival, were
displeased with it, and possessed the means to devastate them in retaliation through the monopoly
of the atomic bomb. For them to have begun attempting it at the height of their prowess during
the Potsdam Conference, and not when American demobilization was well underway suggests
that the Soviets were desperate to secure their own survival at the soonest possible time, even if it
meant taking on heavy risks to secure it, since the atomic bomb can destroy cities, but a USSR
without a buffer zone would always be vulnerable to national destruction by any power coming
from the West, as the Germans so aptly demonstrated in WWII.
Alternative Evidence and Evaluation:
The desire for security by the Americans, too, can be seen in the fact that they justified their
proclamation of the Truman Doctrine on the basis that international aggression is a threat to their
national security, and backed it up with action first with the formation of NATO in response to
the Berlin Blockade, and then with the approval of the NSC-68 recommendations, such as the
stockpiling of atomic weapons, in response to Communist aggression in Korea. This shows us,
therefore, that security, too, played an important role in the decision making process of the
Americans. Furthermore, not only did it play an important decision-making role, it also played a
big role in causing the Soviets to react. For instance, the usage of the Marshall Plan, which was
envisioned concurrently with the Truman Doctrine, was countered by the formation of
COMECON, a economic assistance plan to Eastern Europe which was akin to the Marshall Plan.
Hence, security concerns can be seen as a significant factor developing the Cold War.
Summarizing the strengths of both sides:
In conclusion, this essay sought to decide whether ideological concern was the most dominant
factor which shaped the superpowers actions and their implemented decisions, thus escalating
the development of the Cold War. While the challenging side had a few strong arguments such
that other factors such as power struggle between the two superpowers and the need for security
had also escalated the Cold War, which was compelling as preserving the nations or states own
prestige and glory and protecting its own people, its own interest and its survival were crucial that
motivated the superpowers to stamp out one another. They aimed for a unipolar world. However,
the supporting side had more compelling arguments such that ideological-based economic
interests, determination and aggressiveness to spread their respective ideology and the
misperceptions and mistrust had caused the superpowers to implement policies and determine

their actions.
Explaining the trump card why one side rules the day:
This had shown the power of ideology over minds and mindsets which influenced people to the
extent of making decisions and justified their actions, be it political, power, military, security, or
economic in nature. Furthermore, although the scope of this essay is primarily from 1945 to 1950,
one must remember that the respective ideology that both superpowers adopted were inveterate
long before World Wars started, and had a far more profound influence in Cold War developments
than this essay could explore.
Hence, this essay concludes ideological concern was the most important factor which shaped the
development of the Cold War.