The cases of Iran and Manchuria show us that in the first year or so of the Cold War period neither the United States or the Soviet Union emphasized differences in ideological philosophy.
Although Stalin’s actions were rooted in his Marxist-Leninist worldview, he was (as previously mentioned) focused primarily on the expansionist and balance of power considerations that were consistent with his perception of Russia’s threatened security. This included his sense of nuclear inferiority based on the American monopoly on atomic weaponry.
Truman, on the other hand, was determined to protect American interests in the Third World by encircling the USSR militarily. In doing so, he hoped to prevent Soviet infringement on neighboring territories.
By the end of 1947, however, the two powers had each taken steps to cloak their goals and objectives in a mantle of ideological rhetoric.
Using its success in Iran as a model, the United States toughened its policy toward the Soviet Union. The Truman Doctrine — announced in March 1947 — employed excessive language to ensure that Congress would allocate funds the president had requested. These monies — ostensibly for Greece and Turkey — had, instead, been informally promised to the shah of Iran.
Truman forcefully asserted:
at the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternate ways of life … I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures …
He went on to describe a crisis
dramatized as a contest between two ways of life, the Communist one spreading in ‘the evil soil of poverty and strife,’ and the democratic one ‘based upon the will of the majority … free elections … individual liberty … freedom of speech.’
In September 1947, the ideological debate intensified when a Politburo member, Andrei Zhdanov, announced that the world was now divided into two camps
the ‘imperialist and anti-democratic camp’ and the ‘anti-imperialist and democratic camp.’ The principle driving force of the imperialist camp’ was the United States, emboldened by its newfound power and ‘temporary’ atomic monopoly to ‘extort’ from Britain and France the dominant role among capitalist powers around the globe. America’s ‘predatory and expansionist’ policies led it to absorb the colonies of its allies into its own sphere of influence.
Soon after Zhdanov delivered his speech, the Soviet Union withdrew from world affairs so that it could create a deterrent power able to match Western military capability.
Meanwhile, American attitudes toward communism, shaped in large part by events in Iran and Manchuria, became even more entrenched.
So far as Americans were concerned, the image of the Soviet Union changed from that of ally “towards an image of a demonic society which was repellent to the United States.”