What if FDR was still alive during the cold war

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What if FDR was still alive during the cold war

Post by Mr Trolldemort on Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:22 pm

In our timeline, Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, almost a month before the fall of Germany and 5 months before the fall of Japan. His successor, Harry S Truman had to deal with the beginning of the Cold War against the USSR. But what if Roosevelt was still alive as president. His term was set to be from 1944 to 1948, how would the United States and the rest of the world be with Roosevelt leading a new superpower USA in peacetime and a new era of history?
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Re: What if FDR was still alive during the cold war

Post by DuceMoosolini on Wed Aug 16, 2017 4:21 pm

The war would've gone largely the same, I think. I can't imagine FDR wouldn't have dropped the bomb. And the Axis was already dead by the time he died; it just hadn't stopped twitching yet.

Cold War foreign policy would have probably gone the same, too. America had some serious, undeniable objectives following the war, including reconstructing Europe and containing Soviet communism. FDR wasn't any fonder of Stalin than Truman was.

I think you might've seen much greater changes domestically. FDR famously proposed a "Second Bill of Rights" which would have guaranteed a right to housing, healthcare, social security, fair wages, education, and freedom from monopolies. That would've become the paramount political issue of the decade, if not the century.

Of course, I'm only giving this topic fiat for the rest of his fourth term. No way in hell FDR lives for the duration of a fifth.

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Re: What if FDR was still alive during the cold war

Post by Big_Appa on Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:15 pm

FDR might have dropped the atomic bombs, but not sure.
I'd imagine he might be less hawkish than Truman but would still make similar foreign policy moves with containment and whatnot.
He would've been much farther to the left politically than Truman or Eisenhower. FDR would have still promoted containment, but it would be more of a battle of influence. He wouldn't promote toppling regimes just because they were communist, but if they showed Soviet influence they would have felt the full force of the military.
He's succeeded by a Republican, probably Eisenhower, who's more likely to follow FDR's precedent in this alternate timeline.

Just my two cents. I'm probably wrong but it's alternate history.
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Re: What if FDR was still alive during the cold war

Post by Thorfinn Karlsefni on Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:30 am

FDR was very tolerant of Communists. I've heard contemporary references to openly communist government employees during the war as Roosevelt's "pet Communists" although I can't remember where off-hand.

I do think FDR would have used the bomb. It was his project, not Truman's, and he didn't even tell Truman about it - I've heard it came as a total shock to Truman when he inherited the Presidency. FDR was not like modern Liberals, and he apparently had a vendetta against Japanese people generally.

As far as the beginning of the Cold War is concerned, I would say it would not have begun under FDR. Stalin and FDR had a wonderfully productive, often jovial working relationship during the war. It is hard to imagine such a spirit of comradeship turning sour as fast as US-Soviet relations deteriorated in our timeline.

There are key moments in the beginning of the Cold War that are often viewed post-Cold War as causes, rather than effects of it. The real cause of the Cold War was Stalin's paranoia. The NKVD (the predecessor of the KGB) ran a massive global spy operation even during the war, but Roosevelt appears to have ignored this. The atomic bomb program, among other things, was completely compromised. Richard Rhodes wrote in his book Dark Sun (c 1995) that the first Russian bomb (tested 1949) was a carbon copy of the US "Fat Man" plutonium implosion device. Stalin wanted to be sure his first test worked, and that successful design had been relayed to Moscow even as it was being built. Only a lack of fissile material prevented his building the bomb until 1949.

Stalin set the Soviet Union on a path toward Cold War very early on. Churchill correctly predicted the Iron Curtain even before the war's end. The single biggest warning sign the US had before 1948 was the systematic installation of pro-Moscow Communist regimes in all the countries the Red Army occupied at the end of World War 2. (Finland escaped because it made peace before it was too late to get a deal.)

The Truman doctrine itself was issued as a direct response to the crisis of the Greek Civil War in which the Soviet Union was believed to be underwriting the Communist insurgency. This was likely not the case, but Stalin had kept troops in Iran long after the end of the war in Europe in order to strong-arm that country and Turkey into signing favorable economic agreements with the Soviet Union.

Then came the Berlin blockade of 1948-49. Although it was successfully countered by the Berlin Airlift, it clearly indicated Stalin's intentions toward the West.

None of these things would likely have occurred under FDR. Stalin would likely have ordered the building of atomic bombs in any event, after all regimes change, better safe than sorry! But with FDR's influence, I think Stalin would not have been as bold in his manhandling of Poland after the war. Certainly there would not have been a "Truman Doctrine" issued in 1947 as there would not have been a President Truman (at least not yet).

Nevertheless, Stalin was keen on securing the future of Soviet Communism and would quietly have worked toward expanding the Communist world as much as practical no matter what. He may have been less open about it in order to maintain solid relations with an America run by FDR.

The big question is about Vietnam. From memory, FDR had promised Ho Chi Min that he could have all of Indochina if he liberated it from the Japanese. This he most certainly failed to do, but would FDR have supported the French reconquest of their colony? FDR had even pressured Churchill on Indian independence during the war. I think he would have supported Ho Chi Min against the French diplomatically, and it is possible that an agreement would have been struck preventing the Vietnam war entirely! Would this have averted the rise of Pol Pot? Would this have saved millions of lives and billions of dollars in wasted resources? Most likely, yes.

But the Communist take over of China was inevitable, and the Korean War took place after Roosevelt would have left office in 1949. I think the Cold War would have begun more slowly, yet Stalin lived long enough to push the world into two camps even if it got going later than in our timeline.
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