Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …


Posted on August 25th, by A. Robert Johnson in Foreign Policy. Comments Off on Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …

Neil Sheehan’s A Fiery Peace in a Cold War, (Random House © 2009 Neil Sheehan, ISBN: 978-0-679-42284-6) is perhaps the most careful account of the arms race between two nations. It documents the clear evidence that annihilation of all life on the planet was within reach – and avoided several times only by flukes. The book took him 14 years to write. Here he describes his version of the Cold War origins.

[Page 78] “Contrary to popular American belief, the turning point of the war in Europe was not the Allied landing in France on June 6, 1944, and the ensuing battle of Normandy. The turning point had taken place nearly a year and a half earlier and almost 2,000 miles to the east at Stalingrad on the Volga. There, between September 1942 and February 2, 1943, when the last German elements surrendered, the Red Army had stood and held on in desperate struggle amidst the ruins of the city, rallied, and then encircled and killed or captured, with the exception of 10,000 wounded flown out on Luftwaffe transports, the entire German Sixth Army of well over a quarter of a million men…

“By the end of 1943, Soviet industry had also recovered to the point where Russia was outproducing Germany in tanks, including thousands of T-34s, universally acknowledged as the best medium tank of the war, and in tracked, or self-propelled, artillery, and other heavy weaponry and aircraft. By June 6, 1944, when the Allies were finally able to open a second front across the Normandy beaches, the Red Army had pushed the Germans out of most of European Russia and was approaching the Polish frontier. Without Normandy the Soviets would have had to fight their way to Hitler’s bunker at an even higher cost in blood, but Normandy or no Normandy, the Russians were going to Berlin.

“…Whether Truman understood any of this is doubtful. Most Americans then and now see the Normandy landing as the decisive event of the war in Europe. If Truman did understand, he certainly did not act as if Soviet casualties concerned him. He viewed the Red Army as a potential threat rather than as a savior of American lives. Stalin and Molotov had hoped for a multibillion-dollar reconstruction loan from the United States after the war. The hope was quickly abandoned in the cooling atmosphere that followed the victory.

“The confrontation was also inevitable because both sides were ignorant of or misunderstood the real motivations of the other. A move by one side was invariably misinterpreted by the other. Matters were thus constantly made worse and the animosity rapidly darkened into that long night the world was to call the Cold War. Since the opening of many of the Soviet archives in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the sifting of them by young and open-minded Russian historians like Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshakov, we can discern at last how Stalin actually viewed the world and the true motivations behind his acts.

“The most important misreading of him by the Truman administration, the evidence shows, was that while he was a monster, he was not an expansionist monster in the likeness of Hitler. The people threatened by his paranoiac personality were the inhabitants of the Soviet Union and the populations of the East European lands he had placed within his baleful rule by the defeat of Germany, not normally those beyond…

“His imperial ambitions were limited. With some exceptions, they were essentially confined to consolidation Moscow’s hold over its newly gained security corridor, the occupied nations of Eastern Europe. This was understandable enough, as they had been the invasion route into Russia in two wars in the twentieth century and two of those East European nations, Romania and Hungary, had enthusiastically joined Hitler in his invasion on the promise of capacious segments of Russian territory. In Asia, he wanted to recover the imperial concessions Russia had held under the czars in Manchuria and, with the approval of Roosevelt and Churchill, had wrung them from Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government, only to have to give them up a few years later to Mao Tse-tung, the Communist victor in the Chinese civil war. He also wanted to retrieve Russian possession of the southern half of Sakhalin Island off the coast of Siberia north of Japan, which had been lost to Tokyo in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, and, again with the assent of Roosevelt and Churchill, to it on the surrender of Japan. In the Middle East, he wanted to reestablish the pre-First World War czarist dominance of northern Iran and he coveted, as the czars had, the Turkish Straits – the Dardanelles and the Bosporus. These lead from the Mediterranean into the Black Sea, control of which was obviously vital to Russia’s security. While he meant to manipulate the large Communist parties in Italy and France in order to weaken and hinder U.S. influence in those and neighboring countries, he had no intention of provoking a war with the United States by invading Western Europe.

“George Kennan, who spoke Russian and was, along with Charles ‘Chip’ Bolhlen, Roosevelt’s interpreter at Yalta, one of the two leading specialists on the Soviet Union with the State Department, cast this misreading of Stalin and the nature of his state into dogma as early as February 1946. Kennan was chargé d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in Moscow at the time. On February 9, 1946, Stalin gave his first major speech since the end of hostilities the year before. He called for a return in economic development to the prewar emphasis on heavy industry through three new and successive five-year plans. The speech caused concern within the administration in Washington, because the emphasis on heavy industry was regarded as an ominous sign of military preparations. In fact, Stalin intended no menace toward the United States in the speech. Indeed, he was careful to praise ‘the anti-Fascist coalition of the Soviet union, the United States of America, Great Britain and other freedom-loving countries’ that had won the Second World War.”





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