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Fiona
10th February 2009, 05:58 AM
This thread arises from a discussion in a chat room. It is not possible to explore an issue properly in that setting and such subjects are not appropriate there: so to those who were annoyed, I am sorry I raised it.

But it is a subject which interests me. I may be wrong but I have the impression that the perceptions of that conflict are quite different in parts of Europe and in the USA: and that this difference is quite important

Let me say at the outset that I hold no brief for the soviet union. It was a totalitarian empire with nothing to commend it for most of its history (simplistic and open to challenge, but my shorthand characterisation for this thread). I say this because I do not want anyone to get the impression that this is wider than it is: I am solely concerned with the justification for the cold war. That has been presented to me in terms of a "threat" from the soviets: and that is the part I cannot easily accept

It seems to me that part of my difficulty is, as ever, one of definition. What is meant by the word "threat"?. I suppose that it does too much work really. Are we talking about a military threat? a threat to our way of life? or what?

The most obvious assumption is that we are talking about a military threat: there was an arms race which persisted for years and which can only be justified if a military threat was in existence. I am not able to see that there was ever any likelihood of a soviet attack, and so this makes little sense to me. What was the fear?

At the end of WW2 Russia was devastated. They were not long out of a feudal system: they had faced military and economic attacks after the revolution and they had a vast country in need of serious modernisation. The leadership under Stalin were not really ideologues: Stalin was an old fashioned dictator intent on power for himself. He ruled by mass terror but I see no reason to believe that he would risk military adventure against the west where he could have no possibility of success. They had not the will nor the manpower nor the material to attack Europe nor America.

At the same time, and unlike Western powers, they had real reason to suppose that they were under threat. White armies had tried to overthrow the government quite recently: Western leaders had supported this,not least Churchill, who had supported direct intervention against the revolution during the 1920's and was a cold warrior par excellence after 1945. They were exhausted and they did not have a nuclear bomb: while the demonstration of that weapon in Japan showed that the could have no security without it, if they percieved a genuine military threat to their existence: as was more than plausible.

Truman characterised the soviet union as "evil". This seems to be justiified because of the failure to allow self determination for the baltic states and that was indeed reprehensible: though not so obviously different to the US attitude to latin america so far as I can see. There was doubt even in Churchill's mind as to whether the soviet imperial attitude to those states was inidcative of plans for world domination or the pragmatic actions of state which feared for its survival: there is at least a question there

The placing of military installations in countries around russia was always going to reinforce soviet fears: if not, why did the USA react so strongly to what appears to be an exactly similar move by the soviets in the cuban missile crisis? Again I cannot see anything unreasonable in the soviet perception of a direct western threat to its existence; where is any parallel and reasonable fear on the other side?

On the other hand it might be that the fear was to our way of life? But without military action it is difficult to see how that was supposed to happen. If it is argued that peoples around the world would adopt the soviet model voluntarily I am afraid I cannot see anything wrong with that: the "domino theory" seemed to me to be profoundly flawed because it was predicated on the premise that it was right to intervene to prevent a spread of communism even where that was the path chosen by sovereign peoples. Certainly one can argue that once adopted all democracy would be over and they could never make that choice again: that might even be true. But what business is it of the us or the uk or australia? I cannot see any justification for such a presumption.

Or it might be argued that the spread would be by military conflict within countries: well civil war has always been problematic for international law: sovereignty dictates we should not interfere in the internal affairs of other states. That idea is being challenged of course: but we should not overturn it lightly IMO.

Perhaps communism was to be spread by war between nations? Again wars start for all sorts of reasons and alliances are made and military actions undertaken: but pre-emptive action on the basis of such a fear is a little strange to me: it is certainly justifiable on the basis of a direct threat to any county's own interest but again I see no prospect of military imposition of communism on any part of the western world outside of the "sphere of influence". I do not mean to diminish the horror of what took place within those countries which came under the soviet empire: but again, what happened in latin america was not so great either. If it was not so bad does that make the principle different? if it does where is the line drawn? And what evidence is there of any intent to expand which is not paralleled by actions of the other side?

This article is from the Spectator, a publication which is largely conservative in its political stance

http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magazine/cartoons/9924/part_5/the-soviet-threat-was-bogus.thtml

I include it because it seems to me to show that the ideas outlined above are mainstream in the uk and I suspect also in europe. A lot of people do accept the soviet threat, certainly: but many do not, and this is not an uncommon discussion where I live. Maybe this is partly because scotland is generally a little more left wing than other parts of the UK:I do not know

Darat
10th February 2009, 06:32 AM
The article states that:

"In short, Russian interference in countries essential to its safety was evil. But exclusive US domination of its own sphere of influence was righteous. The Russians must have thought that this was a fine piece of humbug."

The Russians may have thought "humbug" but they were as you state wrong; the US "domination" was based on the principles (if not always the practice) of free determination and what we all broadly recognise as "western values". The USSR was based as you say on the whims of a very evil dictator who was totally and utterly ruthless and totally opposed to "Western" values. He had access to considerable resources and it was obvious by the end of WWII quite capable of using what military strength he had to impose his dictatorship wherever he could.

From those roots I can't see that the cold war was anything but a reaction to the USSR and in particular Stalin's leadership. Of course both sides later on used the other as the big-bad-bogeyman and I am sure that at times the perceived threat was used as an excuse but the fundamentals are that the USSR was an expansionist regime and an anathema to anyone who shares what we can loosely describe as "western values".

WildCat
10th February 2009, 06:44 AM
At the end of WW2 Russia was devastated. They were not long out of a feudal system: they had faced military and economic attacks after the revolution and they had a vast country in need of serious modernisation. The leadership under Stalin were not really ideologues: Stalin was an old fashioned dictator intent on power for himself. He ruled by mass terror but I see no reason to believe that he would risk military adventure against the west where he could have no possibility of success. They had not the will nor the manpower nor the material to attack Europe nor America.
Why do you say that? They had the will, materiel, and manpower to subjugate eastern Europe. What makes you think they had no further ambitions?

NoZed Avenger
10th February 2009, 12:06 PM
. . . I see no prospect of military imposition of communism on any part of the western world outside of the "sphere of influence".

A question: Doesn't this ignore how those countries got into the "sphere of influence" in the first place?

dudalb
10th February 2009, 12:28 PM
Why do you say that? They had the will, materiel, and manpower to subjugate eastern Europe. What makes you think they had no further ambitions?


Russia was indeed devastated at the end of WW2 but they had one insitutional that was very powerful: The Soviet Army (include the Sovier Air force in this).
If Russia was so damn weak, why, in 1948, were they already making moves against the West in the Berlin Crisis?
If a lot of Europe is buying into the "Moral Equivilence" argument, then Europe is in worse trouble then I thought. Have fun dealing with a resurgent Russia ,guys.

dudalb
10th February 2009, 12:29 PM
A question: Doesn't this ignore how those countries got into the "sphere of influence" in the first place?

Stalin merely "helped" the oppressed proletariat of Eastern Europe to overthrow their capitalists masters.:D

Ziggurat
10th February 2009, 01:04 PM
The most obvious assumption is that we are talking about a military threat: there was an arms race which persisted for years and which can only be justified if a military threat was in existence. I am not able to see that there was ever any likelihood of a soviet attack, and so this makes little sense to me.

An invasion of Europe was unlikely. But that assessment can only really be made given the situation as it was (including, for example, NATO military capability and posture), which included the cold war. In the absence of the cold war, can we really conclude the same thing? No, we cannot: in the absence of a serious deterrent, maybe they would have considered an attack. We do not know.

He ruled by mass terror but I see no reason to believe that he would risk military adventure against the west where he could have no possibility of success. They had not the will nor the manpower nor the material to attack Europe nor America.

The USSR most definitely had the manpower to attack Europe. Manpower was never what they were short of.

At the same time, and unlike Western powers, they had real reason to suppose that they were under threat.

They were under threat. Every dictatorship is always under existential threat by the mere existence of free nations. There was never a way to avoid this asymmetry, and so no reason to act as if not threatening them was ever an option.

Truman characterised the soviet union as "evil". This seems to be justiified because of the failure to allow self determination for the baltic states and that was indeed reprehensible: though not so obviously different to the US attitude to latin america so far as I can see.

Compare "attitudes" all you want, but US action in latin america, for all its problems, doesn't compare to the USSR's oppression of its immediate neighbors.

The placing of military installations in countries around russia was always going to reinforce soviet fears: if not, why did the USA react so strongly to what appears to be an exactly similar move by the soviets in the cuban missile crisis?

Just a military base wouldn't have been that big a deal. A nuclear missile site was. The reason was rather obvious to everyone at the time: it would mean that a nuclear attack could be launched against the US with very little time to respond, unlike ICBMS launched from the USSR. So there's not nearly so much parallel as you presume. In fact, the only real parallel was US nuclear missiles stationed in Turkey. And the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis did, in fact, include the removal of those missiles, though that part of the deal wasn't made public at the time.

On the other hand it might be that the fear was to our way of life? But without military action it is difficult to see how that was supposed to happen.

You seem to have ignored the USSR's sponsorship of communist insurgencies throughout the world. A significant number of these were successful. Had more of them been successful, the possible economic impact could have been enormous. Which in turn would have seriously constrained our own military power.

If it is argued that peoples around the world would adopt the soviet model voluntarily I am afraid I cannot see anything wrong with that

This is basically irrelevant, since people never have (and probably never will) adopt such a model in the absence of violence or its threat. Communists have never taken power without violence. Never.

well civil war has always been problematic for international law: sovereignty dictates we should not interfere in the internal affairs of other states. That idea is being challenged of course: but we should not overturn it lightly IMO.

We didn't overturn it, it was never really in operation to begin with. The USSR sponsored insurgencies: it created many of the internal conflicts we subsequently interfered with. The question of whether and how to interfere in any particular case might be tricky, but to suppose we should simply abstain when our adversaries never would is not being principled, it is being naive.

Fiona
10th February 2009, 02:31 PM
The Russians may have thought "humbug" but they were as you state wrong; the US "domination" was based on the principles (if not always the practice) of free determination and what we all broadly recognise as "western values".

I am not so sure about that, Darat. It is difficult for me to see any difference between the soviet view of their right to determine limits to the sovereignty of the states close to it, and the Roosevelt corollary to the Monroe doctrine. It is certainly my understanding that the US has directly intervened to overthrow democratically elected governments (for example in Guatamal, Chile and Nicaragua. That is not in keeping with what I broadly recognise as democratic values.

At the same time I find it incomprehensible in a way that I do not with the soviet horrors: Russia has been subjected to invasion and war several times and in addition it was, until recently, feudal in character. By contrast I can see no direct threat to United States integrity. It is certainly true that history does not justify the oppression of sovereign states: but it explains it to some extent. What parallel excuse does the US have? Humbug does seem a reasonable assessment: though I imply no particular criticsim: humbug is the usual condition for international relations so far as I can see.


The USSR was based as you say on the whims of a very evil dictator who was totally and utterly ruthless and totally opposed to "Western" values.

Certainly

He had access to considerable resources and it was obvious by the end of WWII quite capable of using what military strength he had to impose his dictatorship wherever he could.

No I do not think that can be demonstrated. He did have resources but in comparison with the needs of the country they were not particularly substantial: this seems self evident since the soviets could not finance the arms race and modernise effectively at the same time. I do not know what you mean when you say he would use military strength to impose his dictatorship wherever he could. Soviet leaders did do this within those countries they conceived as essential buffers in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, for example. Again I do not see much difference between those and the actions in south america referred to above.

From those roots I can't see that the cold war was anything but a reaction to the USSR and in particular Stalin's leadership.

It was predicated on an assumption of a will to world domination which I do not see as evidenced. Stalin and his successors were certainly dictators, who wished to preserve their own power; but also to ensure the security of the state so as to enjoy it. What country is any different?


Of course both sides later on used the other as the big-bad-bogeyman and I am sure that at times the perceived threat was used as an excuse but the fundamentals are that the USSR was an expansionist regime and an anathema to anyone who shares what we can loosely describe as "western values".

We will agree to differ for now, though you may be right

Fiona
10th February 2009, 02:35 PM
Why do you say that? They had the will, materiel, and manpower to subjugate eastern Europe. What makes you think they had no further ambitions?

What makes you think they did, any more than any other powerful state? The relationship with eastern europe is one of empire so far as I can tell and it goes back centuries: that is never pretty. But the old russia did not establish an empire beyond that (extremely large) region, during the period when the british and the french and the portuguese et al did. They were not in a position to do so perhaps: but what is there to show they wanted to after Peter the Great? That is a genuine question for I do not know

Fiona
10th February 2009, 02:36 PM
A question: Doesn't this ignore how those countries got into the "sphere of influence" in the first place?


No more than how the south american countries got into the US sphere of influence, I think. They got there because a big neighbour was twitchy

rwguinn
10th February 2009, 02:37 PM
What makes you think they did, any more than any other powerful state? The relationship with eastern europe is one of empire so far as I can tell and it goes back centuries: that is never pretty. But the old russia did not establish an empire beyond that (extremely large) region, during the period when the british and the french and the portuguese et al did. They were not in a position to do so perhaps: but what is there to show they wanted to after Peter the Great? That is a genuine question for I do not know
um...
The fact that they actually did make a start on it? (See Berlin Airlift, Estonia, Latvia, Norway....)

Skeptic
10th February 2009, 02:40 PM
Nothing is necessary except for logical implication. The cold war wasn't necessary if one was willing to let the USSR take over Europe and most of the rest of the world. If one wanted to stop that, however, yes, the cold war was necessary.

Fiona
10th February 2009, 02:45 PM
If Russia was so damn weak, why, in 1948, were they already making moves against the West in the Berlin Crisis?


I think it was partly because they were so damn weak and so afraid of a strong germany - for rather obvious reasons.

Why do you think it was?

dudalb
10th February 2009, 02:47 PM
I think it was partly because they were so damn weak and so afraid of a strong germany - for rather obvious reasons.

Why do you think it was?


Stalin was seeing just how far he could push the West.
And you know you are coming off like a apologist for the Soviet union?
And they were NOT Militarily weak. Weak economy, yes, but to portray the Soviet Union as being "weak" is just plain silly.
You are buying into this nonsense being peddled by the Neo Marxists, who have a ideological reason for whitewashing the Soviet Union.

gumboot
10th February 2009, 02:52 PM
Er... someone seems to be missing the elephant in the room here. What came immediately before the Cold War? World War Two? And what was so special about it? A single maniacal dictator used an appealing ideology to wage horrific war on the entire globe. Looking back, in hindsight, I think often we forget just how close we came to defeat in WW2.

Now, after WW2, you have the USSR; a nation slavishly following the will of a single maniacal dictator, who was using an appealing ideology in an attempt to seize control of large territories.

Call me crazy, but I just can't help but think the allies saw the USSR as a new Nazi Germany. And given how the USSR treated the countries they invaded, yes that's a far comparison.

Let's not forget that. The USA invaded western Europe, liberated it, and then released it to itself. The USSR invaded Eastern Europe and built a wall around it to keep everyone in.

Do you really need to look any deeper than that to see if the Cold War was justified? I am willing to bet that in the 1950s and 1960s the allies were willing to do nearly anything to avoid a repeat of WW2. I can't say I blame them.

What the allies learned is that you cannot contain an ideology with appeasement and treaties. It will swallow the whole world if you let it. Instead you must meet it with an iron will, and refuse to allow it to spread.

Sadly, it's a lesson we appear to have forgotten, at our peril.

rwguinn
10th February 2009, 02:55 PM
...
Let's not forget that. The USA invaded western Europe, liberated it, and then released it to itself. The USSR invaded Eastern Europe and built a wall around it to keep everyone in.

But we're EEVIL!

Do you really need to look any deeper than that to see if the Cold War was justified? I am willing to bet that in the 1950s and 1960s the allies were willing to do nearly anything to avoid a repeat of WW2. I can't say I blame them.

What the allies learned is that you cannot contain an ideology with appeasement and treaties. It will swallow the whole world if you let it. Instead you must meet it with an iron will, and refuse to allow it to spread.

Sadly, it's a lesson we appear to have forgotten, at our peril.
Only some people have. Unfortunately, they seem to be in control ovver on this side...

Ziggurat
10th February 2009, 03:16 PM
It was predicated on an assumption of a will to world domination which I do not see as evidenced.

Um... yeah. You might want to read up on what the communists were actually saying. Their desire for world domination was one of their most blatant features. Sure, it was always masked in talk of the proletariat, but it was always, always expansionist and universalist in ideology. And you can talk about buffers all you want to in regards to eastern Europe, but that's got nothing to do with their push to turn east Asia communist. There was no threat from that side.

NoZed Avenger
10th February 2009, 03:29 PM
No more than how the south american countries got into the US sphere of influence, I think. They got there because a big neighbour was twitchy

I don't recall the tanks rolling into Canada and Mexico after WWII, but okay. If you want to create moral equivalencies that badly, who am I to stand in the way?

Fiona
10th February 2009, 03:59 PM
An invasion of Europe was unlikely. But that assessment can only really be made given the situation as it was (including, for example, NATO military capability and posture), which included the cold war. In the absence of the cold war, can we really conclude the same thing? No, we cannot: in the absence of a serious deterrent, maybe they would have considered an attack. We do not know.

Agreed. It is certainly not self-evident that the cold war was necessary. Given the enormous implications of it that is regrettable

The USSR most definitely had the manpower to attack Europe. Manpower was never what they were short of.

It is estimated that 13% of the population died during ww2, and that the population in 1939 was about 168,500,000. That is not an insignificant loss and military deaths accounted for 10,700,000 of the total of about 23 million. In the 1991 census there were 293,000,000 population and the labour force was 152,300,000 - about 51%. I imagine the labour force requirement as a proportion of total population was very different in 1939, but I cannot find the figures. However you look at it they lost a lot of people and their economy was shattered. I am not sure it looks as if they had a lot of spare manpower and I am pretty certain they would have been sick of war


They were under threat. Every dictatorship is always under existential threat by the mere existence of free nations. There was never a way to avoid this asymmetry, and so no reason to act as if not threatening them was ever an option.

That is a bit philosophical for my taste, and it depends on a series of assumptions which I think are beyond my scope

. The USA also believes it is under threat from what I can gather, and did so at the time, if the justification for the cold war is to be accepted. But the USA is not a dictatorship. How do you account for that? Is it your proposition that the USA believes it is under threat because that is true: but dictatorships believe they are under threat for imaginary or radically different reasons? I do not follow this reasoning

Compare "attitudes" all you want, but US action in latin america, for all its problems, doesn't compare to the USSR's oppression of its immediate neighbors.

I think we will have to differ here :)

Just a military base wouldn't have been that big a deal. A nuclear missile site was. The reason was rather obvious to everyone at the time: it would mean that a nuclear attack could be launched against the US with very little time to respond, unlike ICBMS launched from the USSR. So there's not nearly so much parallel as you presume. In fact, the only real parallel was US nuclear missiles stationed in Turkey. And the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis did, in fact, include the removal of those missiles, though that part of the deal wasn't made public at the time.

That seems to me to be an exact parallel. But I do not think it is all, is it? we seem to have quite a few american nuclear weapons just down the road from me. Perhaps they cannot reach russia? if not what are they there for? I genuinely do not know so I will be glad if you can explain why they do not count

You seem to have ignored the USSR's sponsorship of communist insurgencies throughout the world. A significant number of these were successful. Had more of them been successful, the possible economic impact could have been enormous. Which in turn would have seriously constrained our own military power.

I did not mention their sponsorship of insurgencies in my OP. I did not mention the US sponsorship of insurgencies either. Both do this and both are sometimes successful. I do not support it in either case.


This is basically irrelevant, since people never have (and probably never will) adopt such a model in the absence of violence or its threat. Communists have never taken power without violence. Never.

Allende in Chile? Admittedly he stood on a socialist platform with a left wing coalition in support. But he was openly marxist and he did win the election

Sandanistas in Nicaragua?

United Socialist Party of Venezuala?

It is certainly true that there has often been violence attending revolution, and that is what you would expect if you subscribe to a marxist analysis. Power is not given away, normally. Should a people choose a communist model in a democratic country the evidence so far seems to show that choice will be resisted with violence, too. Whether it will or should happen is irrelevant, as you say.

But I think my point is made by your earlier statement, because you said "Had more of them been successful, the possible economic impact could have been enormous. Which in turn would have seriously constrained our own military power." To me this seems to imply that resisting the choice of a people to elect a communist regime would be legitimate on the grounds of our own security and prosperity. If I am misrepresenting you and that is not what you intend then I am sorry but that is how I read it.

We didn't overturn it, it was never really in operation to begin with. The USSR sponsored insurgencies: it created many of the internal conflicts we subsequently interfered with. The question of whether and how to interfere in any particular case might be tricky, but to suppose we should simply abstain when our adversaries never would is not being principled, it is being naive.

And the USA sponsored dictatorships. You are, of course correct: the big powers always interfere in the affairs of other countries in their own interest. Doesn't matter what international law says. But I don't think it works out well and I think, like the rules applying to what can and can't be done in war, that we should uphold those principles and we should take seriously any breach. I do not want a free for all if there must be war and I do not want "might is right" in that arena or in the field of international relations.

It is arguable that it cannot be prevented: neither can theft. That doesn't make it right to steal

Region Rat
10th February 2009, 04:14 PM
This is a very strange thread. The idea that there is some type of equivalency between the USSR's actions and the USA's actions is really turning history on its head.

The mere fact that the USSR built walls to keep their population inside, and shot people who tried to leave, is enough evidence for me.

For all our (USA) supposed oppression of Latin America, you don't see a mass migration away from the 'mother country', do you? In fact, its quite the opposite. Why do you think that is?

Ziggurat
10th February 2009, 04:25 PM
The USA also believes it is under threat from what I can gather, and did so at the time, if the justification for the cold war is to be accepted. But the USA is not a dictatorship. How do you account for that?

The USSR was fomenting unrest in democracies across the world. Communists had stolen the secrets of the atomic bomb from us, and had walled off eastern Europe from the rest of the world. Are you really not sure why we might have considered them a threat?

Is it your proposition that the USA believes it is under threat because that is true: but dictatorships believe they are under threat for imaginary or radically different reasons? I do not follow this reasoning

Evidently not. The inherent threat that democracies pose to dictatorships is not imaginary at all, it is very real. And precisely because it is real, the converse is true too: dictatorships are necessarily hostile to democracies, because they must be in order to survive as dictatorships.

That seems to me to be an exact parallel. But I do not think it is all, is it? we seem to have quite a few american nuclear weapons just down the road from me. Perhaps they cannot reach russia? if not what are they there for? I genuinely do not know so I will be glad if you can explain why they do not count

I do not know where you live. But the point is not, and never was, that nuclear missiles could reach the US or the USSR. Missiles from the continental US can reach the USSR, and the converse as well. But they have to travel quite some distance, which means that there's a lot of warning time. Warning time matters, because it means that there is time to get your bombers in the air and launch your own missiles in retaliation. Which significantly decreases the value of a first-strike attack. Cut down that warning time significantly, and you up the value of a first-strike attack. We had damned good reason to be worried about that. The USSR had reason to be worried about that in regards to Turkey too, and as already stated, we pulled our missiles out of Turkey after the Cuban missile crisis.

Allende in Chile? Admittedly he stood on a socialist platform with a left wing coalition in support. But he was openly marxist and he did win the election

I didn't say they didn't win elections, I said they never came to power without using violence. Winning elections doesn't mean you didn't use violence. Violence can be a very effective weapon in shaping elections.

And the USA sponsored dictatorships. You are, of course correct: the big powers always interfere in the affairs of other countries in their own interest. Doesn't matter what international law says. But I don't think it works out well

The point isn't whether or not it works out well, it's whether it works out better or worse than the alternatives. Letting the USSR sponsor insurgencies unopposed wouldn't have worked out well at all. I do not say this to suggest that we always took the best possible course of action, but to point out that actions have to be evaluated in light of alternatives, and the alternatives were frequently grim.

I do not want a free for all if there must be war and I do not want "might is right"

Whether or not you want that, that's the way the world operates. And always will operate as long as there are dictatorships, because dictatorships will never recognize any other right. Yes, I'd like it if we could talk nicely to dictatorships and convince them to behave by showing them the wisdom of peace. Doesn't work, though. As Churchill said, "I hope I shall never see the day when the Force of Right is deprived of the Right of Force."

jj
10th February 2009, 04:31 PM
It was not NECESSARY, but one has to ask what the outcome would have been if it hadn't happened.

geni
10th February 2009, 04:40 PM
No. A few well placed nukes in 1946 would have settled the issue.

WildCat
10th February 2009, 04:56 PM
Er... someone seems to be missing the elephant in the room here. What came immediately before the Cold War? World War Two? And what was so special about it? A single maniacal dictator used an appealing ideology to wage horrific war on the entire globe. Looking back, in hindsight, I think often we forget just how close we came to defeat in WW2.
That reminds me, it wasn't a "single maniacal dictator" who started WWII in Europe. It was a pair of maniacal dictators - Hitler and his one-time ally Stalin who simultaneously invaded Poland in September 1939. The USSR then went on to invade Finland.

The USSR was an aggressor during WWII, and after.

Corsair 115
10th February 2009, 05:36 PM
Looking back, in hindsight, I think often we forget just how close we came to defeat in WW2.


Not sure I accept that proposition. Given the industrial capacities of both the United States and Russia, the defeat of the Axis powers in the longer term seems inevitable.


The USA invaded western Europe, liberated it...


Uh, not by itself it didn't. It had some help from its other western allies. It is worth noting their efforts as well

moon1969
10th February 2009, 05:51 PM
No of course not. Why would defeating communism be important to the jews? You know to people like Karl Marx or Leon Trotsky. :D

moon1969
10th February 2009, 05:54 PM
Not sure I accept that proposition. Given the industrial capacities of both the United States and Russia, the defeat of the Axis powers in the longer term seems inevitable.





Uh, not by itself it didn't. It had some help from its other western allies. It is worth noting their efforts as well



Seems inevitable? Don"t make me laugh. Stalin started the Winter War and look how bad Stalin was defeated. If Hitler would have attacked USA and UK in 1939 than Hitler would have won and the German invasion of Poland on 1939 proves that. So Hitler did allmost win. Hitler made the mistake giving Stalin too much time.

WildCat
10th February 2009, 05:58 PM
Not sure I accept that proposition. Given the industrial capacities of both the United States and Russia, the defeat of the Axis powers in the longer term seems inevitable.
Britain was dangerously close to losing before the US even entered the war. Had the summer of 1940 been a little bit different (for example, if Germany had kept targeting the British military instead of vengefully targeting cities, and not foolishly decided to invade the USSR) Operation Sea Lion may have occurred and been successful.

At that point, only British overseas territories would have been left and they were under attack by Japan.

Yes, they did come dangerously close to losing.

moon1969
10th February 2009, 05:59 PM
That reminds me, it wasn't a "single maniacal dictator" who started WWII in Europe. It was a pair of maniacal dictators - Hitler and his one-time ally Stalin who simultaneously invaded Poland in September 1939. The USSR then went on to invade Finland.

The USSR was an aggressor during WWII, and after.



So why didn"t FDR do anything to help Finland during the Winter War? Stalin attacked a small nation. The brother of my grandfather died in the Winter War. My great grandmother was evacuated from Karelia. Yeah the russians caused alot of pain to Finland during the Winter War and yet when WW2 ended Finland had to pay 300 million dollars to Russia. Maybe nothing would have happend if Russia would have not started the Winter War? Well yes dictator Stalin was very evil.

moon1969
10th February 2009, 06:01 PM
I live at the border between Russia and Finland. Because of the Winter War pretty scared that russians will try something like that again. Last time they faked the Shelling of Mainila and after that started the Winter War. But maybe I am just paranoid. Maybe Russia does not want the new Winter War but since after russians did the Shelling of Mainila it is kind of hard to trust them. :D

moon1969
10th February 2009, 06:03 PM
That reminds me, it wasn't a "single maniacal dictator" who started WWII in Europe. It was a pair of maniacal dictators - Hitler and his one-time ally Stalin who simultaneously invaded Poland in September 1939. The USSR then went on to invade Finland.

The USSR was an aggressor during WWII, and after.



But if something like the Winter War happend again would America help Finland even if Finland is not a member of NATO? And after what russians did to Chechnya. Scary stuff.

moon1969
10th February 2009, 06:06 PM
That reminds me, it wasn't a "single maniacal dictator" who started WWII in Europe. It was a pair of maniacal dictators - Hitler and his one-time ally Stalin who simultaneously invaded Poland in September 1939. The USSR then went on to invade Finland.

The USSR was an aggressor during WWII, and after.


How would the jews help the finns if something like the Winter War happend again? Just look at what russians did to Chechnya. Finland wants no trouble with Russia and just wants to live in peace. But some how I think that many russians are racist against finns and estonians.

twinstead
10th February 2009, 06:14 PM
moon1969, asking multiple vaguely related questions instead of simply acknowledging WildCat's point that Hitler and Stalin did indeed sign a non-aggression pact and the Soviet Union was indeed an aggressor in the beginning of the war is duly noted by the lurkers.

Carry on

dudalb
10th February 2009, 06:26 PM
That reminds me, it wasn't a "single maniacal dictator" who started WWII in Europe. It was a pair of maniacal dictators - Hitler and his one-time ally Stalin who simultaneously invaded Poland in September 1939. The USSR then went on to invade Finland.

The USSR was an aggressor during WWII, and after.


I agree 100%, Wildcat, but it has reached the point where I don't like to mention the words "Finland" "Aggresion", and "Soviet Union" in the same sentence because a tirade of Anti Semetic nonsense from a certain poster is sure to follow.

dudalb
10th February 2009, 06:30 PM
How would the jews help the finns if something like the Winter War happend again? Just look at what russians did to Chechnya. Finland wants no trouble with Russia and just wants to live in peace. But some how I think that many russians are racist against finns and estonians.

And certain Finns seem to be racist against Jews....

dudalb
10th February 2009, 06:32 PM
So why didn"t FDR do anything to help Finland during the Winter War? Stalin attacked a small nation. The brother of my grandfather died in the Winter War. My great grandmother was evacuated from Karelia. Yeah the russians caused alot of pain to Finland during the Winter War and yet when WW2 ended Finland had to pay 300 million dollars to Russia. Maybe nothing would have happend if Russia would have not started the Winter War? Well yes dictator Stalin was very evil.



:deadhorse

moon1969
10th February 2009, 06:35 PM
That reminds me, it wasn't a "single maniacal dictator" who started WWII in Europe. It was a pair of maniacal dictators - Hitler and his one-time ally Stalin who simultaneously invaded Poland in September 1939. The USSR then went on to invade Finland.

The USSR was an aggressor during WWII, and after.

I must say I am sorry what I said about FDR. FDR never declared a war against Finland. Winston Churchill did declare a war against Finland. So looks like after all FDR did alot to help Finland. :D

Corsair 115
10th February 2009, 10:02 PM
Britain was dangerously close to losing before the US even entered the war. Had the summer of 1940 been a little bit different (for example, if Germany had kept targeting the British military instead of vengefully targeting cities, and not foolishly decided to invade the USSR) Operation Sea Lion may have occurred and been successful.


Britain was never that close to losing the Battle of Britain. From most of the material I have read, the idea that Fighter Command was on the verge of collapse and was saved only by the German switch to city attacks is more myth than fact. They were hard-pressed at times, certainly, but on the brink of defeat the RAF was not.

They were outproducing the Germans in fighters throughout the battle, and while pilot losses were a concern at some points they were not insurmountable. As it was, some of the reason for pilot shortages was due to administrative issues rather than combat losses; they were also slow to react to such administrative problems which naturally didn't help. There were also fighters and pilots sitting out the battle in 13 Group which could have been brought in. Had attacks on the southern airfields proven too disruptive, the RAF could have pulled its fighters back to 12 Group's area, out of range of escorted bomber attack. This would have impacted its ability to intercept incoming German raids, but it would still have been able to respond while keeping its forces safe.

Some analysis I've read suggests the only real chance the Luftwaffe had to win the battle would have been to knock out the Chain Home radar network. That would have deprived Fighter Command of the invaluable early detection of incoming raids and ability to precisely vector in fighter forces for successful interceptions. But the radar stations were extremely difficult targets to put out of action for any length of time, so the chances of a conclusive campaign against them were remote.

But even had the Luftwaffe won the battle, the chances of Sea Lion succeeding were slim at best. The German army had little experience in conducting seaborne invasions, nor the proper equipment to do so. It lacked suitable landing craft, and most of the invasion fleet would have consisted of river barges which would have to have been towed across the Channel by tugboats at a speed little better than three knots. Just a handful of Royal Navy destroyers getting in amongst such a troop and horse/vehicle transport fleet would have easily decimated it. Germany would have needed not just air superiority, but air supremacy in order to eliminate the threat from agile, fast-moving destroyers. And even then, the prospect of invasion likely would have seen the Royal Navy committed to the action regardless of the potential losses.

The threat of successfully blockading Britain via U-boats was more serious, but even then, the German navy had, at the start of the war, only about one-third the number of submarines it was estimated would be needed to completely cut off Britain's maritime trade.

So, going back to what I said initially, as long as the United States and Russia are in the war, their combined industrial capacity means victory for the Allies in the long run. The war was a battle of attrition, and that favoured the Allies.

Texas
10th February 2009, 10:39 PM
Was the cold war avoidable? I don't get the premise of this OP. We could have done what Patton wanted and immediately attack the Soviets since it was crystal clear that the US and the USSR would emerge as the 2 super powers and we had the nuclear advantage. However, that was not an option given the carnage of WW2. Once the Soviets got their own nukes there was no way that the Cold War would not become a reality. Just be glad that it was a Cold War and not a hot WW3.

ImaginalDisc
10th February 2009, 10:45 PM
I live at the border between Russia and Finland. Because of the Winter War pretty scared that russians will try something like that again. Last time they faked the Shelling of Mainila and after that started the Winter War. But maybe I am just paranoid. Maybe Russia does not want the new Winter War but since after russians did the Shelling of Mainila it is kind of hard to trust them. :D

Perhaps they fear another Simo Häyhä.

Jeez, that man was terrifying.

Travis
10th February 2009, 11:49 PM
There's a difference between something being avoidable and being necessary. As always the degree of "necessity" comes down to tolerance. That is, how much can you tolerate to avoid the Cold War? Can you tolerate the full implementation of The Morgenthau Plan? Could you tolerate the Red Army moving west into Europe? Could you tolerate an Islamo-Soviet alliance that eradicates Israel? Could you tolerate Latin America converting itself into a Communist super-bloc? Could you tolerate the rise of a Communist Insurgency in your own country? Could you tolerate an invasion by Communist forces to aide the insurgency? Could you then tolerate the Communist state you would grow up and die in?

If you could tolerate, or even welcome, all of that then for sure, to you at least, the Cold War absolutely wasn't necessary.

Of course what I've just posited was a scenario where the USA just refuses to engage in the Cold War. The flip side would be to avoid the Cold War by preempting it with an immediate hot war. There again it comes down to acceptable "tolerance."

Could you tolerate the immediate repositioning of Western Forces for an invasion of USSR held territories? Could you tolerate massive bombing raids on Moscow and other major Soviet cities? Could you tolerate the immediate crash production of nuclear weapons by the US to be used as soon as possible against major strategic, and later tactical, Soviet targets? Could you tolerate the enormous bloodshed, another 5+ years of war, countless atomic bombings and an eventual US occupation of the Motherland?

If you could tolerate all that then, again, the Cold War wasn't necessary.

So, then, just where is your level of tolerance?

Texas
11th February 2009, 12:08 AM
There's a difference between something being avoidable and being necessary. As always the degree of "necessity" comes down to tolerance. That is, how much can you tolerate to avoid the Cold War? Can you tolerate the full implementation of The Morgenthau Plan? Could you tolerate the Red Army moving west into Europe? Could you tolerate an Islamo-Soviet alliance that eradicates Israel? Could you tolerate Latin America converting itself into a Communist super-bloc? Could you tolerate the rise of a Communist Insurgency in your own country? Could you tolerate an invasion by Communist forces to aide the insurgency? Could you then tolerate the Communist state you would grow up and die in?

If you could tolerate, or even welcome, all of that then for sure, to you at least, the Cold War absolutely wasn't necessary.

Of course what I've just posited was a scenario where the USA just refuses to engage in the Cold War. The flip side would be to avoid the Cold War by preempting it with an immediate hot war. There again it comes down to acceptable "tolerance."

Could you tolerate the immediate repositioning of Western Forces for an invasion of USSR held territories? Could you tolerate massive bombing raids on Moscow and other major Soviet cities? Could you tolerate the immediate crash production of nuclear weapons by the US to be used as soon as possible against major strategic, and later tactical, Soviet targets? Could you tolerate the enormous bloodshed, another 5+ years of war, countless atomic bombings and an eventual US occupation of the Motherland?

If you could tolerate all that then, again, the Cold War wasn't necessary.

So, then, just where is your level of tolerance?

Better Red than dead.;)

gumboot
11th February 2009, 12:17 AM
Not sure I accept that proposition. Given the industrial capacities of both the United States and Russia, the defeat of the Axis powers in the longer term seems inevitable.

I've argued that the single most crucial factor in allied victory was US industrial power, however it was never a given that the USA would enter the war, and it was never a given that once they entered, they would shift to a total war attitude.


Uh, not by itself it didn't. It had some help from its other western allies. It is worth noting their efforts as well

I'm quite aware of that, given I come from one of those allied nations. This thread is making a comparison between the USA and USSR, hence the focus on US efforts in WW2.

Fiona
11th February 2009, 11:24 AM
Stalin was seeing just how far he could push the West.

Perhaps. But it was the west which decided to change the agreed policy, not the USSR. Stalin acted in response to that change. Again, I am not saying the change was not necessary from a pragmatic point of view: or perhaps from a western one. That is very difficult to sort out. But keeping germany economically weak was the aim at first and when the consequences of that were found to be not in the european/american interest they altered it without agreement. So I am not sure you can say that Stalin's initiated the problem.

And you know you are coming off like a apologist for the Soviet union?

If that is how you see it then I am sorry to have to tell you that I do not particularly care. I am asking questions on the basis of the little I understand and I do not think that is ever illegitimate. If you do not like such questions, that is, of course, your choice. I reserve the right to ask them. If in the end I conclude that the soviets had a good case then that is what I will conclude. I do not expect that outcome, because I assume the case for the cold war can be made and sustained: but if it cannot then I would be a fool to accept the narrative.

And they were NOT Militarily weak. Weak economy, yes, but to portray the Soviet Union as being "weak" is just plain silly.

Is it? Somebody once said " an army marches on its stomach". If a country is economically weak it will not have the resource to equip and supply an army. That seems fairly obvious to me. So a weak economy does seem relevant to the military capability of any nation. Why do you not think so?

You are buying into this nonsense being peddled by the Neo Marxists, who have a ideological reason for whitewashing the Soviet Union.

Perhaps. I do not particularly think I am buying in to any ideology, and the link in my first post is to the Spectator. The article is written by a journalist who normally works for the Daily Mail. These are both right wing publications: so if you think they are Marxists of any stripe you are just plain wrong.

I think it is you who have bought in to an ideology because you do not seem to want to consider any facts in this thread so far: the narrative of that ideology may be correct: I do not know. But it is not self evident to me because I am not an ideologue and I am interested in looking at what we can know of the facts underlying the stories

dudalb
11th February 2009, 11:33 AM
Is it? Somebody once said " an army marches on its stomach". If a country is economically weak it will not have the resource to equip and supply an army. That seems fairly obvious to me. So a weak economy does seem relevant to the military capability of any nation. Why do you not think so?

Russia put almost all of it's economic muscle into it's Military,at the expense of the living standard of the majority of the Russian people. This was not just during World War 2, but through out Soviet history. In the end, it was one of the things that killed the Soviet Union. But it could have done, if not opposed, a lot of damage in the mean time.

I just cannot accept you thesis that the Soviet Union posed no real threat to the West.
I have my suspicions why you like this thesis, but that is neither here nor there.

Fiona
11th February 2009, 11:42 AM
Er... someone seems to be missing the elephant in the room here. What came immediately before the Cold War? World War Two? And what was so special about it? A single maniacal dictator used an appealing ideology to wage horrific war on the entire globe. Looking back, in hindsight, I think often we forget just how close we came to defeat in WW2.

Now, after WW2, you have the USSR; a nation slavishly following the will of a single maniacal dictator, who was using an appealing ideology in an attempt to seize control of large territories.

Call me crazy, but I just can't help but think the allies saw the USSR as a new Nazi Germany. And given how the USSR treated the countries they invaded, yes that's a far comparison.

Yes. That point is made in the article I linked and it is very important. However that fear was not necessarily realistic. The lessons learned through the failure of appeasement were obviously going to inform the views of those faced with decisions about policy after the war: that does not demonstrate that the situations were in fact similar. Nor did everyone think that they were.

It is also true that what we pay attention to makes a difference: we seldom manage to see a whole picture and the military are famously said to be " very prepared for the last war" (quote my not be accurate - from memory but I think you know what I mean). That does not always happen and it does not only happen to the military: it is a way of thinking which has often done more harm than good.

Let's not forget that. The USA invaded western Europe, liberated it, and then released it to itself. The USSR invaded Eastern Europe and built a wall around it to keep everyone in.

Yes: spheres of influence were accepted however: and had been for a very long time. Many of the habits of thought were imperialist and the idea that big countries could carve up the world for their own convenience was (and is) quite strong. The USA was not a neighbour of western europe but russia was: the buffer was, as I have said, rational. The Monroe doctrine and subsequent revision to it were not that different so far as I can see. I am not defending either because I do not think that is a reasonable way to conduct our affairs: but again it seems to me that it was at least a more explicable stance from russia than it was from the US. That does not make it right.

Do you really need to look any deeper than that to see if the Cold War was justified? I am willing to bet that in the 1950s and 1960s the allies were willing to do nearly anything to avoid a repeat of WW2. I can't say I blame them.

What the allies learned is that you cannot contain an ideology with appeasement and treaties. It will swallow the whole world if you let it. Instead you must meet it with an iron will, and refuse to allow it to spread.

Sadly, it's a lesson we appear to have forgotten, at our peril.

Yes, I do need to look deeper. Your argument is based on the idea that communism is an ideology and western values are not: that is not obvious to me, Western values means different things certainly; and europe and america do have quite noticeably different values: but then there is also a spread of values within the socialist/communist paradigm.

I agree they would do anything to prevent another war except accept any challenge to their own ideology.

There is an interesting discussion of the issues here:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=pIIeG_yn72wC&oi=fnd&pg=PR19&dq=was+the+cold+war+necessary&ots=-NbrwQHCMm&sig=6G-J-ZlhUcrfg6IJfyBMxOq8B6g#PPA12,M1

Fiona
11th February 2009, 11:50 AM
Um... yeah. You might want to read up on what the communists were actually saying. Their desire for world domination was one of their most blatant features. Sure, it was always masked in talk of the proletariat, but it was always, always expansionist and universalist in ideology. And you can talk about buffers all you want to in regards to eastern Europe, but that's got nothing to do with their push to turn east Asia communist. There was no threat from that side.

Not really. Trotsky certainly did not believe in "socialism in one country" but he was not exactly influential in the period we are discussing.

Nor do I see any logic in conflating the situation in east asia with the need for a buffer "sphere of influence". Both the west and the communist bloc believed that their way of doing things was correct and they both interfered in asia with a view to world domination, if that is how you choose to characterise it. The west had done this throughout the age of empire: if a dictatorial empire joined in that is only what one would expect is it not? or do you see a substantive difference? If so what was it ?

Fiona
11th February 2009, 11:55 AM
I don't recall the tanks rolling into Canada and Mexico after WWII, but okay. If you want to create moral equivalencies that badly, who am I to stand in the way?

No they did not invade Canada: though if Canada had decided to become communist......? I have little doubt they would have taken military action to prevent it because that is what they did in south america. Would it have involved tanks? not if the US could achieve its purpose with a smaller force but I think that in the case of Canada, at least, that would have been difficult

As to moral equivalence: that phrase always makes me smile. If I do something wrong and you do something wrong then yes: we are morally equivalent. I do not see how you can argue with that.

If what you really mean is that we have done more or less harm in achieving our ends then that is a different question

If, as some argue here, there is no right or wrong but only realpolitik then that is a different question again

Fiona
11th February 2009, 11:59 AM
This is a very strange thread. The idea that there is some type of equivalency between the USSR's actions and the USA's actions is really turning history on its head.

See above

The mere fact that the USSR built walls to keep their population inside, and shot people who tried to leave, is enough evidence for me.

For all our (USA) supposed oppression of Latin America, you don't see a mass migration away from the 'mother country', do you? In fact, its quite the opposite. Why do you think that is?

I am not quite sure what you are asking me here, sorry.

If you mean why is there not mass migration away from the US I would say that it is largely based on economics. I say that because since the collapse of the soviet bloc and the introduction of capitalism in many of those countries there has been a mass exodus of people to work in western europe. They do it for money.

Fiona
11th February 2009, 12:48 PM
The USSR was fomenting unrest in democracies across the world. Communists had stolen the secrets of the atomic bomb from us, and had walled off eastern Europe from the rest of the world. Are you really not sure why we might have considered them a threat?

Well if you look at the book I linked above you will see that the growth of communist sympathies in western europe was quite strong in the aftermath of the war. It is part of the narrative (implicit in your previous post, I think) that this could not have happened unless the people were somehow driven to their conclusions by the USSR: I do not think that makes any sense at all. There has always been unrest because there has always been economic inequality as well as other sources of discontent such as religious difference. The French revolution was not based on a communist ideology: The many uprisings in 1848 were not "fomented" by the soviets: The Boxer rebellion was hardly communist inspired. The seeds of this are ever-present and I do not think one can "foment unrest" unless the people have pre-existing complaints.

I do see that a common enemy is a good way to keep the people from focussing on the ills arising within their own state. I am quite ignorant of american history so my perception of that may be wrong: but so far as I can tell the american polity has had such an enemy for a very long time: first the soviets and then the moslems. I wonder why that is?

Evidently not. The inherent threat that democracies pose to dictatorships is not imaginary at all, it is very real. And precisely because it is real, the converse is true too: dictatorships are necessarily hostile to democracies, because they must be in order to survive as dictatorships.

I do not follow this even yet. Dictatorships have lived alongside democracies for quite a while. You seem to assume that democracy is in some intrinsic sense superior, and that one whiff of it will lead people to challenge their dictators. Perhaps that is true. I do not see it is obvious, but let that pass. ( I will add that I do, in fact, think it is superior to dictatorship; but that does not mean democracy is a threat to dictators because at least some of the time it is the western democracies who uphold those dictators - see Saudi Arabia and in fact Iraq 20 years ago for examples).


I do not know where you live. But the point is not, and never was, that nuclear missiles could reach the US or the USSR. Missiles from the continental US can reach the USSR, and the converse as well. But they have to travel quite some distance, which means that there's a lot of warning time. Warning time matters, because it means that there is time to get your bombers in the air and launch your own missiles in retaliation. Which significantly decreases the value of a first-strike attack. Cut down that warning time significantly, and you up the value of a first-strike attack. We had damned good reason to be worried about that. The USSR had reason to be worried about that in regards to Turkey too, and as already stated, we pulled our missiles out of Turkey after the Cuban missile crisis.

Yes. So the response of the USSR exactly paralleled what the USA had done and it was a rational response which, by the by, achieved the desired result. What is the problem with that again ?

I didn't say they didn't win elections, I said they never came to power without using violence. Winning elections doesn't mean you didn't use violence. Violence can be a very effective weapon in shaping elections.

That is mere smear and need not detain us, I think

The point isn't whether or not it works out well, it's whether it works out better or worse than the alternatives. Letting the USSR sponsor insurgencies unopposed wouldn't have worked out well at all. I do not say this to suggest that we always took the best possible course of action, but to point out that actions have to be evaluated in light of alternatives, and the alternatives were frequently grim.

Well for whom?

Whether or not you want that, that's the way the world operates. And always will operate as long as there are dictatorships, because dictatorships will never recognize any other right. Yes, I'd like it if we could talk nicely to dictatorships and convince them to behave by showing them the wisdom of peace. Doesn't work, though. As Churchill said, "I hope I shall never see the day when the Force of Right is deprived of the Right of Force."

I find your stance quite curious. It is not, in fact, the way the world operates. The Geneva convention exists and it does go some way to limit the worst excesses of all out war. That is a fact, and although it is flawed and fails often that situation can be improved if we choose to pursue what we started.

It would require the democratic states to put democratic values before economic and imperialist ambition and that would entail us ceasing to support dictators as a matter of principle rather than pragmatism. But we can hardly say that the existence of dictators imposes upon us the necessity for war and force, when many of them would not have chance of sustaining power without our backing, can we?

Ziggurat
11th February 2009, 12:52 PM
Not really. Trotsky

... got killed by his fellow communists. He may not have been expansionist, but that hardly matters.

Nor do I see any logic in conflating the situation in east asia with the need for a buffer "sphere of influence".

I'm not conflating them. That was my whole point: they are not the same.

Both the west and the communist bloc believed that their way of doing things was correct and they both interfered in asia with a view to world domination, if that is how you choose to characterise it.

Ok. But earlier you said:

It [the west's reaction to the USSR's actions] was predicated on an assumption of a will to world domination which I do not see as evidenced.

It looks to me like you contradicted yourself.

dudalb
11th February 2009, 12:55 PM
I do see that a common enemy is a good way to keep the people from focussing on the ills arising within their own state. I am quite ignorant of american history so my perception of that may be wrong: but so far as I can tell the american polity has had such an enemy for a very long time: first the soviets and then the moslems. I wonder why that is?

What's that about having no ideology?
Yeah, America has no reason to consider Islamic fundamentalist as enemies.....

Ziggurat
11th February 2009, 01:30 PM
Well if you look at the book I linked above you will see that the growth of communist sympathies in western europe was quite strong in the aftermath of the war. It is part of the narrative (implicit in your previous post, I think) that this could not have happened unless the people were somehow driven to their conclusions by the USSR: I do not think that makes any sense at all.

That is not, and never was, my claim. There are two issues I take with this: first off, communists can't take power with just a few sympathizers, so the existence of sympathizers without Soviet influence wouldn't mean anything in regards to the necessity for violence in order for communists to attain power. Second, it also doesn't matter whether or not anyone could have been driven to their conclusions without the USSR: the relevant fact at the time was that the USSR was supporting communists in the west.

There has always been unrest because there has always been economic inequality as well as other sources of discontent such as religious difference. The French revolution was not based on a communist ideology

This only demonstrates that communism is not unique in its use of violence to attain power. It says nothing about whether or not that is indeed characteristic of communism.

I do see that a common enemy is a good way to keep the people from focussing on the ills arising within their own state.

This sounds like conspiracy theory thinking. There is an implication that such enemies are not real - because if they are, then it is only logical to focus attention and resources towards dealing with them.

I am quite ignorant of american history so my perception of that may be wrong: but so far as I can tell the american polity has had such an enemy for a very long time: first the soviets and then the moslems. I wonder why that is?

You indeed do have your American history wrong: muslims were our first (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War) enemy. Furthermore, consider for a moment our reluctance to get directly involved in WWII. Does that really match the actions of a nation hunting for an external enemy to distract the population? No, rather the reverse: we wanted to deal with our own internal problems and didn't want to get tangled up in Europe's wars (again).

I do not follow this even yet. Dictatorships have lived alongside democracies for quite a while.

And always in a state of antagonism. Sometimes that antagonism is contained better than at other times, but it is only contained by the threat of force on the side of democracies.

You seem to assume that democracy is in some intrinsic sense superior

Well, yes.

(I will add that I do, in fact, think it is superior to dictatorship; but that does not mean democracy is a threat to dictators because at least some of the time it is the western democracies who uphold those dictators - see Saudi Arabia and in fact Iraq 20 years ago for examples).

Um... you're kidding about Iraq, right? Iraq is the poster child for the inherently agressive nature of dictatorships. Saudi Arabia was a much better choice for you to use, but even there, I don't think it really demonstrates what you hope it would. Why do you think Saudi Arabia spends so much money funding extremist preachers in other countries? They have to try to expand the ideology which justifies their rule. They cannot justify it except on the grounds that it's the true path, which means they have an obligation to export that ideology. And that export has had direct impact on us. The government of Saudi Arabia may not have wanted or planned 9/11, but it is in large measure a result of their consistent efforts to export their ideology, and ideology which is inherently hostile to democracies.

Yes. So the response of the USSR exactly paralleled what the USA had done and it was a rational response which, by the by, achieved the desired result. What is the problem with that again ?

"problem" in what sense? That they acted illogically? I never said or even suggested anything along those lines. It was a problem in the sense that it created a security risk for us, a risk that we had to address. And we did. It is not a problem beyond that, because I do not have any expectation that the world must be the way that I would want it to be.

Well for whom?

For us. For the things we believe in. For the world in general. Take your pick.

I find your stance quite curious. It is not, in fact, the way the world operates. The Geneva convention exists and it does go some way to limit the worst excesses of all out war.

When is the last time an enemy of the united states followed the Geneva conventions? And to the extent that it has been followed at all by our enemies, exactly what do you think compelled them to follow it? Countries did not sign on to the convention because they thought their enemies were deserving of protections: they signed on in the hopes that it would provide some protection for themselves. It is the threat that their own side will be savaged with retaliatory violations which provides the real incentive to behave. Do not kid yourself that it has every been otherwise among our enemies.

But we can hardly say that the existence of dictators imposes upon us the necessity for war and force,

Sometimes the threat of war and force is sufficient to keep them in check.

when many of them would not have chance of sustaining power without our backing, can we?

What, you think that the dictators who have depended upon us to stay in power would have been replaced by enlightened democracies if only we had stayed out? No, that is not what would have happened. We were faced with choices between evils, and chose what we hoped would be the lesser one.

Ziggurat
11th February 2009, 01:36 PM
As to moral equivalence: that phrase always makes me smile. If I do something wrong and you do something wrong then yes: we are morally equivalent. I do not see how you can argue with that.

Really? So if I throw a rock through your window, and you throw a firebomb through mine, we're really the same? I think that's rather easy to argue with.

Fiona
11th February 2009, 01:39 PM
... got killed by his fellow communists. He may not have been expansionist, but that hardly matters.

Er.....no. Trotsky was committed to world wide and continuing revolution: it is one of the reasons he was killed by his fellow communists.



I'm not conflating them. That was my whole point: they are not the same.

Then we are agreed



Ok. But earlier you said:



It looks to me like you contradicted yourself.

Not really. If you wish to say that the USA is intent on world domination then I am happy to say the same of the USSR. Personally I do not think it is like that in either case, but I am happy to concede the characterisation if it is applied to both

Skeptic
11th February 2009, 02:09 PM
(Sigh)

It's very easy to claim moral equivelancy. Just concentrate on the fact that both the USA and the USSR were imperfect -- and ignore at all costs any discussion of how much imperfection each had.

For example, compare McCarthy to Stalin. Both hurt many innocent people due to their their political paranoia and power-hungry cynicism. VOILA! Instant moral equivelancy!

As long as you deliberately ignore that in the USA McCarthy had thousands fired, while in the USSR Stalin had millions killed, of course.

Ziggurat
11th February 2009, 02:29 PM
If you wish to say that the USA is intent on world domination then I am happy to say the same of the USSR.

So it really does come down to moral equivalency, then. NoZed Avenger was right.

Fiona
11th February 2009, 03:14 PM
I don't actually think morals comes into it. I thought I had made that clear but obviously I hadn't

Skeptic
11th February 2009, 03:21 PM
But moral DO come into it, Fiona. When one side kills tens of millions to advance a crackpot utopian view and the other, while imperfect, is democratic and prosperous, to ignore the morality of the situation is to ignore the whole point. I might as well ask if, say, stopping rape is necessary -- if one ignores the annoying "consent" issue.

Ziggurat
11th February 2009, 03:32 PM
I don't actually think morals comes into it.

Skeptic is right: they do come in. They are not the only factor, but to dismiss them is to say we should not consider morals in deciding our actions. Because if you don't consider morals, well, then WW2 wasn't necessary either. After all, what difference does it make if Hitler conquers Europe?

Fiona
11th February 2009, 04:45 PM
Interesting. I am having some trouble understanding your position Ziggurat.

On the one hand you seem to say that what is "right" is irrelevant because we must deal with the world as it is. That is a pragmatic position. There is nothing wrong with it and indeed many people involved in politics and international relations would subscribe to it.

This impression of your position is reinforced by such statements as

The question of whether and how to interfere in any particular case might be tricky, but to suppose we should simply abstain when our adversaries never would is not being principled, it is being naive.

Had more of them been successful, the possible economic impact could have been enormous. Which in turn would have seriously constrained our own military power.

The USSR had reason to be worried about that in regards to Turkey too, and as already stated, we pulled our missiles out of Turkey after the Cuban missile crisis.

The point isn't whether or not it works out well, it's whether it works out better or worse than the alternatives. Letting the USSR sponsor insurgencies unopposed wouldn't have worked out well at all. I do not say this to suggest that we always took the best possible course of action, but to point out that actions have to be evaluated in light of alternatives, and the alternatives were frequently grim.

These all seem to me to bespeak an approach based on realpolitik and it is in line with the idea that politics and international relations are wholly and justifiably intent on promoting our own interests. "nations have no permanent friend or allies, only permanent interests". A well attended school of thought indeed.

But now you introduce the idea of morality. Ok. Many people do think morals has a place in politics too, so that is not that unusual. As it happens I do think so: though I was not introducing it in this thread because the question was about whether the cold war was necessary and that is irrelevant to its morality.

But let us admit it to the discussion. As I said, the charge of "moral equivalence" always makes me smile when it is brought forward as a criticism. To me morality is a principle. Nothing the other guy does can ever justify an immoral act. But of course that is the distinction between right and wrong.

What you seem to be bringing in is the second possibility I raised in the earlier post: the question of greater and lesser harm. And so I infer you are in some sense a consequentialist. Again a perfectly respectable position but not one to which I would apply the term moral. That is perhaps just a difference in our use of language, but we cannot assume common premises in questions of this kind so it is easy to confuse each other.

It makes sense to me if you are founding on the idea that the distinction between right and wrong is not in play:but only outcomes.

For me morality has to be a bit more than that. If the outcome would be the same in the same circumstances I see nothing to choose between the stances. So you would have to show that the different outcomes were a matter of principle and not of circumstance. This is the point of my question about the US reaction to a communist canada, I judge there is no inherent difference between what they would do and what russia did do. You may believe otherwise: you may think that if Canada elected a communist government the US would not have taken military and economic action at whatever level was required to change that decision. If you do believe that then I accept there is a moral difference, in the way you use the term.

Ziggurat
11th February 2009, 05:06 PM
Interesting. I am having some trouble understanding your position Ziggurat.

On the one hand you seem to say that what is "right" is irrelevant because we must deal with the world as it is.

No. I am saying that simply pretending that the world works the way we wish it would will do no good. Acting as if the world operated by rules other than it actually does will do harm, and will in fact make it harder to achieve the closest things we can get to "right". I am NOT saying that what we want to achieve should be unguided by what is "right". That has never been my position, though I do think that, practically speaking, we do have to give some priority to our own interests because the public's altruistic impulses are not unlimited.

But now you introduce the idea of morality. Ok. Many people do think morals has a place in politics too, so that is not that unusual. As it happens I do think so: though I was not introducing it in this thread because the question was about whether the cold war was necessary and that is irrelevant to its morality.

It's entirely relevant, because asking whether or not it's "necessary" always implies an answer to the question "necessary for what?". And THAT question should indeed be influenced by morality.

But let us admit it to the discussion. As I said, the charge of "moral equivalence" always makes me smile when it is brought forward as a criticism. To me morality is a principle. Nothing the other guy does can ever justify an immoral act.

But doesn't the morality of a given action depend upon circumstances? Is killing someone moral? Well, if they're minding their own business, probably not. If they're about to kill you, it very well may be. You might not consider this to be justifying an immoral act, in the sense that it's not immoral if he's about to kill you, but his actions most certainly do matter in determining the justifiability of yours.

What you seem to be bringing in is the second possibility I raised in the earlier post: the question of greater and lesser harm. And so I infer you are in some sense a consequentialist. Again a perfectly respectable position but not one to which I would apply the term moral.

I suppose I am a bit of a consequentialist. But why wouldn't you apply "moral" to it? Can you not attach moral value to consequences? Or for the preference of lesser harm to greater harm?

Lonewulf
11th February 2009, 07:22 PM
Do you want my answer from the Realist perspective, the Liberalist perspective (no, not as in "liberals vs. conversatives", I'm talking International Relations viewpoints, totally different), the Neo-Liberalist perspective, the Constructivist perspective, or the Marxist perspective?

In the Realist perspective, the one I have the most familiarity with currently, the Cold War was definitely a must. You have a bipolarity of two great Hegemons, both of which were considered very powerful in terms of military strength, international influence, etc. (a definition which pretty much comes from being a Hegemon). Naturally the two would compete in one way or the other, and they did so through a series of proxy wars (coming close to outright nuclear warfare at a point).

I don't know yet how to give a good description of the situation from the other perspectives. Realism is the most simplistic; it sees States as individuals, and doesn't bother itself with ideology, psychology, or morality.

Now, back to studying. @_@

Texas
11th February 2009, 07:32 PM
As to moral equivalence: that phrase always makes me smile. If I do something wrong and you do something wrong then yes: we are morally equivalent. I do not see how you can argue with that.



So if I shoplift a loaf of bread and you rip off the pensions of little old ladies we are morally equivalent?

Texas
11th February 2009, 07:38 PM
I don't actually think morals comes into it. I thought I had made that clear but obviously I hadn'tI am still having trouble with your opening question. "Was the Cold War Necessary?". If in your view it wasn't then what steps could the USA and USSR have taken to prevent it?

Lonewulf
11th February 2009, 08:35 PM
I can't think of many (speaking as myself, not as someone learning philosophies behind International Relations). The U.S. would have to become isolationist and not be concerned with other countries, and the USSR would have to not be concerned about "converting" the U.S.A. (more and more difficult as it gains more and more power)

Texas
11th February 2009, 08:41 PM
I can't think of many (speaking as myself, not as someone learning philosophies behind International Relations). The U.S. would have to become isolationist and not be concerned with other countries, and the USSR would have to not be concerned about "converting" the U.S.A. (more and more difficult as it gains more and more power)

"Peace at any cost" is both achievable and horrific.

tomwaits
12th February 2009, 07:03 AM
I'm a little confused by the topic. The cold war itself was an avoidance of war between the western powers and the USSR. So, we are asking whether an avoidance of war could have been avoided? My answer is yes...we could have invaded the Soviet Union. Personally, I prefer the war to be cold rather than hot.

Lonewulf
12th February 2009, 07:07 AM
"Peace at any cost" is both achievable and horrific.

Yet we've achieved relative global peace; while there's still small wars here and there, the majority of conflict is settled through economic markets, not through military strength. Hopefully we can keep up such a process.

Furthermore, democracies don't seem to fight each other, at all. But forceful democratization is a pipe dream at best, I think, especially as we enter the Eastern, more Confucius-oriented world. Japan being about the only working counter-example, and even then a sparse one, given that their government isn't quite like ours.

Fiona
12th February 2009, 12:34 PM
The many different approaches to the OP are a very clear demonstration to me that I did not conceptualise my thought properly: it is one of my more miserable efforts at communication and I take full responsibility for that failure. Having read what has been said I am not sure I can do much better now: things I deliberately left out in order to keep things simple (as I thought) turn out to be central: and there is much that is relevant that I do not know enough about.

Ideally I would be able to narrow the field of discussion. I cannot and I think that probably exposes a muddiness in my thinking which, at present, I am unable to dispel. So far what I have gleaned is this:

1. The general question of morality cannot be excluded, and so it must be dealt with before the particular issue can be considered

2. The question of what the "real world" is actually like is in dispute. I would have to find some way of sorting out the premises which underlie each proposition regarding this: and then a way of testing them against a variety of complicated situations, to see what looks to be essential

3. The question of whether both sides were ideologically driven or only one was also seems to be subject to different points of view and that too would have to be addressed, I think

4. The aims of both sides are not agreed: that may or may not be subsumed under the second question and it is certainly also influence by how we answer the first. But I think it is distinct

5. If I can come to a conclusion about all of the above there is then my original question - was it necessary or were there alternatives which could and/or should have been considered and perhaps adopted.

I am very conscious that this may not be an accurate outline of the things which seem to have caused confusion and it is almost certainly not comprehensive: but it is what I have come to so far


So my own take is this (there will be some repetition here, but I see no way to avoid it if I am to pull this together in a way that makes sense, at least to me :))

1. I have already outlined some of my own view of morality as it pertains to this issue: it is obvious that I could do with a bit more reflection on it and I know there are some on this board who are far more knowledgeable than I - but I do not think they come to politics much :(. So I am doing the best I can.

As I said, I do not think that morals are related to outcomes in any direct way. For me morality is confined to questions of what is right and what is wrong.

Further, I believe that this is entirely within the person: it is related to what kind of person we wish to be and what kinds of actions that decision imposes upon us. It follows that morality cannot be an attribute of a group or a state or an organisation: but since it attaches to the individuals within those, it is still in play and cannot be excluded, as I sought to do.

I would argue that this is amply demonstrated in some of the people we choose to admire: those who have stood against a group of any stripe on a matter of conscience. We may not agree with the particular issue on which they chose to take a stand: but most of us do recognise a kind of virtue in that kind of behaviour, and there are historical and literary examples which inform our thinking about what it means to be fully human. Integrity and a personal moral code is part of that thinking and it is not an easy path because it often leads to martyrdom or at the very least to no date for the school dance. It is also difficult because sometimes what appears to be a moral stance is no more than pride and stubbornness: even where the worst consequences follow it is not necessarily indicative of a moral principle rather than of hubris or some other less than desirable quality. Nevertheless that is how I conceive of morality and it is obviously not the only way to look at it - we are bedevilled by the imprecision of words and so we cannot assume we understand each other when we use such terms. So it is essential to look at definitions and I lay this out to try to avoid some of the confusion which has already arisen.

So far that view has been opposed by what I have referred to as "consequentialism" As I understand the people who have raised questions about the differential morality of different outcomes, they propose that less harm is equal to more moral. I do not agree with that. I think it obscures too much. Thus I will answer the simple questions which have been put to me this way: whether we are talking about the loaf of bread v old lady's pension: or the rock through the window V the fire bomb, I am wholly unable to judge the morality of each action without more information. In particular I need to know what each action aimed to achieve: if the aim was the same then I need to know what circumstances led to the choice of one action rather than another; that is I need to know that both had equal likelihood of achieving that goal by taking the path of lesser harm: I need to know that the person who caused less harm would have refused to do what caused the greater harm. no matter what that meant for his prospects of achieving his purpose.

If it can be demonstrated that the person who caused less harm did so because of the constraints he adopted on the basis of his moral code then I freely concede he is more moral than the other: but if he did so because it was not necessary to causethe greater harm to reach his goal: if it can be shown he would have taken the path of greater harm if that was necessary to gain what he wanted, then he is no more moral than the other. The outcome does not tell me anything I find relevant. And that is the reason I reject consequentialism as a basis for judgement of any given action in moral terms.

Of course this begs the question, because we cannot make windows into people's minds. At one level that does not matter because we are talking about principles of moral discourse. But in practice it does matter. I resolve it by maintaining a clear distinction between morals and the rule of law. For me morality is private and individual: but action in the public sphere is shared and is regulated by law. There are times, as noted, when morals do require us to resist unjust laws; it is important to be very sure it is a moral imperative and it is also true to say that this usually leads to very bad personal consequences which we must be prepared to accept. But the difference for me lies there: law is not a matter of morality and in the field of law it is legitimate to sanction on the basis of relative harm, amongst other considerations.

So the question, as it relates to the issue I raised in the opening post is: was the soviet union less moral than the USA? Since I do not believe morality can attach to institutions or states I must conclude that the question is meaningless. I will be interested to hear from those who have sought to place morality at the heart of the issue where the point of disagreement lies

Hey ho, another great wall of text. I would like to address the other questions outlined above but this will turn into a novella. I will come back to them if I may

Giz
12th February 2009, 02:59 PM
So the question, as it relates to the issue I raised in the opening post is: was the soviet union less moral than the USA? Since I do not believe morality can attach to institutions or states I must conclude that the question is meaningless. I will be interested to hear from those who have sought to place morality at the heart of the issue where the point of disagreement lies



Hmmm, the vast majority people would have no difficulty in saying that (as an example) the USA was more moral than Germany in the period 1939 to 1945.

(And by the same lights, a lot of people would also say that the USA was more moral than the USSR in the period 1945 to 1991.)

ddt
12th February 2009, 06:13 PM
That is not, and never was, my claim. There are two issues I take with this: first off, communists can't take power with just a few sympathizers, so the existence of sympathizers without Soviet influence wouldn't mean anything in regards to the necessity for violence in order for communists to attain power. Second, it also doesn't matter whether or not anyone could have been driven to their conclusions without the USSR: the relevant fact at the time was that the USSR was supporting communists in the west.

No, the USSR wasn't supporting communists in the west; it was instructing them how to act politically. One of the lesser-known facts of the Cold War is that Stalin in the late 1940s specifically instructed the real big communist parties in western Europe - the French and Italian - not to try any form of revolution, but to cooperate with the bourgeois parties. As for Italy, you may have noticed that the communist party never was part of government, but did support a lot of the government coalitions.

I've never bought much into the "communist threat" to western Europe. Stalin was too much of a realist to try anything; and he had his hands full with his newly acquired eastern European satellite states: 1948 Czechoslovakia, 1951 strikes in Poland, 1952 strikes East Germany, to name a few. To throw up the Berlin blockade - which was a western enclave within the Soviet empire - as proof of Soviet designs on the west is a bit of red herring. As late as 1952, Stalin offered a reunification of Germany on terms of strict neutrality. The offer was never discussed on, so we don't know to what extent it was serious; but fact is that the Soviets did give up their part of Austria on condition of Austrian neutrality.

Moreover, Stalin was the proponent of "communism in one country" at the 5th Party Congress (where Trotzky was thrown out). The expansion of the Soviet empire to the west seems to me primarily motivated by imperial ambitions - after all, the Russians had seen their share of invading armies, from 1812 to 1914-1917 to 1941-1945 - and not so much by a desire to spread communism around the world. There's a direct line in Russian imperial policy from Ivan IV to Peter the Great to Stalin and finally to Putin. With Putin more or less having restored Russia's glory, it will be interesting to see to what extent the Cold War was a clash of systems, and to what extent it was a traditional clash of spheres of influence of great powers.

Ziggurat
12th February 2009, 09:37 PM
I've never bought much into the "communist threat" to western Europe.

The cold war was always about far more than western Europe.

Skeptic
13th February 2009, 02:44 AM
When deciding which side was morally superior to the other, which was good and which was evil, in the cold war, then we need to look in general at the overall situation in both the USA and the USSR.

When deciding what should have been done in particular situations -- whether the USA should have, say, helped country X at time Y due to the risk of a communist takeover, and if so, how -- then the particular situation should be considered, and general moral principles might not apply: whether to stop country X from turning communist might depend on how and if it can be done and at what cost.

Some people here prefer to get things back-asswards. That is, they totally ignore the overall moral bankrupcy and hell that was the USSR, and the prosperity and freedom of the USA in favor on trying to created some "moral equivelancy" based on the fact that in specific cases the USA did not according to its general moral principles.

Why? Because it's easier to make the USA look bad (and themselves look like moral exemplars for "denouncing" it) this way. But it's actual moral bankrupcy and lack of realism, not moral superity, which is shown here.

Corsair 115
13th February 2009, 02:04 PM
I'm quite aware of that, given I come from one of those allied nations. This thread is making a comparison between the USA and USSR, hence the focus on US efforts in WW2.


Yes, I know you are. But it does not seem out of place to mention that the U.S. fought neither WWII or the Cold War by itself. It did have allies in both, so the role played (or not played, as the case may be) in both conflicts may be of peripheral interest.

Tin Foil Timothy
13th February 2009, 04:33 PM
This is a very strange thread. The idea that there is some type of equivalency between the USSR's actions and the USA's actions is really turning history on its head.

The mere fact that the USSR built walls to keep their population inside, and shot people who tried to leave, is enough evidence for me.

For all our (USA) supposed oppression of Latin America, you don't see a mass migration away from the 'mother country', do you? In fact, its quite the opposite. Why do you think that is?

The US supports a country that builds big 30 foot walls around people to keep them in and shoots them while they are still behind those walls. It's supported this country for 60 years and currently gives it $3 BILLION a year to help it shoot them.

Thunder
14th February 2009, 03:15 PM
The US supports a country that builds big 30 foot walls around people to keep them in and shoots them while they are still behind those walls. .

Are you referring to Northern Ireland? Ever seen the "Peace Wall" in Londonderry?

Region Rat
14th February 2009, 06:22 PM
The US supports a country that builds big 30 foot walls around people to keep them in and shoots them while they are still behind those walls. It's supported this country for 60 years and currently gives it $3 BILLION a year to help it shoot them.

What the heck does that have.....Oh, wait a minute. I see what you did here. You took a discussion about the US and the USSR and the cold war and turned it into another anti-Israel rant. Pretty slick segue, but I'm afraid its a bit of a derail.

BazBear
15th February 2009, 05:52 AM
Britain was dangerously close to losing before the US even entered the war. Had the summer of 1940 been a little bit different (for example, if Germany had kept targeting the British military instead of vengefully targeting cities, and not foolishly decided to invade the USSR) Operation Sea Lion may have occurred and been successful.

At that point, only British overseas territories would have been left and they were under attack by Japan.

Yes, they did come dangerously close to losing.
Yes, this was, in my opinion, one of the biggest reasons Nazi Germany started heading downhill (Sealion would have been a "mortar forker", I've seen German plans, the generals in charge were thinking "river assault" DOH!), they spent too much effort with the Brits, and ended up with a fair number of their best pilots dead.

Trojan_Jockey
15th February 2009, 09:33 AM
What the heck does that have.....Oh, wait a minute. I see what you did here. You took a discussion about the US and the USSR and the cold war and turned it into another anti-Israel rant. Pretty slick segue, but I'm afraid its a bit of a derail.

I'm not sure if this should be classed as a derailment, or simply another manifestation of what appears to be an obsessive compulsive disorder!

Travis
16th February 2009, 06:01 AM
I'm not sure if this should be classed as a derailment, or simply another manifestation of what appears to be an obsessive compulsive disorder!

Israeli Obsessive Disorder?

MarkCorrigan
16th February 2009, 06:10 AM
Why do you say that? They had the will, materiel, and manpower to subjugate eastern Europe. What makes you think they had no further ambitions?

I probably shouldn't jump in without reading past this but.....

Assuming (and make no mistake, I do) that the USSR was a "bad state" and one that Europe would not have done well under the direct or indirect control of, then YES the cold war was necessary in order to stifle the Soviet Union, for reasons I shall elaborate on. The arms race was not, strictly speaking necessary but was a general thing to come out of the Cold War and likely would have happened sooner or later.

Why did I quote Wildcat's post? Well, not only do I totally agree with both the statements and implications, I can also state with great certainty that they didn't even need such a powerful army. While the UK and some of the other Western nations would not have gone down so easily, France, Italy and Greece were all close to voting in Quasi-Communist/ Stalinist political parties. Thus the USA funded opposition parties heavily, and conducted mass propaganda campaigns in Western Europe. This, understandably, lead to the USSR being less than happy with it's erstwhile allies, and caused them to start the general bickering, one one-upmanship and thinly veiled threats that were the Cold War.