BY: Eric Paul
TA: Mr. Kalhor
The 1940’s and the next four decades after, were a time of bitter
struggle between the US and the Soviet Union. National identity as well as
ideological differences brought both countries to the brink of nuclear war, a
revolutionary style of warfare causing the most disastrous demographic disaster
known to man. There are numerous speculations on who actually started the war.
It can be argued both ways that both the US and the USSR acted offensively
towards each other. But the only real fact is that one represented an open
democracy and the other a closed totalitarian system and both were the only
real superpowers left standing after World War II.1 This split generated a
bipolar effect bringing the entire world into a game of tug of war between the
two superpowers. Throughout the four decades actual combative war never broke
out but in turn a similar game of chess was played. One country would move and
the other would countermove. It was finally America that came out on top and
the Soviet Union a collapsed failure, but not necessarily because the US was
stronger and out muscled the Soviets militarily. The end of the Cold War was
primarily due to economic factors.
What America proved was that the economy works best when the government
stays out and individuals within the society do the work.2 It is only the
individuals within the society that truly understand what products are in demand.
Under Communist regime a few select rulers decide what are the needs of the
society, what resources are their country’s scarcities, and how to obtain these
scarcities. Finding this information is a big job and requires endless amounts
of domestic attention. With this in mind the quote Nature’s laws are
immutable… Communism is only an ideal dream3 becomes much clearer. One
leader simply does not have enough time nor money to invest in the acquisition
of thorough and accurate knowledge pertaining to the country’s economic system
(especially a country as large as Russia). But I am not writing to debate
whether communism can or can not work but that America/Democracy did not really
beat Russia/Communism in the Cold War. Russia/Communism destroyed itself.
Russia blotched the job. How? By instead of striving to build the country’s
economic muscle and develop mutually beneficial relationships with neighboring
countries therefore acquiring the otherwise unavailable scarcities, Russia chose
to attempt building an empire throughout Europe and Asia based on the
ideological concept of Communism and by competing with the United States in an
arms race it could not support.
Directly after WWII, Stalin set Russia up under a Communistic regime.
Having suffered the greatest casualties during WWII, it would seem common
judgment that Russia’s focus be more on domestic rehabilitation than
international affairs. On the same side the fact that Stalin set up a
Communistic government would also lean in favor that Russia must strengthen
itself before turning to international affairs. As stated earlier The Communist
form of Government is similar to that of a car with a standard transmission. In
order to drive the car one must be able to shift the gears accordingly. Stalin
does not focus on the domestic issues fronting his Country and in no way shifts
the gears of Russia’s economy. In 1948 Stalin begins to struggle with
Yugoslavia’s leader Tito with the argument Tito’s version of Communism did not
match the Soviets.1 Also in 1948, Stalin used military force to destroy the
democratic nation of Czechoslovakia and reinstate Soviet Communism.2 Much of
Europe was already in such shambles from the effects of WWII that the only hope
was seen in the United States, furthermore whether it be Communism or Democracy
did not matter as much as simply getting moving. It was not until 1949 when
Stalin ordered the block around West Germany in order to obtain the entire city,
that the US stepped in.3 The United States rolled Russia back and the Cold War
Stalin still avoided dealing with his Country’s domestic problems such
as the economy, and issues of human rights, decided if he could not expand his
weak deceitful empire throughout Europe then maybe Asia would be a good place to
try. Throughout the 1950’s Russia aided in developing Soviet communism
throughout China, Korea, Vietnam, and smaller third World Countries such as
Indonesia, India, Egypt, And Syria.1 Whether by force of influence Russia tried
to set Soviet Communism up and in each place the US was also there to stop them.
Tensions between the US and Soviets grew and between the years of 1957
and 1962 an arms race broke out.2 The Soviets launched the first nuclear
satellite called Sputnik.3 Both Countries raced to develop ICBM and SLBM
Russia was limited economically though. They had spent all the post-war
time meddling in international business trying to set up a weak empire of Soviet
Communism throughout the continent of Europe and Asia. Meanwhile unrest existed
at home as the Government shifted all spending into the arms race with the US.
This economic decision exhausted the Soviet economy and off balanced the entire
industrial system.5 Russia’s final offensive against the United States was
known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. 6 This offensive resulted in little more than
a small trade of the US removing its missiles from Turkey.
By the end of the arms race with America, Russia was economically
destroyed and before long collapsed. Although little is written about how the
Russians dealt with their domestic problems during the Cold War, We do know from
looking at the results, economic starvation and political depravation, that it
was not enough. The powerful country of Russia emerged from WWII with major
domestic needs that were not met by the leaders of the country nor were the
leaders of the country ready to attempt the beautiful theory of a Communistic
society hence Russia/Communism destroyed itself in the Cold War by ignoring its
domestic and economic needs and not forming dependable and mutually beneficial
relationships with neighboring countries.
Page 1 :
1. Spiegel, Steven. World Politics in a New Era, Harcourt Brace; 1995.
2. Allen William, The midnight Economist. Thomas Horton; 1997.
3. Feline Peter, Americans and the Soviet Experiment. Harvard University Press;
Page 2 :
1. Spiegel, Steven. World Politics in a New Era, Harcourt Brace; 1995. 2. Same
as above 3. Same as above
Page 3 :
1. Spiegel, Steven. World Politics in a New Era, Harcourt Brace; 1995 2. Same as
above 3. Same as above
Allen, William, The Midnight Economists. Thomas Horton, Sun lake, Arizona; 1997.
Feline Peter, Americans and the Soviet Experiment. Harvard University,
Cambridge, Ma; 1967
Spiegel Steven, World Politics in a New Era. Harcourt Brace; 1995