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Forum LockedDid the U.S. prolong the Cold War or shorten it?

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DukeC View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-May-2009 at 18:00
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

IMHO, Russia and Russians, as opposed to ageing KGB men, have had underlying hostility to the West for centuries - at least since the age of Peter the Great - a love-hate relationship with Western ideas.  It is a cultural issue that had been papered over while Russia turned in upon itself.  "The West as a threat" is a propaganda tool at least as old as Napoleon.  That has played well in regaining influence in the Causasus, a geostrategic vital interest.
Lucas says the same thing.
Quote Frankly, Russia may not survive the 21st century without re-establishing sufficient influence in central Asia and Ukraine to 1) exercise veto power over any of their state policies that affect Russian interests, and 2) get favorable terms on access to Ukraine's food resources and to central Asian mineral resources.  Denying other power centers strategic access to those geographic regions is also a major concern.  There was after all a reason for a Russian empire, and that has only changed in form rather than substance.   
The indicators of Russia's potential demise are too obvious for their policy makers to make her a good neighbor rather than a Bear with a sore butt.
If Russia had more of a democratic traditional this might not be neccessary. Unfortunately the pattern there has been of rule by despots of one stripe or another, maybe the size and lack of natural defence barriers makes it inevitable.
I think it's definitely a mistake to think of those in the Kremlin now as being warm and cuddly believers in freedom and the rule of law. Expendiency has been put in the drivers seat in Russia as has been the case for much of it's history. 

Edited by DukeC - 07-May-2009 at 18:02
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pikeshot1600 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-May-2009 at 18:11
We have all gone around and around on this before, but the USSR being the "poorer country" was only a part of the issue.  Since the 1930s, the underlying economy of the USSR had been geared to military production.  That was both because of the distrust and somewhat paranoid fear of the "West," and also because it gave the population jobs.
Lacking extensive consumer driven industry, the economy of the socialist state was an imitation of what the USSR purported to be their nemesis - the fascist-capitalist West.  The West produced arms, but it also produced consumer durables and housing and bank deposits and agricultural surplus.  The USSR produced arms and vodka.  Insufficient wealth was produced that could be accessed for all that the Soviet military state wanted:
A 4,000,000 man standing army with conventional superiority in Europe.
Superior missile forces.
A navy that could contest the US anywhere it could go.
Something should have gone but nothing did.  The Soviet military state never could understand that it was a continental power - and secure in that it could not be successfully attacked.  They spent it all on a lot they did not really need, and could not help themselves.

Edited by pikeshot1600 - 07-May-2009 at 20:46
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gcle2003 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-May-2009 at 19:45
The point about the Reagan initiative is that it hugely extended the potential military capacity of the US by adopting a policy of financing from abroad - borrowing to pay the cost, without any real concern about paying it back, except to some extent by selling US institutions.
It's the equivalent in a poker game of one player not only already having more money than his opponent, but also raising his ability to bet by borrowing from the spectators, and it distinguishes Reagan from all his predecessors.
Pike is probably right that the USSR would have done better by in effect refusing to play.

Edited by gcle2003 - 07-May-2009 at 19:47
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