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Forum LockedRoots of the Cold War

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    Posted: 02-Jun-2009 at 19:20

There been a pretty good debate on this subject going on in the nukes thread so I figured I'd start a dedicated thread.

My contention is basically, without the aggressive actions taken by Stalin at the end of WW II and immediately after the war there wouldn't have been a Cold War.
 
The first cracks in the Grand Alliance began in 1944 when Stalin began violating agreements on treatment of liberated nations in Eastern Europe. Instead of working to set up indepedent self-determining governments in countries like Poland, Stalin began to eliminate any potential opposition there. Resistance leaders were entinced to come out of hiding in Poland and 16 of them traveled to Moscow on the promise of a meeting with Stalin. Instead of being brought to the Kremlin however, they found themselves imprisoned in the Lubyanka. The Soviet prison system would ingulf eventually 20,000 polish indepence fighters. The Soviets swiftly acted to seize control of all Eastern Europe and deny access to its' wartime allies.
 
In the east Manchuria was also considered to be an exclusion zone for the west and demands were made on Turkey for territory in its' eastern part of the country and shared control of the Dardanelles. Northern Iran was to become part of Azerbaijan and only after protests in the newly founded U.N. did the Soviets finally remove its' armed forces from the north as was agreed before the end of WW II leaving the separatist movement it had created to be dismantled by the Iranian government. The Soviets even went as far as demanding control of Libya for naval bases in the Med and there was a planned invasion of Japan on Aug. 22 that was cancelled as that war quickly ended. It would have seen the U.S. with limited or perhaps no post war control of the nation that attacked it in 1941. In Germany there was constant pressure to force the removal of western forces and overt acts like the Berlin Blockade in 1948 to physically remove the west from eastern Germany and eventually from the nation as a whole. The Korean War was probably the final act in turning a cold Cold War into a much hotter one. A poorly armed U.S. supported South Korea
was virtually wipped from the map by a massively armed North Korea led by a former Soviet officer.
 
You don't create trust in an ally by telling him you DON"T trust him and need massive buffer zones to feel secure. Stalin misjudged his former allies and destroyed most of the good will created by the Soviet victory over Germany. One mans paranoia and desire for unlimited power had more to do with the Cold War than all the western allies leaders and nations put together. 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Jun-2009 at 20:06
While I agree in general about how the USSR went about it's business, at least in east Europe and in north Asia, I doubt the Western Allies were surprised by any of it.  Their expressed displeasure over the imposition of Soviet control allowed the US and Britain to be seen as right-thinking friends to Poles and Czechs and Hungarians, etc. 
 
Eastern Europe was really a continuation of Russian influence being moved as far to the west as possible....a continuation of the Great Northern War and the partitions of Poland in the 18th century, and of further power consolidation in Poland after the Napoleonic wars.
 
Manchuria and Korea were old objectives at the very least since the 1890s.  It is no coincidence that they fought the Japanese several times over influence in these areas.
 
The Caucasus and Iran = oil, and access to the warm water Gulf region, oh, and oil (and did I mention oil?)  As far as the oil, the consideration was more denying it to others than the USSR needing it.
 
Not one thing in those three points had anything to do with the Soviet socialist order.  Every one had to do with historical Russian vital interests.  Did the post war actions of the USSR "cause" the Cold War?  Probably, although I can't see another power center after 1945, other than the US, being involved in geopolitics. 
 
Soviet (Russian) moves into the south Balkans resulted in NATO (otherwise Turkey had been a neutral, but historically an enemy of Russia).  Before the Greek civil war, there were no US forces in the eastern Mediterranean. 
 
The "Communist" moves in north Asia had to be supported by the USSR (Russia) - for it's own purposes - and resulted in UN action in Korea and then in SEATO.  Before the invasion of South Korea, there were no US forces on the Korean peninsula. 
 
Soviet (Russian) actions in Iran during and after the Korean War were attempts at influence in Persia since at least the beginning of the 19th century.  That resulted in CENTO.  Before 1953, there was virtually no US presence in the Gulf, and not much for thirty years after that.
 
It takes at least two to have a war, cold or hot, and, the USSR was going to take advantage of old Russian objectives until a barrier was placed in the way.  Without the nuclear deterrants it may have been a lot hotter.  (See the Nukes thread.)
 
       


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 02-Jun-2009 at 20:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Jun-2009 at 17:48

There's no doubt that Stalin was a throwback to a more imperial time in Russia and the region and I think he can in some ways be considered to be a counter-revolution to the communist revolution that propelled him into power. He openly admired the princes and czars that had expanded the Russian empire for generations and showed none of the internationalism and social justice that communism was supposed to be based on. In many ways Soviet citizens had less freedom under Stalin than they did as serfs, he seemed willing to throw their lives away in a manner that is almost unprecedented in history.

I think Stalin was a deeply flawed individual who needed to create an environment of almost total control around him(think of a combination of Al Capone, John Dillinger and Ted Bundy). This can be seen in the ruthless way he first gained control of the Bolsheviks after Lenins death, then went on to eliminate not only visable opposition to his rule but even the appearance of an alternative to it. And while this may have worked in a nation and region that had little or no experience in democracy and openess, when he tried to apply the same approach to his former allies after the war to create that same sense of control internationally it resulted in the Cold War. I think Churchill was more of a realist in seeing it coming and Roosevelt honestly thought he had a friendship with Stalin and the two naitons could co-operate post WW II. Obviously Roosevelt didn't know or discounted what had happened to most of Stalins former "friends"and colleagues through the many purges and cleansings that occured under him. All of the original members of the first Politburo didn't survive Stalin.
 
Same root cause in some ways as some of the earlier imperial conflicts, only this time it had more to do with the neurosis of one man than a national desire I think.


Edited by DukeC - 03-Jun-2009 at 17:51
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WolfHound85 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 05:18
Warsaw Uprising pretty much showed Stalin never cared about the people in Eastern Europe but rather setting up satellites countries.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 12:52
Originally posted by DukeC DukeC wrote:

There's no doubt that Stalin was a throwback to a more imperial time in Russia
Yeah, that whole, what? 5 years, between Imperial Russia and Stalin was such a gap.
Duke, the Cold War didn't start in 1945, it just paused while Hitler was a bigger threat. Poland is no different from Khiva in the eyes of the Great Players.


Edited by Omar al Hashim - 04-Jun-2009 at 12:54
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 16:44

The guy just beat the best army the world has ever seen, had 10 million soldiers beyond his borders, more tanks than the allied + Germans combined and some serious grievences.

Why should he give up what he lost 10 million soldiers to achieve while the allies got everything?

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 18:38
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

Yeah, that whole, what? 5 years, between Imperial Russia and Stalin was such a gap.
Duke, the Cold War didn't start in 1945, it just paused while Hitler was a bigger threat. Poland is no different from Khiva in the eyes of the Great Players.
 
Yes, but supposedly he was a part of the Social Democratic movement which was going to replace the oppressive imperialism of Russia with an enlightened workers paradise, it was the rationale behind forcing people to accept so many sacrifices.
 
I think you're right about the Cold War having deeper roots, the imperialist competition of pre-WW I and that war set the stage for someone of Stalins nature to take power in Russia. I think given this and the instability caused by the after-effects of WW I, ongoing conflicts were inevitable. Basically there was never going to be peace or stability in the world with Stalin(or Hitler) in control of a major power.
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 18:47
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

The guy just beat the best army the world has ever seen, had 10 million soldiers beyond his borders, more tanks than the allied + Germans combined and some serious grievences.

Why should he give up what he lost 10 million soldiers to achieve while the allies got everything?

 

Al-Jassas

 
Because the victory came at a hell of a cost and the Soviet military and economy was exhausted.
 
Stalin threw away the victory in WW II by pushing the envelope the way he did with the western Allies. Instead of turning the east into an armed camp he could have opened up Soviet society to western social and technological advances. Of course that would have meant a growing political freedom in the U.S.S.R. and an accounting for all the blood Stalin had spilled in the name of state control. The next purge would have seen him with a bullet in the head if that course had been taken.
 
 


Edited by DukeC - 04-Jun-2009 at 18:49
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 19:52
Originally posted by DukeC DukeC wrote:

Yes, but supposedly he was a part of the Social Democratic movement which was going to replace the oppressive imperialism of Russia with an enlightened workers paradise, it was the rationale behind forcing people to accept so many sacrifices.
 
 


did you really just said that...? DeadConfused
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 21:05
Originally posted by Temujin Temujin wrote:

Originally posted by DukeC DukeC wrote:

Yes, but supposedly he was a part of the Social Democratic movement which was going to replace the oppressive imperialism of Russia with an enlightened workers paradise, it was the rationale behind forcing people to accept so many sacrifices.
 
 


did you really just said that...? DeadConfused
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Maybe Duke meant the Sociopath Demonic movement.  Big smile
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WolfHound85 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 03:37
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

Originally posted by DukeC DukeC wrote:

There's no doubt that Stalin was a throwback to a more imperial time in Russia
Yeah, that whole, what? 5 years, between Imperial Russia and Stalin was such a gap.
Duke, the Cold War didn't start in 1945, it just paused while Hitler was a bigger threat. Poland is no different from Khiva in the eyes of the Great Players.

True Lenin's idea of the comitern was crushed when he could not get communism past Russia. So Stalin focused on only communism in Russia since Germany was a pretty big road block. Once Nazi Germany fell Stalin was able to easily spread communism around the world. Especially since the Soviet Union was a superpower.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 15:33
Originally posted by WolfHound85 WolfHound85 wrote:

Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

Originally posted by DukeC DukeC wrote:

There's no doubt that Stalin was a throwback to a more imperial time in Russia
Yeah, that whole, what? 5 years, between Imperial Russia and Stalin was such a gap.
Duke, the Cold War didn't start in 1945, it just paused while Hitler was a bigger threat. Poland is no different from Khiva in the eyes of the Great Players.

True Lenin's idea of the comitern was crushed when he could not get communism past Russia. So Stalin focused on only communism in Russia since Germany was a pretty big road block. Once Nazi Germany fell Stalin was able to easily spread communism around the world. Especially since the Soviet Union was a superpower.
 
Lenin did not live long enough after all the exertions of revolution and civil war (and war with Poland) to support communist movements away from Russia.  I disagree that "Stalin was able to easily spread communism around the world."  Only territory contiguous with Russia, or Russian supported China, was substantially affected, usually by brute force, not by attraction. 
 
Other than the abberation of Cuba (supported by the USSR for geopolitical reasons), communism has been a dismal failure in the Western hemisphere.  It found no takers in the Moslem world, being crushed in Malaya and Indonesia, and it's necessary industrial preconditions have never existed in Africa or India.
 
Perhaps Stalin was wise not to attempt extending the fantasy of the Comintern away from the "near abroad."  Perhaps he saw it as a bad job, or perhaps he just knew his neck depended upon iron control of Russia's resources and on domination of contiguous states.  That required all the effort Russia could muster. 
 
There isn't much difference between Stalin as a Russian leader (Georgian or not) and a semi-barbarian like Ivan the Terrible.  Both were murderers and both tried to extend Russian influence further to the West.  The former was the means; the latter was the end.  Compared to Stalin, the 19th century Czars were Victorian gentlemen.
 
    
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 16:06
Since this topic is the roots of the Cold War, let's be historians and go back to other times.  Maybe WolfHound with his Polish connection can appreciate this.
 
I.  Historically, Russia has looked upon Poland as a direct invasion route from a land that was non-orthodox, "liberal" and threatening.  As such, Poland had to be controlled, and that was a standing goal of Russian policy from the mid 18th century.  When Poland has not been under Russian domination, Russia has been in a relatively weakened position due to military defeat or internal upheaval.  The recent debate about Poland in NATO is a case in point.
 
In the early years of the 19th century, Russian armies were defeated in 1805 and 1807.  Revolutionary France (yeah, we know Nap was an emperor) created the Confederation of the Rhine - that included the Grand Duchy of Warsaw!!!  Russia was pushed back from the West, and 1812 occurred.  After Poland was reacquired, Russia was repeatedly concerned with revolts in Poland.
 
II.  During the First World War, Poland had been under occupation.  Afterwards, Soviet Russia attempted to subdue Poland in 1920, and having failed, it left Poland vulnerable to Germany.  Again, Russia had been pushed back from it's defensive position in Poland.  Getting beyond the farce of the non-aggression pact, 1941 occurred.
 
There was no way Russia was not going to regain control of Poland....and of others.
 
Now, as Russia attempts to reconstitute itself, does anyone want to gamble on the future?  Of course we all understand it is not 1815 or 1945 anymore, but if you want roots, look for them.  The roots of the Cold War go back to the 16th and 17th century wars with the Swedes.
 
       


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 05-Jun-2009 at 16:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 17:50
Originally posted by Temujin Temujin wrote:

Originally posted by DukeC DukeC wrote:

Yes, but supposedly he was a part of the Social Democratic movement which was going to replace the oppressive imperialism of Russia with an enlightened workers paradise, it was the rationale behind forcing people to accept so many sacrifices.
 
 


did you really just said that...? DeadConfused
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The Bolsheviks were part of the Social Democratic party in Russia before they split with the Menshiviks. The Menshiviks were the moderates and were actually in the majority despite the names, most didn't do well in the coming years under their former compatriots.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 18:11
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

 
Maybe Duke meant the Sociopath Demonic movement.  Big smile
 
 
 
Yah, Stalin wasn't far from that. He was a mass murderer before he even came to power, I think it would have been like having Al Capone or someone along those lines becoming President in the U.S.


Edited by DukeC - 05-Jun-2009 at 18:15
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 21:23
Originally posted by DukeC DukeC wrote:

Instead of turning the east into an armed camp he could have opened up Soviet society to western social and technological advances.
 
Looks like you never heard of Russian technological advances. Shocked
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WolfHound85 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 01:22
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

Since this topic is the roots of the Cold War, let's be historians and go back to other times.  Maybe WolfHound with his Polish connection can appreciate this.
 
I.  Historically, Russia has looked upon Poland as a direct invasion route from a land that was non-orthodox, "liberal" and threatening.  As such, Poland had to be controlled, and that was a standing goal of Russian policy from the mid 18th century.  When Poland has not been under Russian domination, Russia has been in a relatively weakened position due to military defeat or internal upheaval.  The recent debate about Poland in NATO is a case in point.
 
In the early years of the 19th century, Russian armies were defeated in 1805 and 1807.  Revolutionary France (yeah, we know Nap was an emperor) created the Confederation of the Rhine - that included the Grand Duchy of Warsaw!!!  Russia was pushed back from the West, and 1812 occurred.  After Poland was reacquired, Russia was repeatedly concerned with revolts in Poland.
 
II.  During the First World War, Poland had been under occupation.  Afterwards, Soviet Russia attempted to subdue Poland in 1920, and having failed, it left Poland vulnerable to Germany.  Again, Russia had been pushed back from it's defensive position in Poland.  Getting beyond the farce of the non-aggression pact, 1941 occurred.
 
There was no way Russia was not going to regain control of Poland....and of others.
 
Now, as Russia attempts to reconstitute itself, does anyone want to gamble on the future?  Of course we all understand it is not 1815 or 1945 anymore, but if you want roots, look for them.  The roots of the Cold War go back to the 16th and 17th century wars with the Swedes.
 
       

True in fact the dreams of a comitern by Lenin was in fact destroyed by Poland since the miracle at the battle of Warsaw. Poland was able to push back the the bolsheviks and acquire more land which was seen as bad in the international community. Since this is the cold war and my knowledge of Polish history from the partitions and congress of Vienna is limited, I see the roots of the cold war starting with the red revolution in Russia. Again the Bolsheviks wanted to take communism internationally but since Jozef  pilsudski was able to halt the advancing bolsheviks. This led to immediate stop of spreading communism throughout the world. Once Stalin was in power his whole idea was to obtain power and keep communism in Russia. Once World War Two broke out, Stalin saw his chance to extend communism first by taking land that was agreed to in the Moltov-Ribbentrop pact. Once Nazi Germany was wiped out Stalin could then have puppet states created in Europe in his sphere of influence. Although communism did not reach globally as he wanted it did nonetheless still dominate politics in most regions of the world for 40+ years.


Russia was strong after World War Two a lot stronger than Imperial Russia which hardly won any wars under the Czars. However Poland was weaker and Russia easily dominated Poland, Belorussia, and Ukraine. Also Russia always had plans to dominate it's neighbors I guess that is why Grandma never tells me to trust the Russians. But on a side note I am American(with Polish heritage) I am just going to Poland to study for my masters :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Majkes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 08:01
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

 
In the early years of the 19th century, Russian armies were defeated in 1805 and 1807.  Revolutionary France (yeah, we know Nap was an emperor) created the Confederation of the Rhine - that included the Grand Duchy of Warsaw!!!  Russia was pushed back from the West, and 1812 occurred.  After Poland was reacquired, Russia was repeatedly concerned with revolts in Poland.   
 
Grand Duchy of Warsaw was never part of Confederation of the Rhine though it was strongly connected. King of Saxonia was also Duke of Grand Duchy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Majkes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 08:04
Originally posted by WolfHound85 WolfHound85 wrote:

[QUOTE=pikeshot1600]
Russia was strong after World War Two a lot stronger than Imperial Russia which hardly won any wars under the Czars. However Poland was weaker and Russia easily dominated Poland, Belorussia, and Ukraine. Also Russia always had plans to dominate it's neighbors I guess that is why Grandma never tells me to trust the Russians. But on a side note I am American(with Polish heritage) I am just going to Poland to study for my masters :)
 
Hello Wolfhound, Russia under Tzars won many wars. Let's just mention wars with Sweden, Turkey and last but not least Napoleonic wars.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 15:29
Originally posted by Majkes Majkes wrote:

Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

 
In the early years of the 19th century, Russian armies were defeated in 1805 and 1807.  Revolutionary France (yeah, we know Nap was an emperor) created the Confederation of the Rhine - that included the Grand Duchy of Warsaw!!!  Russia was pushed back from the West, and 1812 occurred.  After Poland was reacquired, Russia was repeatedly concerned with revolts in Poland.   
 
Grand Duchy of Warsaw was never part of Confederation of the Rhine though it was strongly connected. King of Saxonia was also Duke of Grand Duchy.
 
Well, as a technicality, I can agree, but if Saxony is part of the Confederation, and Poland is in personal union by the position of the king of Saxony, how is Poland not "Confederation territory?"  Wink   As policy, and to keep them quiet, Bonaparte left the "old princes" of Germany (Bavaria, Saxony, etc.) sovereign in their own territories, but Poland was a different matter.  
 
Of course, you understand Bonaparte drew resources and large numbers of troops from Poland, and that this area had been viewed as a key region for the eventual donations of land to the emperor's military support - support he needed to legitimize and retain power.  The dynastic revolution was that Bonaparte's relatives became kings and the aristocratic revolution was that the new aristocracy (marshals; generals) needed estates from new territory.  It did not go as planned, but that was part of the intent.
 
Anyway, to the point of the matter, Poland was far too important as a French place d'armes in the rivalry with Russia that developed after Tilsit.  This was little different than the position of Poland as a forward deployment for the Czars after Vienna - or than it had been before, in the 18th century. 
 
It is also analogous to the Position of Poland after WW II.  It was again de facto a part of the Russian empire (with a Red Czar).  Poland was as much a part of Russia's cordon as the Grand Duchy of Warsaw was a part of France's cordon.  Russia sees NATO influence in Poland as a potential threat little different than French influence in the Grand Duchy.  Saying the Gr. D. was not "in" the Confederation of the Rhine is similar to saying Poland was an independent state in 1950.
 
       
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