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Russia's Cold War

Russia's Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall

Jonathan Haslam
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 512
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  • Book Info
    Russia's Cold War
    Book Description:

    The phrase "Cold War" was coined by George Orwell in 1945 to describe the impact of the atomic bomb on world politics: "We may be heading not for a general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity." The Soviet Union, he wrote, was "at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of 'cold war' with its neighbors." But as a leading historian of Soviet foreign policy, Jonathan Haslam, makes clear in this groundbreaking book, the epoch was anything but stable, with constant wars, near-wars, and political upheavals on both sides.

    Whereas the Western perspective on the Cold War has been well documented by journalists and historians, the Soviet side has remained for the most part shrouded in secrecy-until now. Drawing on a vast range of recently released archives in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and Eastern Europe,Russia's Cold Waroffers a thorough and fascinating analysis of East-West relations from 1917 to 1989.

    Far more than merely a straightforward history of the Cold War, this book presents the first account of politics and decision making at the highest levels of Soviet power: how Soviet leaders saw political and military events, what they were trying to accomplish, their miscalculations, and the ways they took advantage of Western ignorance.Russia's Cold Warfills a significant gap in our understanding of the most important geopolitical rivalry of the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16853-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. 1 Underlying Antagonisms
    (pp. 1-28)

    The Cold War did not, of course, burst in suddenly onto an entirely harmonious world. But there was something peculiar about it—and not merely the fact that nuclear weapons deterred open warfare between Superpowers. The conflict had deep-seated ideological foundations that outlasted leaders who differed in the degree of attachment to fundamental principle in the conduct of foreign policy. On the grand scale of history the Cold War stemmed directly from a thoroughgoing revolt against Western values established since the Enlightenment, a wholesale rejection of an entire way of life and its economic underpinnings increasingly dominant since the seventeenth...

  6. 2 Ideology Triumphant
    (pp. 29-76)

    The bleak contrast between glowing public affirmations of allied solidarity and the growing mistrust of Washington and London toward Moscow was deeply disturbing. The comforting assumption that, in the end, Stalin would be prepared to settle the peace of Europe along lines dictated by traditional reasons of state inevitably succumbed to ideological priorities resurgent in Moscow: nourished by Stalin’s sullen suspicions of American aims and ambitions, heightened by the euphoria of victory, and augmented by the unprecedented might of the Red Army—eleven million strong—to dictate events on the ground.

    On the eve of war Stalin had annihilated or...

  7. 3 Cominformity
    (pp. 77-111)

    It has been assumed by some that because Trotsky berated Stalin for betraying the revolution and that because Stalin butchered so many revolutionaries, he had no commitment to the Leninist heritage. Yet Trotsky himself expressed surprise and, indeed, satisfaction in 1940 that, in occupying territories obtained through the Nazi-Soviet pact, Stalin eviscerated the old order and installed the new on the Soviet model:

    In the regions which must become a component of the USSR, the Moscow government will take measures to expropriate the big property owners and to nationalize the means of production. Such action is more likely not because...

  8. 4 On the Offensive in Asia
    (pp. 112-132)

    Contained across Europe, by now disappointed in the new state of Israel, neutralized by Gandhi in India, and shut out of occupied Japan, Stalin inevitably sought egress elsewhere and found it where least expected: in China.

    China proved a major instance where the inclinations of the Russians were, for reasons of realpolitik, statist rather than revolutionary, but where events proved stronger than preferences. “They [the Russians] did not let us make a revolution: that was in 1945,” Mao recalled. “Stalin wanted to prevent China from making revolution, saying we should not have a civil war and should cooperate with Chiang...

  9. 5 Thaw
    (pp. 133-163)

    Stalin died on 5 March at 9:50 p.m., sprawled across a sofa bed in the big hall at the “near” datcha within the Moscow suburb of Kuntsevskaya, Volynskaya or, to the security organs, “Object 001.” He had lost consciousness four days earlier; it is reported that no one dared approach because of previous false alarms that had aroused his fury.¹ The doctors had finally arrived at 7:00 a.m. on 2 March. His condition was “extremely serious”: a brain hemorrhage on top of hypertension and general arteriosclerosis.² Survival appeared unlikely.

    If the Cold War could be attributed largely to the person...

  10. 6 Sudden Frost
    (pp. 164-174)

    The détente epitomized in the “spirit of Geneva” was severely circumscribed. Moscow exploited friction between capitalist countries—“wedge-driving” as it became known in NATO—while highlighting the need to relax international tension. Washington and Bonn argued against concessions on the grounds that détente was merely a pause convenient to the reinforcement of Soviet power in a continuing conflict. They saw the USSR as inherently weak at home and unsteady in Central and Eastern Europe. A reduction of international tension was thus not a benefit in its own right but a means to ending the Cold War. That “culminating point of...

  11. 7 Taking the World to the Brink
    (pp. 175-213)

    In the mid-seventies General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev reflected that the USSR had since Khrushchev conducted a consistent foreign policy that had won trust. “If we had taken this line from the very beginning then Adenauer would not have been able to hang on so long, and the whole process up to 1964 would have been better than that which we inherited. . . . With Cuba—[Marshal Sergei] Biryuzov [officer commanding Strategic Missiles Forces] said palm trees were there: ‘I can put the missiles under palms.’ But if you had seen what happened at the datcha in [Novo-] Ogarevo [just...

  12. 8 Détente
    (pp. 214-269)

    Khrushchev’s overthrow ushered in a colorless new regime led by First (later General)¹ Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, Chairman of the Council of Ministers Alexei Kosygin, and President Nikolai Podgorny. Primus inter pares, Brezhnev was initially uninterested in foreign policy.² Names appeared in alphabetic order rather than by rank. The leadership as a whole was thereafter ostentatiously collective: “In the Politburo there was . . . an unwritten rule: by all means have a discussion, but don’t poke your nose into the business of others. Each to his own.”³

    Behind this ostentatious display of collectivism, there lay “persistent disagreements” over economic priorities...

  13. 9 The Impact of Vietnam
    (pp. 270-294)

    The Third World was the sphere that held out the greatest hopes for progress against the West. In 1958 Khrushchev boasted of winning “the hearts of the people of these countries.”¹ Such naïveté wasted resources and bought Moscow little influence. And in October 1964 the Party roundly condemned Khrushchev for his ignorant and profligate approach. “One has to look at things realistically,” the indictment ran. “And the reality is that for hundreds of years the Americans, the French, the English, and the Germans held the dominant position in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. There they established their bastions—economic and...

  14. 10 Détente Fails
    (pp. 295-327)

    A comforting but unsupported assumption underpinning Washington’s policy of détente was that Moscow was becoming less revolutionary. CIA’s Special National Intelligence Estimate for July 1969 asserted that “nonideological considerations are playing an increasingly important role in the formulation of Soviet foreign policies. The USSR tends to behave more as a world Power than as the center of the world revolution. Thus the Soviets are inclined to establish international priorities in accordance with a more traditional view of Russian security interests and a more realistic view of Russian security interests and a more realistic view of the possibilities for expanding their...

  15. 11 The Reagan Presidency
    (pp. 328-363)

    A trough in the economic cycle, runaway inflation, and rising unemployment on the back of stratospheric energy prices, plus a stagnant stock market, all contributed to Carter’s political demise. But growing tension between the United States and the USSR, the storm in Europe over the SS-20, the abject failure of Carter to hold his own against fundamentalist Iran or contain the spread of revolution from Nicaragua, all ensured Reagan’s election in November 1980.

    On 17 January 1983 Reagan signed NSDD 75 setting the US government the task not only to contain but also “over time reverse Soviet expansionism” and to...

  16. 12 Down Comes the Wall
    (pp. 364-392)

    Hitherto Gorbachev had openly acknowledged neither the conventional military imbalance in Europe (including the occupation of Central/Eastern Europe) nor the ideological conflict (including aid to national liberation movements) as the root cause of the Cold War.

    Progress with respect to the ideological struggle came first. A fundamental reconsideration had occurred among Gorbachev’s inner circle that is ultimately attributable to the confluence of several causes: the Marshall Plan of the mind; the deep disillusion resulting from the years of stagnation under Brezhnev, particularly among the young; the impact of “Basket Three” at the Helsinki conference that the KGB so much dreaded;...

  17. Conclusions
    (pp. 393-400)

    The end of the Cold War took everyone by surprise. Not surprisingly, therefore, and despite a mass of publication, interpretations of the conflict remain diametrically opposed. Arguably the most important works are as mutually contradictory as ever. This should scarcely occasion surprise. The Cold War itself polarized opinion. Universities are not ivory towers, and political allegiance was not extinguished with the Soviet Union’s demise.

    The causes of the Cold War have always formed the main battlefield. Most recently one leading American historian has loaded the blame on the person of one man: “as long as Stalin was running the Soviet...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 401-488)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 489-508)
  20. Index
    (pp. 509-523)