jeudi 31 octobre 2013

Soviet Detente Gave A Cold War Author Many Literary Plots For Decades

By Marsha Klein

Following the end of World War II a deep diplomatic and political rift developed between the Soviet Union on the one hand and the USA plus western countries on the other. The rift became known as the Cold War. It lasted about fifty years. Political drama and defections, diplomatic intrigue, ambassadorial trickery, international spying and military tensions riddled the period, providing an abundance of material for writers of fiction or history. A writer who concentrates on this period is known as a Cold War author.

During the Second World War, the Soviets fought as allies with the west against Germany and Nazism. Despite that cooperation, the Soviet relationship with western countries was brittle, even at that time, corroded by ideological mistrust. Communism and capitalism are not easy companions.

Within the context of the Second World War, the Soviet Union did maintain a reasonably constant dialogue with its western allies in order to defeat Nazism. But once the war ended, the Soviet Union withdrew within itself. It almost totally cut-off dialogue with, and diplomatically distanced itself from the West.

Within a year of WWII ending, the Soviets had already begun to pull away from western countries. Sir Winston Churchill criticized this detente in a speech he presented at the Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, during March 1946. He described Soviet isolationism as having pulled a large Iron Curtain down upon Europe, dividing West from East.

Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, as well as Romania were all subject to Soviet influence or control. In effect, they were nation satellites of the Soviet. The communist parties in these countries were significantly funded and otherwise bolstered by the Soviets. Churchill noted that the power and preeminence of these parties were raised well beyond their underlying support base and that police governments seeking totalitarian control. This Soviet sphere of influence was seen as expansionist and served to destabilize peace in Europe and the West more generally.

Similarly, continual Soviet rebuffs towards establishing lasting friendship with western powers and its insistence instead on a policy of detente created deep doubts and uncertainties for many countries in Europe and around the world. Nobody knows, Churchill said, if Soviet Russia and its global communist organization has expansionist ambitions and, if so, what the limits of those ambitions were, if any.

Churchill titled that speech Sinews of Peace. It is now commonly referred to as the Iron Curtain speech. Many political analysts consider it to be one of the opening shots marking the start of the Cold War. The Churchillian term "Iron curtain" quickly entered into the official vocabulary.

Throughout that period of detente, limited data about its economic wealth and military capability was available to the West. Analysts such as the US Central Intelligence Agency badly over-estimated the power of the Soviet Union. That misunderstanding persisted for fifty years until Soviet President Gorbachev ushered in progressive policies known as Perestroika. Those policies dismantled many internal bureaucratic constraints, introduced market-driven mechanisms in the Soviet economy and opened it to the forces of international competition. Perestroika also ended the intense Soviet diplomatic detente with the West that for several decades provided rich literary fodder for a Cold War author.

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