The Russian revival

Are we comming closer to a new Cold War?  Tensions betwee NATO and Russia are a all high level since the late 80's and possibly as higher as the the Cuba missil crisis.

We can all be wise after the event – most of us anyway. However publicly making predictions or at least sharing your honest thoughts on the future direction of things is something many of our modern day politicians shirk from. (Plenty of opinion writers like to give it a go though.)

The same however cannot be said for the former Soviet Union Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov. Below is a speech he made in Paris on October 10th 1946, on the policy of ‘equal opportunity’ or the ‘open world’ economy that was beginning to take shape in the West.

Considering how things have panned out in the almost 70 years since he uttered these words, you would have to say he wasn’t that far off the mark about much of what he foresaw here. Of course, depending on where you’re coming from, this ‘equal opportunity’ that Molotov feared is either good or bad.

Like most things, it’s probably a mixture of both. Right now many of the ‘liberated’ former Soviet states are probably quite happy to be ‘in bed with’, so to speak, the USA rather than Russia. And as the old Cold War of the East versus the West appears to have found a little life once again, the thoughts of ‘Prophet’ Molotov are interesting to bear in mind; an insight to an unchanged Russian mentality it could be argued. History ‘on the blink’ you could call it, as Russia flexes its muscles somewhat more than it has been of late. Here are his musings:

“We know that the United States made a very great effort in this war, in defence of its own interests and of our common aims, for which we are all grateful to that country. But for all that, it cannot be said that the United States is one of those states which suffered grave material damage in the Second World War, which were ruined and weakened in this war. We are glad that this did not happen to our ally, although we ourselves have had to go through trying times, the consequences of which will take us long years to heal.

Now that you know the facts, place side-by-side Romania, enfeebled by the war, or Yugoslavia, ruined by the German and Italian fascists, and the United States of America, whose wealth has grown immensely during the war, and you will clearly see what the implementation of the principle of ‘equal opportunity’ would mean in practice. Imagine, under these circumstances, that in this same Romania or Yugoslavia or in some other war-weakened state, you have this so-called ‘equal opportunity’ for, let us say, American capital – that is, the opportunity for it to penetrate unhindered into Romanian industry or Yugoslav industry and so forth: what, then, will remain of Romania’s national industry, or of Yugoslavia’s national industry?

It is surely not so difficult to understand that if American capital were given a free hand in the small states ruined and enfeebled by the war, as the advocates of the principle of ‘equal opportunity’ desire, American capital would buy up the local industries, appropriate the more attractive Romanian, Yugoslav and all other enterprises and would become the master in these small states. Given such a situation, we would probably live to see the day when in your own country, on switching on the radio, you would be hearing not so much your own language as one American gramophone record after another or some piece or other of British propaganda. The time might come when in your own country, on going to the cinema, you would be seeing American films sold for foreign consumption – and not those of the better quality, but those manufactured in greater quantity and circulated and imposed abroad by the agents of powerful firms and cinema companies which have grown particularly rich during the war.

Can anyone really fail to see that if, as a result of the application of the principle of so-called ‘equal opportunity’ in small states, unrestricted competition begins between the home products and the products poured out by the factories of the United States or Great Britain, nothing will remain of the sovereignty and independence of these states, especially considering the post-war conditions? Is it not clear that such unrestricted application of the principal of ‘equal opportunity’ in the given conditions would in practice mean the veritable economic enslavement of the small states and their subjugation to the rule and arbitrary will of strong and enriched foreign firms, banks and industrial companies? Is it not clear that if such ‘principles of equality’ are applied in international economic life, the smaller states will be governed by the orders, injunctions and instructions of strong foreign trusts and monopolies? Was this what we fought for when we battled the fascist invaders, the Hitlerite and Japanese imperialists?”

Well there you go – a visionary or what, eh? But it must be said that many of these smaller states mentioned are going to be influenced by some other power greater than what is within their borders. Is it a case of the ‘the West is the best’? Russia begs, nay postures, to differ.

Speech taken from: McCauley, Martin, ‘Seminar Studies in History – The Origins of the Cold War’, PP 119-121, Longman, New York, 1990.

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