Volume #20 - 693.|
EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST
Memorandum by European Division|
November 1st, 1954|
RELATIONS WITH THE U.S.S.R.: A RE-ASSESSMENT 30 |
A re-examination of our relations with the U.S.S.R. is a task which should be undertaken periodically. To my knowledge it has not been done for some time and as a result we tend to accept more or less automatically some of the basic premises with which our J.I.C., NATO and other papers now seem to start. A re-assessment at the present time is particularly important because of a number of developments which are changing the political and strategic picture.
2. The first is the death of Stalin and the events inside the U.S.S.R. The removal of the man who completely dominated Soviet policy for almost thirty years is bound to have an effect on the internal and external affairs of his country. And the economic and political events since then inside the U.S.S.R. justify the view that the advent of the new leaders has made the situation much more fluid than previously.
3. The progress made by the U.S.S.R. in nuclear weapons means that the superiority previously held by the West in this field is rapidly disappearing. The U.S.S.R. also has developed the long-range bombers capable of delivering hydrogen and atomic bombs, and may be in the process of producing atomic tactical weapons. Equality, or near equality, in the fields of mass destruction weapons is therefore within sight.
4. In this connection the information concerning the extent of destruction caused by megaton weapons, which became available to the Russians in the summer of 1953, and the realisation that either side is, or shortly will be, in a position with a few bombs and a few planes to destroy vast areas of the other country, undoubtedly is a factor which the Russians, as well as ourselves, must be taking into serious consideration.
5. Finally we must admit that to all practical purposes we have reached a complete impasse in our relations with the U.S.S.R. We are not prepared to compromise on any of our basic positions and the Russians have made it clear that they will not cede any ground they consider essential to them. Any impasse requires a pause and an attempt to find out how it can be over-come.
6. This study proceeds on the assumption that the conclusion that there is no way to solve this impasse save by an eventual recourse to arms is unwarranted. It attempts to buttress this assumption by facts and arguments, and then examines the nature of the alternative solution, living with the Russians on a more or less peaceful basis.
7. Many of the arguments and conclusions are controversial. While I believe they are soundly based I am not dogmatic about them. They are advanced with the hope of stimulating discussion.
II. Soviet Foreign Policy from 1945 to Stalin's Death
8. It is hardly profitable to re-examine in too great detail the course of Soviet relations with the West from the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences up to the death of Stalin. There is little doubt that the Soviet authorities never accepted in good faith the wartime alliance. The latter was for them a very necessary and useful expedient, but Stalin saw from the beginning that there were too many differences between the two systems for them to work together after the war if Soviet aims in Europe were to be pressed.
9. Though the Soviet leaders may therefore use the argument for propaganda purposes that the West betrayed the U.S.S.R. by reneging on the terms of Potsdam and Yalta, particularly with regard to the question of an implied division of Central and Eastern Europe into spheres of interest, the Soviet leaders themselves are probably well aware of the facts.
10. Implicit in the manner by which the U.S.S.R. decided to play its cards after the war were many very great risks. Given the Soviet interpretation of the world situation at the war's end, however, they may not have seemed so great. In particular, it must have appeared to Moscow that there was no serious alternative.
11. The first important division of opinion came over the nature of the governments in the Eastern European countries, occupied by or directly under the influence of the U.S.S.R. Every major attack on Russia in the past had come from advanced bases held by aggressor countries in Eastern Europe. It was now possible for the first time in history for a Russian Government to assure itself of régimes in these countries sympathetic to Moscow. The Western Governments had, according to Soviet thinking, no direct political or economic interests in Eastern Europe, and were, furthermore, not in military occupation or in any position to enforce their views. It was also an opportunity which might never be repeated to extend the direct political control of the U.S.S.R. and the area of Communism.
12. None of this, according to Soviet thinking, could have been achieved without establishing out and out Communist régimes in the countries of Eastern Europe. If this had to be done at the risk of the Western alliance, then Moscow probably calculated that it was worth it, particularly as they could scarcely have believed that the revulsion of feeling in the West was going to be so strong. Since the Soviet leaders did not consider countries like Poland, Bulgaria and Roumania could be of prime importance to the United States, they undoubtedly then argued that their calculations were right in assuming that it was essential and not too risky to drive all Western influence out of the Balkans.
13. From this it was an easy step to attempt further easy expansion in Iran and Greece, areas of strategic importance to the Russians and ones in which they clearly thought they might be able to get away with quick and determined action. In Greece events soon reached a point where it was difficult for the Russians to withdraw support without losing face; and they only did so when the Yugoslav defection made it clearly unprofitable to continue the Civil War. In Iran, they withdrew because they were probably not yet ready for a show-down when confronted not only by united Allied opposition, but by a critical reaction from nearly all the outside world.
14. The Soviet authorities were surprised and, possibly for the first time, a little frightened by the U.S. reaction - the proclamation of the Truman doctrine, the introduction of Marshall aid, and the refusal to accept Soviet style peace treaties for Germany and Austria. The first brought direct U.S. influence to the gates of the Soviet Balkan territory. The second promised to end the hope of Communist régimes in Western Europe. And the third meant uncertainty in Central Europe and the unwelcome continuation of U.S. military interest in Europe.
15. George Kennan has argued that the Soviet reaction to this - the Czech coup d'état and the Berlin blockade - was primarily defensive. The Czech internal situation had been ripe for a Communist coup for at least six months before it took place. But the Russians only put it into action when they felt they were losing the initiative in Europe. They could not tolerate "enemy" pockets in Eastern Europe in these circumstances and so tried to tidy up the situation in Czechoslovakia and Berlin.
16. Mr. Kennan goes on to claim that there was nothing aggressive intended by the Soviet Government in these actions and that they were therefore astounded and puzzled that the Western reaction should have taken the form of military preparation for an alleged military threat, particularly since this involved the West diverting resources from the economic aid programme which up to then had proved so singularly successful. Since, he claims, Moscow had never considered attempting to expand the area of Communism by warlike means, it therefore concluded that the Western moves had some particularly sinister connotation, - the first step in the preparation of a military alliance aimed at destroying the U.S.S.R.
17. From this basic failure to understand motives behind actions on either side, other events have led on to increase mutual suspicion, particularly the success of the Communists in China, the Korean War, and the failure to reach any kind of agreement over Germany and Austria.
III. The Re-examination of Foreign Policy in Moscow After the Death of Stalin
18. It seems clear that one of the first problems tackled by the Soviet Government after the death of the vozhd was a reexamination of Soviet foreign policy. Molotov went back immediately to direct administration of the Foreign Ministry and a large number of personnel changes were made. The violent anti-American campaign was dropped and an attempt was made to behave towards the West in a slightly more civilized manner, and in a way to end the self-imposed diplomatic isolation from the rest of the world.
19. There was a very definite jettisoning of many of Stalin's policies in internal affairs and this must have had an effect on foreign policy. If, in fact, the main aides of Stalin had apparently been opposed for so long to so much of his internal programme, it is not illogical to speculate that they also disagreed with many features of his foreign policy.
20. The aspects of this policy which must have aroused opposition in the Kremlin were probably those which had created the more obviously undesirable reactions in the United States. The basic Soviet assumption of 1945 concerning Eastern Europe could hardly have been questioned. But its application subsequently in a way that, in retrospect, could scarcely have failed to antagonize and alarm the West, must have been the object of criticism. In particular, the Greek civil war, the creation of the Cominform, the Berlin blockade and the Czech coup d'état were gambles much too risky if the Soviet Union had hoped for an extension of Communism in Europe without war.
21. Stalin admitted (in the published correspondence with the Yugoslav Communist Party prior to the June, 1948, split) that a Communist revolution was not within the bounds of possibility in France and Italy because the Red Army was not in a position to intervene physically. In other words, he did not conceive of the establishment of Communist régimes in those countries at an early date. The Czech coup d'état and the Berlin blockade do not seem to have been planned as steps towards a further expansion of Soviet power in Europe, and we can conclude therefore that they were primarily defensive and intended to tidy up a potentially dangerous situation for the Soviet position in Eastern Europe.
22. Nevertheless, many Russians must have questioned the wisdom of actions, two of which failed, which had relatively minor aims, but which had the end effect of postponing indefinitely the chance of further Soviet expansion in Europe. More important, they resulted in alerting the West, and particularly the United States, to the true nature of the Soviet régime, and the creation of an alliance which constituted a real military threat to the U.S.S.R.
23. Two other events in Europe constituted an important set-back to the Soviet Union - the serious miscalculations leading to the break with Tito, and the postponement of the U.S. economic depression, which was such an important factor in Soviet calculations. That the former is now considered a mistake can be seen from the post-Stalin attempts to restore more or less normal diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia, though things had clearly gone too far for the Russians to back down completely.
24. Again, as regards the failure of the United States to follow the expected pattern, produce an economic crisis and, beset by its own internal difficulties, withdraw within itself, there must have been much soul-searching in Moscow. The disgrace of Varga for predicting that the nature of capitalism had so changed that a depression was not inevitable, was at least partly corrected last fall. But that does not necessarily mean that the Soviet leaders admit that they were wrong. The depression was postponed, they argued, by the adoption of such measures as wide-spread economic assistance to other weaker capitalist governments, and then the creation of an alleged war threat to justify re-armament - in Marxist terms, traditional methods. But it must be added that in Soviet long-run thinking the armament burden is certainly considered as acerbating the crisis of capitalism.
25. The Russians also miscalculated about the strength of the Communist parties in Western Europe (and this resulted in a number of tactical blunders, such as the withdrawal of the Communists in coalition governments in France and Italy, the call to strike and so on); about the relative strength of the capitalist and communist economies; and about the ability of erstwhile capitalist enemies to work together.
26. Another miscalculation which, however, in the end led to the biggest single Soviet gain since the war, was the failure to recognize the strength of Chinese Communism. Stalin apparently calculated that Mao Tse-tung would only be able to control a part of China and there made his plans on that basis. Some United States experts in Far Eastern affairs argue that the Soviet Government would have preferred a divided China. The Russians knew that Nationalist China was sufficiently corrupt and inefficient that it would eventually fall into Communist hands; but in the post-war years, they were too preoccupied with European and internal problems to wish to extend rapidly the area of Communism in Asia. It is also suggested that Stalin would have preferred a divided China so that he could more completely control the Communist half.
27. But the complete victory of Mao in China without involving the U.S.S.R. immediately in major disputes with the capitalist powers, though a surprise, must on the whole have been a satisfying one, and it was possibly this over-confidence which led to the greatest miscalculation. The attack on Korea was undoubtedly intended to take advantage of a local situation. From Moscow the advantages to be gained from the expulsion of the last remnants of a non-Soviet régime from the North Asian mainland far out-weighed what must have appeared to be the minor risks involved.
28. The fact that the gamble was considered a mistake after U.S. intervention can be seen from the early action taken by the Malenkov Government to end the hostilities in the Spring of 1953. Before that Stalin had probably stubbornly refused to admit he was wrong and therefore prolonged the armistice negotiations for almost two years.
29. To sum up, Soviet actions since the death of Stalin indicate that there had been considerable doubt in the leadership about the advisability of many of the tactics of Soviet foreign policy since 1945, though this probably did not include the basic decision to consolidate their position in Eastern Europe even at the expense of the wartime alliance. It seems likely that the Soviet leaders did not contemplate recourse to war to further these policies.
30. The maintenance after the end of hostilities of what seemed to the West alarmingly large forces was considered necessary by the Russians because first, it would have been dangerous for them internally to demobilize very quickly; second, the Red Army was used frequently for post-war reconstruction projects; third, the situation in Eastern Europe required fairly large forces on the spot; fourth, it is an old Russian tradition to maintain large standing armies as part of foreign policy; and fifth, they considered that a large standing army was required to offset Western superiority in air power and atomic weapons.
IV. Nuclear Weapons and Soviet Strategy
31. Inextricably involved in all aspects of Soviet strategy from 1945 to the present time is the question of the Soviet estimate of the importance of nuclear weapons in the military and political situation. In spite of the fact that the Russians publicly insisted that the Japanese surrendered because of their defeat by the Russian armies in Manchuria, there can be little doubt that they were well aware that the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the major factors in the victory of the Allies. Since then the bomb has undoubtedly had an important place in their thinking.
32. The first Soviet reaction was probably to add another argument in favour of maintaining large standing armies to offset the United States advantage in atomic weapons. The second was to corner as many German scientists as they could and set them to work with their own workers to catch up with the Americans as quickly as possible. This meant an additional diversion of already over-strained man-power and equipment from the long neglected fields of consumer goods.
33. The traditional Russian inferiority complex towards the West was certainly increased as a result of fear of the atomic bomb, and this may well have played a certain role in Soviet reactions to Western moves. The progress they made in developing the bomb, and presumably stock-piling them, must gradually have increased their feeling of confidence until the United States explosion of the hydrogen bomb, and their own explosion in August, 1953, led to the realisation that each side had under its control a weapon of such vast destructive power that all previous ideas on warfare might have to be revised.
34. It is impossible to tell what role this information has played in shaping Soviet foreign policy in the past year and a half. It could scarcely go ignored, as it has not gone ignored here. On the other hand, no Western policy has yet been modified in any important way because of this information, and, therefore, we do not need to conclude that the modifications in Soviet policy which have taken place are necessarily the result of the megaton bomb.
35. It would be unrealistic not to assume, however, that this information has helped to reinforce the trend already noticeable immediately after Stalin's death towards a policy of lowering international tension. Mutual self-destruction has certainly never been a Soviet aim. We can even speculate if this horrifying information may not have led some Soviet leaders to wonder if it did not tend to make nonsense of the whole Marxist theory of human development.
V. "Peace at No Price"
36. Since Stalin died the process of revising Soviet foreign policy has taken the shape of a fairly clear attempt to reduce international tension and to put relations with the rest of the world on a slightly more normal basis, without, at the same time, making any great sacrifice. Mr. Bohlen has called it "peace at no price".
37. The efforts made by the U.S.S.R. to reduce tension, or at least not to aggravate it further, have not in fact entailed the giving up of anything substantial. On the other hand, it seems possible that in April and May, 1953, the Soviet authorities were seriously exploring ways and means of establishing more peaceful relations with the West, specifically in the two areas of greatest tension - Korea and Germany. They did succeed in stopping the fighting in the first, but this was an action which required simply the abandonment of a propaganda position which had already in any case begun to wear pretty thin.
38. It is the opinion of most Soviet experts that the Russians were contemplating at that time the possibility of an eventual withdrawal from their zone of Germany. East Germany was obviously not a very successful political experiment for the Russians and it was beginning to become an economic liability as well. The continued division of Germany and the anomalous position of Berlin presented the greatest danger of friction with the West and some Soviet sacrifice might have been worthwhile, if it could have achieved the withdrawal of allied forces from Western Germany and eventually of the United States from Europe.
39. The Russians could only have contemplated a withdrawal from Eastern Germany if it were orderly and did not involve the abandonment of a fully Sovietised régime. This may, therefore, be the explanation for the "liberalising" measures taken in May and early June in East Germany, measures intended in part to make the Pieck Government more popular, in part to prepare for de-Sovietisation. How far this could really have been carried is difficult to say. The revolt of June 17 effectively put an end to any prospect of a Soviet withdrawal since it revealed to the Russians the extent of German opposition to the Communist régime. Free elections would have meant an anti-Soviet landslide. The Marxistly impossible would have taken place; the workers in a workers' state would have rebelled against the dictatorship of the proletariat. A continuation of this process was impossible for the Russians not only because it would have endangered their position in all of Eastern Europe, but would have had a disastrous effect in practice on their prestige with the Communists throughout the non-Soviet world.
40. June 17 was the turning point and it must have convinced the Russians that no concessions in East Germany could be contemplated. When at the same time the Western powers made it clear that they had no intention of making any compromise over Germany, it was obvious that there was nothing further to be gained by discussing the problem. Our political mistake was not to accept the Soviet protestations at their face value in the Spring of 1953 and explore at the highest level the possibilities of lowering tension. At the best, we might have found the Russians in a mood to compromise. At the worst we would have caught them completely off-balance before they were sure of their position internally or externally.
41. The second look which the Soviet leaders must have given their foreign policies after the June revolt was probably made with the question of military security more immediately in view than the previous assessment. This conclusion is based not only on the lessons of June 17 but on the fact that the Soviet General Staff seems to have had a greater influence on Soviet policy since the arrest of Beria than previously. This would mean that military considerations would take primacy over political ones. At the Berlin Conference that meant in fact that the Soviet Union was not prepared to withdraw from its advanced strategic bases in Germany and Austria unless the political gains would be compensated for militarily.
42. Looked at in another way it really means that while the Soviet leaders may have accepted the premise that war was not inevitable, that a relaxation of tension was both desirable and possible, yet in practice they acted in a contrary spirit. It is this confusion in Moscow which has helped to make the pattern of Soviet diplomacy seem inconsistent and often contradictory.
VI. The Military Approach and its Dangers
43. Inevitably when the military approach starts to take precedence it becomes itself a factor in the situation. As in the West so in Moscow an increasing estimate of the danger of war eventually breaking out could hardly have failed to affect Soviet political and economic planning.
44. George Kennan has put this dilemma in very good perspective. "The Soviet apparatus of power", he wrote from Moscow in September 1952, "while free of pressures of a parliamentary system and a free press, is nevertheless not wholly immune to the operation of that law of political affairs by which military preparations attain a momentum of their own and make more likely the very thing that they are supposed - by the invariable claim of all governments - to deter and prevent. For every government, the calculations of probabilities with respect to military conflict set up something in the nature of magnetic fields, which in turn affect behaviour. To believe in the likelihood of war, whether rightly or wrongly, means in some degree to behave in a manner that will actually enhance that likelihood, insofar as it implies the neglect of alternative courses and some degree of commitment to the requirements of the course you would take if you knew definitely that war would come . . . Soviet policy, in other words, must also have been to some extent drawn into the magnetic field of belief in a relatively greater probability of war. And since what you do to be prepared for a war is very often the enemy of what you would do if you wished to avoid it, Soviet ability to pursue policies designed to avoid a future war must have suffered accordingly."
45. This does not necessarily mean that the Soviet leaders decided after careful deliberation that they must plan on the assumption that war was inevitable. They no doubt think it possible that it may come about because of action taken by the Western bloc, and this in itself would require certain actions on the part of the U.S.S.R. to prepare against this eventually. But I do not think they are planning politically on the assumption either of an aggressive war launched by Moscow, or that it will be impossible to avoid the clash with the West. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the Soviet estimate that the two blocs may stumble into war has increased since the advent to power of the Republican régime in the United States.
46. The difficulty is that the more we in the West talk about the inevitability of war with the U.S.S.R., the greater the pressure becomes in the Soviet Union to take the necessary precautions against this eventuality. They may believe they are skilful enough to avoid a war provided the other side is not dead set on it. But if both sides become convinced that the clash is inevitable, then the very weight of their convictions would help to bring on the very thing they wished to avoid, and it thus becomes a factor in itself.
VII. The Soviet Attitude Towards War
47. There are several arguments to support the contention that the Soviet leaders do not want a "hot" war, and do not believe in the inevitability of a clash between the two blocs. The "cold war" obviously suited Stalin very well. It supported the picture he painted to the Soviet people of a menacing capitalist world against which it was necessary to maintain large armies and devote the vast bulk of Soviet energies to heavy industry and armaments. It maintained a sense of urgency and justified the existence of secrecy and force in internal affairs. But at the same time it did not require that too much actual power be delegated to the generals, a situation which Stalin found fraught with potential danger in World War II. The relative rise in influence of the generals in the Party and of the General Staff in policy decisions since the death of Stalin must be looked on in many Party circles with apprehension. Its concomitant would be a reluctance for the Party forces to take decisions tending to concentrate more power in the Army at a time when the Secret Police has been demoralised and weakened.
48. The Soviet leaders probably have sufficient confidence in their ability to exploit the developing political situation, if a war can be averted. They must also still be relatively sure that in the long run they will be able to gain their principal aims without having recourse to war.
49. The internal political and economic situation in the U.S.S.R. and in the European satellites is not so good as to encourage the Soviet leaders to choose war as a solution of their problems with the West, problems which in any case they do not consider as requiring such early solutions as do we in the West who are more impatient to see a traditional form of peace restored to the world. I shall return later in more detail to the effect of the Soviet internal situation on foreign policy.
50. Finally, there is the question of the traditional Russian attitude to war and the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist interpretation of "just" wars, both of which are of considerable importance in calculating the Soviet position.
51. Russia has never had a glorious military tradition such as most countries of continental Europe. The Tsars always kept up what seemed an inordinately large standing army and the inference was often drawn by other European powers that the Russians were contemplating aggression against their neighbours. But it was usually forgotten that Russia was an autocratic and antiquated state that by its very nature required a large standing army for internal reasons, and that it extended over a territory vastly greater than that of any other major power. The Tsars were not averse to using the fact of a large standing army to help their foreign policies but they never actually used their apparent military preponderance to launch an aggressive adventure.
52. In addition to this essentially defensive concept of the role of their armed forces, the Russians never developed any focus for a strong military tradition. In Tsarist times there was never an officer corps comparable to that of Germany or Japan, and the generals did not exercise any independent and decisive role on Russian policy.
53. If this were true in Tsarist times it is just as true to-day, though possibly for different reasons. Apart from the Bolshevik invasion of Poland during the Civil War, which was an integral part of those disordered times, the only overtly aggressive military moves by the Russians have been in the invasions of the Baltic States and Eastern Poland in September 1939, and the winter war of 1939-40 against Finland. In both cases the Soviet Government claimed they were taking purely preventive measures to deny to a potential enemy bases for an eventual attack against the U.S.S.R.
54. The German concept of an officer corps does not exist in the U.S.S.R. today though it is possible that a Soviet counterpart was being built up in the thirties before Stalin destroyed the then existing General Staff. But it is difficult to think of the present group of senior Soviet military officers as an independent force in Soviet affairs. A Soviet general considers himself primarily as a servant of the Soviet state who happens because of special qualifications to be serving it in the Army rather than as the manager of a factory, or in some other capacity. His loyalties are to the Communist Party, not to his fellow officers. There may be exceptions, of course, but this is the way the majority probably feel. And in case they don't, the Army is so riddled with spies and spies on the spies, it could never function as an independent collectivity.
55. The question of the Marxist interpretation of war is one which has perhaps been most neglected. It is nevertheless an important factor in Soviet considerations on this subject.
56. In the western world for the great majority of the people peace is the norm and war is a deviation from this ideal state which must, if at all possible, be maintained. The Marxist concept of war and peace is, however, quite different. In Marxist ideology the cause of war lies in the mere existence of capitalist society, or rather the division of society into exploiting and exploited classes. War is not an exception or contradiction to the principles of capitalism but the direct results of it. The abolition of wars can only come as the result of the destruction of capitalism. War and peace are therefore simply different phases of one single economic and political process. This in itself gives some indication why the "cold" war seems a more acceptable phenomenon to the Russians than to ourselves.
57. The communists distinguish between "unjust" wars ("wars of conquest, waged to conquer and enslave foreign countries and foreign nations") and "just" wars ("wars that are not wars of conquest but wars of liberation, waged to defend the people from foreign attack and from attempts to enslave them, or to liberate the people from capitalist slavery or, lastly, to liberate colonies and dependent countries from the yoke of imperialism").
58. This does not mean, however, that the U.S.S.R. is obliged to rush to the assistance of any foreign revolutionary movement. The conditions under which help would be extended to a communist revolt in another country have been carefully spelled out. In the first place the revolt must in itself have a good chance of succeeding and, more important, Soviet intervention must not imperil the security of the U.S.S.R. itself.
59. In fact running through all the Leninist-Stalinist writings on this subject is the theme that the primary consideration in deciding on war or peace, or indeed any major question of foreign policy, is the manner in which it is going to affect the citadel of communism, and foreign communists are constantly reminded that they will have to sacrifice their own local hopes to this major consideration, since, without the U.S.S.R., communism as a whole would be quickly eliminated.
60. Communist doctrine has also firmly advocated measures to prevent either wars between imperialist powers, or by imperialist powers against the U.S.S.R. While the former tend to weaken the capitalist world they tend to involve the Soviet Union at moments not of its own choosing. An outright attack on the U.S.S.R. is clearly something the Soviet leaders must try to avoid, but not by any concessions, particularly territorial, which would seriously weaken the Soviet position.
VIII. The Risks Inherent in Soviet Foreign Policy
61. The Soviet ideological approach does not dismiss the possibility of war, nor in all likelihood does their actual estimate of the present situation. This in itself tends to create an attitude which may make war more difficult to avoid. Yet the new Soviet leaders are eminently practical men who are presumably quite aware that a war, even if victorious, would create vastly greater problems for them than they now face. In fact it might well destroy the U.S.S.R. and the Western civilisation of which they are still proud to be part.
62. The difficulty is to reconcile this with the risks they are running in their present policy. In the first place it is almost impossible for the U.S.S.R. to make any real concessions with regard to questions where it has the sole say. The Russians are experts in the art of power politics. They are well aware of the danger of yielding, or at least appearing to yield to superior strength unless in so doing there is some obvious gain, either in increased security, or in forcing the opponent to waste his strength. The Russians will only yield to superior force if by so doing they can reduce the pressure brought to bear against them and insure themselves against being asked to make further and repeated concessions in response to the same means of pressure. They will not yield to pressure if they feel it starts them on a path to which they can see no ending.
63. Applying this reasoning to Europe it is easy to see that the Russians must have concluded that a retreat from Austria and from East Germany would not bring them a substantial relaxation of tension but would simply result in increased pressure on the more vulnerable satellites. This was made quite explicit in a number of speeches by important United States Government officials.
64. Insofar as Korea is concerned the Soviet Union risked none of these things in advocating a cease-fire and on the contrary gained some advantages. In Indo-China the situation is different as the U.S.S.R. probably is in no position to enforce its will but must take into consideration the widely varying needs of China and Viet-Minh. Nevertheless it seems likely that the Soviet Union advocated a cease-fire at least in part because the situation was getting out of hand and carried the danger of extending the conflict in a way which could not be easily controlled by Moscow.
65. In pursuing a foreign policy which carries many risks (even if that foreign policy may have been the heritage of an irascible and stubborn old man and which the present régime may not entirely have approved), the Soviet leaders can act on the basis of several assumptions which tend to minimise the danger to them. The first is the knowledge that the United States cannot act entirely alone and must to some extent take into consideration the view of its European allies. The Russians may believe that the policy of NATO is dictated by the United States and that in the last analysis Washington forces the pace. But they also know that it would be suicidal for the European allies to engage in war with the U.S.S.R. and that this must have some influence on U.S. policies.
66. They are also aware of the passionate desire throughout the world for peace. Hence the tremendous effort to present Soviet policies as peaceful in contradiction to the warmongering policies of the West. But, apart from the straight propaganda value of the peace campaign, the knowledge must be comforting to the Soviet leaders that not only would even "imperialist" governments in the last analysis hesitate to pursue their interests by war-like means, but that the sentiments of the people in the West would make the launching of war very difficult.
67. This, of course, leads to a temptation for the Russians to exploit human weaknesses on our side, and it requires on the part of the Soviet leaders a fairly skilful estimate of how far they can blackmail the West. Stalin was apparently prepared to cut it pretty close, while the Malenkov-Khrushchev team is making a greater allowance for errors.
IX. Soviet Long-term Aims and the Ideological Motivation
68. The theory of Marxism, and its additions by Lenin and Stalin, on the subject of world revolution, are too well known to bear repetition here. The Communists hope for, and confidently expect, that through the inevitable process of history the capitalist world will eventually destroy itself or be destroyed, to be replaced by a world-wide communist society. But there is a wide gap between the theory and the reality.
69. In practice, it is doubtful if even Stalin would have welcomed too rapid an expansion of the area of communism; the present leaders give every indication of being highly practical men who are even more likely to put in first place the dictates of necessity. Furthermore, their experiences in Yugoslavia and Germany have pointed up the great difficulties they face in handling alien peoples. Of course, in theory there should be no need of Russian bayonets, and in some countries, such as Czechoslovakia, this has proved trued.
70. The victory of native communism in China has had an important effect on the outlook of the Soviet leaders. On the one hand, it has increased their self-confidence by destroying the pre-war feeling of isolation. On the other hand, it has weakened the supreme position of Moscow and will tend increasingly towards the setting up of two centres of authority and influence, and perhaps even of dogma, in the Soviet world.
71. But it is doubtful if a communist world as such is a Soviet aim unless the Soviet leaders are convinced that that world could continue to be controlled by Moscow. It seems to me unlikely that they could have many illusions on this score. While they have been able to control the East European satellites with fair success, even in this area where they have the advantage of proximity, and, in most cases, actual force at their disposal, they have failed dismally to control Yugoslavia, and must recognize that Eastern Germany would in all likelihood cast off communism the moment Soviet troops were withdrawn. How much confidence could they therefore really place in the subservience, or at least loyalty, to Moscow of France, Italy, Germany, not to mention the United Kingdom and North America?
72. Furthermore, one of the main instruments by which the Soviet bloc is now held together is the alleged threat to it from the capitalist world. With this removed there would be less reason for a largely communist world to leave absolute control of it to the Russians.
73. If one seriously examines Soviet aims from this standpoint, I think in the end we must in all honesty admit that the constantly reiterated long-term aim which we ascribe to the Russians is misleading. Naturally, if the world could be conquered for communism without weakening control by the U.S.S.R., that would be another matter. But the Russians, who are in any case constantly governed by an almost psychopathic feeling of inferiority vis-à-vis the Western world, can hardly have any illusions on this score.
74. I should qualify this by adding that possibly Stalin and Zhdanov may have believed this was possible, but I doubt if very many of the present leaders would welcome very great additions to the Soviet bloc, particularly of indigestible areas, at the present time. If these additions had to come by military action, I think the Soviet leaders would definitely shun it.
75. The old concept of revolution is also passing. The idea seems to be increasingly accepted in Moscow that the Russian revolution was a unique and non-recurring event. The victory of Chinese communism certainly seems entirely contrary to Marxist theory, as does the manner by which communist régimes came to power in Eastern Europe. There the role of the revolutionary has been played down and, indeed, after the communist régimes came to power, most of the idealists were quickly discarded in favour of reliable bureaucrats and party hacks who could be relied on to administer their territory faithfully in accordance with Moscow's decrees. And in making the revolution the first aim seemed to be to take over the fabric of society intact. The doctrine of destroying the old to build a bright new world is now "left-wing deviationism", and in Moscow the communist manifesto is practically a subversive document.
76. What this means in terms of Moscow's long-term aims is simply that the Soviet leaders are well aware not only of the difficulties they would be faced with in over-extending the area of communism but of the almost insuperable obstacles in rebuilding a modern society from scratch after the destruction of its social and physical base.
77. It is important to know in this context to what extent the Soviet leaders are influenced by ideology. It is also one of the most difficult questions to answer. By 1939 Marxist theory had been considerably modified in order to fit the difficulties of applying the doctrine. The war hastened the process of disillusionment by revealing such paradoxes as massive capitalist aid to the U.S.S.R., and the failure of the German working masses to desert their country in order to join with the troops of the communist fatherland. And in many cases the convulsions necessary to meet these situations were accomplished with complete cynicism by the Soviet leaders, so much so that a tightening of ideological controls was necessary after the war. But this does not necessarily mean that the leaders were not convinced of the rightness and inevitability of their ideology.
78. It is unlikely that the Russians have laid aside their Marxist spectacles in viewing foreign affairs, but a close examination of their policies since 1945 leads to some doubt as to whether any single act of territorial expansion would have been different even if the Russian Government were not Marxist. The ideology was communist but the policy was one that almost every previous Tsarist Government secretly dreamed of accomplishing.
79. But this does not mean that the attitude to the West is not motivated in a quite different way because of its Marxist content. The dynamism in the Soviet society of the last thirty-five years is a specially Russian blend. It is largely Marxist in form and yet there is an underlying Russian base. There has hardly been a generation of Russians which has not produced at least one politician or philosopher to proclaim the Messianic role of Russia. "If we have come after the others", said Chaadaiev in the early years of the 19th century, "it is to do better than the others . . . We are called to solve most of the social problems, to complete most of the ideas originated in the old societies; we are called to state our opinion on the gravest questions which absorb mankind."
80. But the specifically Marxist portion of this Russian dynamism (which, however, in the past has always proved to have tremendous ebbs and flows) is manifest in a belief in the inherently aggressive nature of capitalist society which makes it difficult to accept any state except that of armed truce. When this is combined with a genuine inferiority complex, jealousy and fear of the West and the United States in particular, and an almost complete ignorance at the top level of conditions in the outside world, the result is one hardly conducive to an unemotional and balanced approach to world problems.
81. These are practical considerations making a modus vivendi between the two camps more difficult. But while the Marxist education of the present Soviet leaders undoubtedly helps to confuse their appreciation of world problems I do not think it obscures it completely. They have given indications that their primary considerations are practical ones, and that when necessary theory will be sacrificed to the needs of the situation.
82. This was put quite clearly in a recent authoritative article in the theoretical journal of the Communist Party, Kommunist. In attacking dogmatism it said that it "leads to the elaboration of certain principles without taking into account the facts". It denounced the habit of considering "the economic laws of socialism as a fetish", and demanded that the Party activists re-interpret Marxist theories in line with the facts of life.
83. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the communist expansionism since 1945 would not have been very different without the Marxist ideology and that any powerful Russian state would have followed precisely the same aims as did Stalin. The main difference lies in the fact that the Soviet state was also served by a dynamic political philosophy and numerous and well-organized fifth columns abroad. It is, of course, this combination of physical and messianic strength which constitutes the over-powering force of the U.S.S.R. today. But it should be constantly remembered that Russia, particularly in alliance with China, could still be a menace to the rest of the world even if Marxism were to vanish completely.
X. Internal Factors Affecting Soviet Foreign Policy
84. It would be foolish to think that Soviet foreign policy could be studied without taking into consideration the important developments which are taking place inside the U.S.S.R. These are three-fold in nature - economic, social and political.
85. Soviet leaders have succeeded to a very large extent in transforming the U.S.S.R. into a major industrial nation in a relatively short time, but it is now becoming apparent that this has resulted in a completely lop-sided economic structure. The heavy industry and armaments base is firmly established but at the expense of agriculture which is in some aspects behind the pre-revolutionary period. Grain production is not even keeping up with the three million annual population increase. Light industry, housing and services to the public are quite inadequate to the needs of the population. The railway net-work is poor and out-of-date, and apart from two or three macadamised roads there are no adequate public highways to speak of. These paradoxes have been in existence for some time but it is only in the last few months that some of these defects have been acknowledged to exist. And this happened simply because it was clear that the whole structure would collapse if the food supply was not improved.
86. The U.S.S.R. is settling down into a social mould which must inevitably have some effect on its relations with the rest of the world. It is developing new upper and middle classes which owe their positions to the Revolution but which are anxious to maintain the rank, prestige, wealth and privileges which they have won, and pass them on to their children. It has produced an intelligentzia which is able and as well endowed as that in the West with the powers of speculation and original thought.
87. But the process of development in Soviet society has also created great gaps between the new privileged classes on the one hand and the urban working class and even more so the peasantry on the other. The latter still represent over half the population. They are economically and socially depressed and their loyalty to, or at least enthusiasm for, the régime is doubtful. Any society built by force on such a precarious base carries within it the possibilities of its own destruction.
88. Little if anything is being done to modify this situation, and on the contrary the gaps already existing between the social groups in the U.S.S.R. are growing. Since it is still possible for the clever worker's son to move up into a higher social bracket, Soviet society is still relatively dynamic. But this affects only a small portion of the population and the bridging of this social gulf is becoming increasingly difficult.
89. The attention devoted to the agricultural problem in the last year, and the personal attention given it by Khrushchev is an indication that it is more than an economic crisis that the régime faces. It seems to me that there is little likelihood of the Soviet leaders improving the standard of living of the peasants in the near future or being able successfully to solve the ideological or social contradictions between the city and the countryside. And this is a problem of immense size for the Soviet leadership and one which they would hardly wish to leave unsolved in order to seek foreign adventures.
90. Politically there is also a trend towards stagnation. Stalin recognised that the hierarchy was becoming petrified and at the 19th Party Congress he moved to expand the inner governing body of the Party by abolishing the Politburo and replacing it by a larger Presidium. The present leaders have returned to what amounts to a Politburo of whom the seven key members have been at or near the top for several decades. It is possible that the men who are certainly now coming forward will be able to break into this charmed circle. If they do they will bring quite a new atmosphere to Soviet politics. Already it is clear that the younger men are a different type from the old revolutionaries. They are capable administrators but they lack that personal dynamism which was present in Stalin and even to a certain extent in people like Kaganovich, Mikoyan and Khrushchev.
91. The possibilities of internal political troubles inside the U.S.S.R. cannot be entirely dismissed. A dictatorship without a dictator is an anomaly, even given the special circumstances of the Soviet Union. An internal economic crisis, or greater international tension, would create a situation demanding strong leadership of the kind the Russians have always respected in the past - that is personal leadership. This could lead to rivalries not only at the top but all through the Central Committee where there can be little doubt the members are being lined up in the various camps. Combined with this is the constant play of ideas and policies in this body the importance of which is often over-looked.
92. On the minorities front there has been a certain moderation of the tough Great Russian line, but no indication that any important political or cultural concessions are going to be made to the smaller nationalities. The fact remains, however, that almost half of the population of the U.S.S.R. is non-Russian and at the most apathetic towards their Russian masters. Since they occupy strategic areas along the western, northern, southern and south-eastern frontiers, the attitude of these races is an important factor which the Soviet leaders could not disregard in determining their foreign policy.
93. A final internal factor to be taken into consideration is the really great weariness of the Soviet people. Their collective enthusiasm is beginning to run down at a moment when their leadership is less dynamic than it was, and so far no substitute that can inspire the Russians to further tremendous personal sacrifices and outbursts of energy has been found. Apart from this there exists a genuine horror of war among the Russian people. If war broke out, the Soviet leaders might be able to convince their people that it was the result of capitalist aggression but the latter would enter it almost certainly with apathy or resignation, particularly as the enemy would be a race which traditionally has had no quarrel with the Russian people. The Soviet leaders can largely ignore their feelings but there is a limit to this, particularly since the death of Stalin. The new hierarchy is apparently in closer touch with Soviet realities than Stalin was and would hesitate to launch a war for which it felt the people were psychologically unprepared.
94. The sum of this brief survey of internal affairs is to show: (a) that the structure of Soviet society has vastly changed in the last 20 years and is settling down into a conservative mould; (b) that the leadership of the Party and the Government are also changing and that political dissensions over personalities and policies cannot be ruled out; (c) that the minorities question has not been solved; (d) that the economy of the U.S.S.R. while strong and growing stronger is nevertheless out of balance; (e) that there are many great and potentially dangerous contradictions in Soviet society, particularly in the countryside; and (f) that there is a great longing for peace and "normalcy" among the Soviet people.
95. As regards relations with the Soviet satellites, the Soviet leaders can hardly consider that they have as yet had time to consolidate their position in these territories solidly enough for the waging of war. Estimates of the successes of the political and economic programmes in the various satellites vary but are unanimous in describing the basic antagonism of the peoples to the U.S.S.R. While this does not constitute a menace to the Russians in time of peace, it would be a further factor in making the Soviet leaders hesitate in putting the bloc to the strain of war.
96. To sum up, it would be unwise not to take into consideration the various factors in the internal situation in the U.S.S.R. and the satellite bloc. We are slightly bemused by the size and monolithic character of the Soviet Empire and tend to forget that it has its weaknesses and contradictions as well, and that on the basis of the domestic situation alone the Soviet leaders would probably wish to avoid war at the present time, and indeed for the indefinite future provided the international situation did not change radically.
XI. On the Brink of the Precipice
97. Yuri Krijanitch, an extraordinary Croat priest who migrated to Russia in the early part of the 17th century and preached the doctrine of Pan-Slavism, wrote of his "adopted" country: "Our great misfortune is our lack of moderation in the exercise of power; we are unable to observe the middle way; we have no sense of measure. We go to extremes and wander on the brink of precipices".
98. It is no new thing for the Russians to run risks. In a certain way they delight in it but they have never (like the Germans) deliberately stepped off into the abyss. And I think all the evidence points to the fact that they will not do it now unless in desperation or under extreme provocation. And it seems to me most of their leaders know as well, and perhaps better than some Americans, how close to the precipice their policy has taken them. This study has tried to show why they have followed the policies they have and what in my view they are likely to want now.
99. What the Soviet leaders would probably like to arrange is a workable division of the world more or less along the present lines. Ideally for them this should mean a solution of the Berlin problem (Germany could remain divided as at present), the Austrian occupation, Korea and Indo-China. With these dangerous points of friction eliminated the Russians would no doubt be prepared to settle down for a longish period of "peaceful co-existence".
100. I do not, for the various reasons outlined above, think the Russians are particularly interested in further territorial expansion, at least for the foreseeable present, and certainly not by war-like means. But it is in the nature of the Soviet Russian state that it should exert constant pressure outwards. This pressure nevertheless is not governed by any doctrine that imposes time-tables, and above all there is none of the Germanic or Japanese feeling that there must be expansion or explosion outwards. If the counter-pressure of the outside world becomes too great it is not shameful for the Soviet leaders to take measures to reduce it by a temporary withdrawal.
101. A recent despatch from our Ambassador in Washington (No. 712)? stated that the assumption in United States Government circles seemed to be that peaceful co-existence was impossible. This seems to me not only an unduly pessimistic estimate but one which is positively suicidal since the only alternative will lead to the near extermination of a large portion of the civilised world, no matter whose the victory. It springs directly, no doubt, from the United States reaction to the frustrating situation in which we now find ourselves. In 1947 Frank Roberts, then Minister at the United Kingdom Embassy in Moscow, commented on George Kennan's "containment" thesis as being excellent for the British, but impossible for the Americans. The former, he thought, would be quite ready to wait 25 years for the policy to work itself out. The Americans would insist on seeing results within five years.
102. If we assume that the Soviet leaders: (a) have no intention of giving up any of their territorial or political gains; (b) do not intend to try to extend their system any further by military means in the foreseeable future, and (c) wish to avoid an intensification of international tension, there are three conclusions to be reached of the effect of this "containment" or "peaceful co-existence" policy on the U.S.S.R. itself.
103. A long period of relative peace could lead to: (a) a mellowing of the Soviet system; (b) its disintegration; or (c) its explosion outwards. The last seems to me improbable for the reasons outlined above but it is not impossible that changed conditions could lead to Bonapartism and the ascendancy of military thinking. But the vast size of the U.S.S.R. and the Soviet bloc is not likely to give the Russians a feeling of being hemmed in and frustrated as happened in Germany and Italy, even though the capitalist encirclement theme may be played up for propaganda purposes.
104. The second possibility also seems to me unlikely. Certainly the situation inside the U.S.S.R. is not so monolithic or so stable as we often tend to think; and few of the basic economic, social and political problems facing the country have been solved since the new leadership took over. Nor is the problem of the leadership solved either. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to consider that the Russians are incapable of solving these questions and providing continuity of government. It may take a different form and it may not be so dynamic as that of Stalin, but some form of effective communist government is likely in the foreseeable future to function in the U.S.S.R.
105. One could argue that things may continue indefinitely much as they are, but Soviet society is not static and I think the evidence points to some kind of evolution. This could, of course, be in the direction of a tougher line, both internally and externally, but even if this took place I feel it would be temporary and primarily a question of personalities, and that the pressure is inexorably towards a loosening of the tight Stalinist type of dictatorship.
106. Some observers of the Soviet scene, like Isaac Deutscher, exaggerate when they anticipate a gradual development of Soviet society towards a form of communist democracy. There is no hint of that whatsoever in the U.S.S.R. and it would be quite contrary to Russian history. But it is possible for the more odious aspects of the régime to be modified. There is, as Sir Winston Churchill said, a great and pent-up longing among the mass of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. for peace and for a better way of life. The Soviet leaders cannot put off indefinitely the day when they must face up to this. As Soviet society becomes older it becomes more traditional and conservative. The revolutionary fervour grows dim and the new masters settle down into a respectable life, and a very busy one running their enormous country. And the prospects of risking it all in order to bring the benefits of revolution to other parts of the globe grow less attractive.
107. If there is any validity in these arguments then one can draw a few conclusions. The first is that peace, or at least a state of "cold war", which passes for peace these days, can be maintained. This does not necessarily mean that either side abandons its hopes that eventually some or all of the rest of the world can be converted to its way of life. But it does mean that it should be possible to eliminate war as a means of bringing about changes.
108. I know of no expert on Soviet affairs, in particular among those who have been in the U.S.S.R. of recent years, who is not convinced that the Soviet leaders infinitely prefer to continue the struggle with capitalism on its present basis rather than to risk what they have gained by a contest of arms, and the manner in which weapons of destruction are developing is not likely to make them change their minds.
109. This does not mean that we need think that the Soviet leaders have abandoned any of their basic aims towards the West. It simply means that they have decided that it is no longer worth while to try to continue the struggle between the two systems on the plane of war. The competition goes on, but with war ruled out as a means of deciding the outcome, at least for the time being.
110. It would be falling into the most obvious trap, though one which was not so apparent in the days of the Popular Front, to think that co-existence meant an abandonment of all those aims for which generations of Marxists have fought. Therefore we must be prepared to struggle by peaceful means with the machinations of Soviet agents, propaganda and Communist parties.
111. If we think that the battle can be continued without war, and it is surely our solemn duty to pursue this belief as long as it is tenable, and if we think there is a good chance that the other side also hopes that war is avoidable, what can be done to make it possible to continue to live more or less peacefully with the Soviet world?
112. The first prerequisite is to achieve a more balanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of the adversary. Second, it should not be forgotten that even without communism Russia could represent a formidable threat to the rest of the world and that China, properly organised, will still mean 600,000,000 people and a huge land mass. Therefore the problem of co-existence cannot be based purely on the estimate of a straight struggle in terms of black and white between two ideologies.
113. Third, we must make a determined effort to avoid the assumption that war is inevitable. In our attitude towards the U.S.S.R. we should make it implicit that we do not intend to attack the Soviet Union and at the same time we should avoid action which might have the effect genuinely of frightening the Russians. For example, we cannot assume that there are no limits to Soviet patience in the face of encirclement by American bases. There is a point in establishing these bases at which they tend to create the very thing they were designed to avoid. Apart from all the political considerations, no great country could sit by and witness with indifference the progressive closing in of the enemy.
114. But this also poses problems with regard to our own peoples and that is of continuing to have to justify to them the necessity of heavy military and tax burdens without continuing the atmosphere of crisis. In this and indeed the whole question of our relations with the U.S.S.R. we must work out a compromise, since under no circumstances must the Soviet world again be tempted to think that because of western military weakness and psychological unpreparedness it could expand without serious risk to itself. We must therefore maintain as large a force as is consistent with the aim of discouraging the Soviet leaders from territorial aggression. I do not think this need necessarily mean the maintenance under arms of forces intended to match the Russians man to man. The same purpose would be served by a clear indication that aggression in any specific part of the world would touch off war with the western powers.
115. In a certain sense by trying to do this in Europe we are chasing off after the Russians down one road while they in the meantime have gone in another direction. If, in fact, the Russians never seriously considered the possibility of outright military expansion in Europe then the attempt to build up a force capable of meeting this aggression man to man is misplaced. There are, of course, apart from this, obvious reasons why the power vacuum in Western Europe had to be filled, but they are not the main reasons advanced publicly to justify re-armament.
116. If there is merit in the theory that massive re-armament mostly at the expense of the economic programme in some ways missed the point in Europe, there might also be justification for thinking the same about South-East Asia. In other words, if the Indo-China problem were settled, is it necessary to draw up a Maginot Line around the rest of South-East Asia, or that portion of it which it is decided must be defended, and prepare for a military threat which may not materialise at least in the form anticipated? In particular it would be unfortunate if the military defence of South-East Asia were to interfere with economic aid since this would help to create the conditions under which a crumbling away of the free nations could take place without the need of an outright invasion. Again, the important thing is surely to make it clear that certain actions by the Soviet bloc would automatically involve it in war with the western powers. If there can be no shadow of a doubt about a Western bluff, and if there were evidence that effective military action would be possible, then this is just as good a deterrent as actually manning a defensive line, and does not tie down large numbers of Western troops.
117. This is a pessimistic counsel in many ways because it calls for de facto recognition that communism has conquered a large portion of the world, and it requires abandoning the peoples of Eastern Europe to their fate. It amounts to an admission of a division of the world into two spheres, something the Russians have been aiming at since Yalta, and therefore is an admission of partial failure on the part of the West. But it is the only realistic policy unless we are prepared to fight to liberate the satellites or to destroy communism. If we are not going to do the latter then we must accept the alternative, which is to try to live in a divided world.
118. The Russians admittedly do not make this very easy for us. There are signs, however, that they wish to adopt slightly more civilised attitudes in dealing with the West; of which Molotov's behaviour at Berlin and Geneva is a sign. They seem prepared to engage in more normal activities in the fields of international sport, science, cultural activities and so on. They may eventually come to participate in their own peculiar way in the work of the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations. They may even admit tourists once more to the U.S.S.R.
119. These are all small things and they do not change the fundamental realities. But they are a small step in the right direction and we should do everything in our power to encourage this trend which may in time have some mellowing effect on the Soviet concept of living with their neighbours. If it seems inconsistent with Soviet continuation of terrorist and espionage activities and support of communist parties abroad, we must recognise that much in the U.S.S.R. is inconsistent, starting with the basic paradox that one of the most likeable, human and kind peoples in the world is also capable of the most atrocious barbarities.
120. There is also a curious but, I think, quite noticeable dichotomy in the Russian attitude to the West. At the same time they wish to play the role of Marxist revolutionaries leading the U.S.S.R. in the defence of the peoples of the world against the capitalist enemy, and yet to be accepted as equal members of the club. Most educated Russians, even those of the younger generations, do like to think of themselves as Europeans steeped in the literature, history and philosophy of the main stream of European civilisation. I could detect at Molotov's reception in Moscow last November 7, when the Soviet leaders fraternised with the Western ambassadors, a certain note of nostalgia for the days of the wartime partnership. And partnership with the Czechs and the Chinese is no substitute.
121. Basically, however, the Soviet leaders are going to continue to approach the question of relations with the West from an antagonistic stand-point which, combined with the traditional Russian xenophobia and inferiority complex will result in secretiveness, duplicity and unpredictability. And in spite of temporary surface changes in this attitude we will have to accept these norms of behaviour on the part of the Russians for a long time to come.
122. This often incomprehensible Soviet attitude to the West complicates our task. If we add to this the feeling in the West that the present sorry state of affairs is largely the fault of the Russians, there may be a tendency to conclude that it is up to them alone to take actions intended to improve relations. This would be a purely justifiable feeling if we were dealing with some people closer to our background and civilisation. But we cannot equate the Russians with the Americans, and it is up to us to make allowances and to exercise patience. The Russians will respond to a combination of strength, determination and absolute correctness in any dealings with them, which is perhaps the reason why they never took any reprisals against the Canadian Embassy in Moscow as a result of the Gouzenko affair and in fact treated us better than most of the other Western missions - because the Canadian Government acted with firmness but correctness. 31
123. We are not living in a static world. Given a period of peace there is just a chance that developments inside the Soviet bloc will tend towards a maturing of Soviet society, and a gradual settling down into a pattern of relations with the outside world which will make it possible to live together, if not very happily, then at least not on the ruins of each other's cities. In the meantime we might recall Berdyaev's 32 admonition that "it is necessary to bring to bear upon Russia the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity in order to comprehend her".