Negotiating with the communists

Googling around for pics for the blog I ran into this image.  ”Stalin’s race car”.  Sorry for my predilection for motor-head paraphernalia.  I’m sure you get tired of it, but I like to think that I am at least consistent while also modeling that an interest in nearly anything, from cars to music to movies to fashion to trains, can be a really fun way to cleave into the past.

So; “Stalin’s race car”.  Was he really seriously considering going up against the Ferraris, the Alfas, the Renaults and the Jaguars?  Was the international sports car arena going to be another field of propaganda points like the Olympics and the space race?  If so, what happened to it?

Well, for one thing of course Stalin died.  If you really want to follow the course of the chapter you are really looking at the last years of Stalin’s life and most especially, the Peace Note.  Kissinger dismisses the Note rather nonchalantly.  I’m not so sure.  Maybe it was a bona fide opportunity lost.  Look at it in comparison to the disengagement scheme.  Was it possibly our fear of worldwide communist domination that led to the Cold War as we know it.  Did we take too literally the lesson of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and apply that to the Communist Manifesto and convince ourselves that anything resembling appeasement would tempt worldwide communist domination?  I’m afraid we might have.

On a side note, Beria is executed in 1953.  I can’t remember where I read it but somewhere I saw a first hand account, it might be in one of those old life magazines, of someone traveling the through the USSR shortly after his death.  They made some casual inquiry about him, an old poster with his likeness had been left somewhere. The inquiry met a stony reception.  Beria was an un-person.  Not just a traitor, not another Benedict Arnold, but he not only no longer existed, he never did.  Another source confirmed for me that an encyclopedia published in ’53 had an usually long entry under “Bergund” or some such name, noting t he editors had undoubtedly rushed to fill the space where Beria had been deleted.

You really have to read Orwell’s 1984.

Maybe our fears were well founded after all.


2 Responses to “Negotiating with the communists”

  1. Claire Olmstead says:

    I remember when we talked in class last time, the Berlin situation was a point of confusion for some people. I don’t think this chapter made it any clearer to me. Why would Stalin want to give up East Germany to the Western Powers? I think that many of the problems between the East and West were definitely caused by misunderstandings of the motives of the other side. Stalin made his decisions assuming that the United States and the West were also practicing Realpolitik. Because this wasn’t the case, I think that each side struggled to understand the actions of the other.

  2. Adam Wright says:

    It seems as though Kissinger has another crush: Konrad Adenauer. Kissinger describes him as the “greatest German statesman since Bismarck.” Granted there were not many great German statesman between him and Bismarck (i.e. Hitler), but even being compared to Bismarck is quite impressive especially by Kissinger). Furthermore, his resume shows he is ready for the job as chancellor of post-WWII Germany; he was alive during the days when the great Bismarck ruled, was the mayor of Cologne for 16 years, withdrew to a monastery to do so some reflection, became mayor again, and was then voted to be chancellor of Germany (by one vote, presumably his own?). Kissinger further describes him as bearing “the historic distinction of having guided Germany away from the legacy of Bismarck.” Adenauer was able to successfully build up Germany by acknowledging that it needed to be reliant on Western support (sacrificing a unified Germany) to have a thriving country. In conclusion, he seems important.

    Also, Kissinger makes a pretty bold claim, stating, “the collapse of communism started with Khrushchev.” Khrushchev denounced Stalin (apparently softening communism), he recognized East German communism (weakening the soviet bloc), and, ATK, he was better at starting crises than at ending them. So thanks to Khrushchev, communism collapsed? I think not. I think Khrushchev was pretty successful communist leader; he crushed the Hungarian revolt, was quite successful in his relations with the Arabs (Egypt and the Aswan Dam), started the huge Cuban Missile Crisis, launched the Sputnik, shot down a CIA U-2 plane, and was able to persuade the Americans that the Soviets were superior militarily. Sure, he said he wanted “peaceful coexistence” but his actions speak otherwise.

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