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How much closer we got to a Soviet rush forward in late Cold War?


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The thing that does not make sense to me is that if the US was intent on keeping Iran away from the USSR, even to the point of considering direct intervention, why didn't they occupy Iran after the revolution ? It would seemingly be a lower stakes and higher reward play - though still in my eyes totally insane.

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Its not that they really cared about Iran, as about Iran's presence. They could tolerate a revolutionary Iran, as long as it didnt close the straits of Hormuz, and as long as it didnt allow the USSR in. When they broke one of those, they became very, very irritable indeed about it. But they still didnt invade.

Why didnt they occupy? Well dont forget the Iranian revolution was in 1979, only 4 years after America finally extricated itself from Vietnam. The Vietnam shadow was so long, the US didnt successfully get out from under it till 1991 and the Gulf War, and even then, it informed their early departure.

So there was no way the US was going to occupy Iran. They probably envisaged the possibility of having to, to keep the Soviets out in the event of a world war. That seems to have informed numerous wargames. The Author of Team Yankee wrote one scenario based on this. What was never clear was whether the Iranians would be keen to invite one bitter enemy in, to keep another one out.

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1 hour ago, KV7 said:

The thing that does not make sense to me is that if the US was intent on keeping Iran away from the USSR, even to the point of considering direct intervention, why didn't they occupy Iran after the revolution ? It would seemingly be a lower stakes and higher reward play - though still in my eyes totally insane.

There was Vietnam, but there was also the expectation that the US could work with whatever came after the Shah. Khomeini didn't achieve absolute power instantly and there was always the expectation a military coup could turn things around, but then iraq invaded and the Iranians had no choice but to rally to the regime.

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And a military coup nearly happened. I gather there was a group inside the Iranian air force that was planning one, till it got purged. Ironically it meant the air force probably ended up more pro Regime than the Army, so the Air Force was latterly more trusted.

There is a good case for saying the Invasion of Iran by Iraq probably solidified the regime, in the same way perhaps as the Civil War did the Soviet's. Its far from certain it would have lasted as long as it has without the opportunity of a good war to weed out alternative powerbases.

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2 hours ago, RETAC21 said:

There was Vietnam, but there was also the expectation that the US could work with whatever came after the Shah. Khomeini didn't achieve absolute power instantly

Well yes, there was a considerable communist camp in the revolution, too. 😁

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27 minutes ago, BansheeOne said:

Well yes, there was a considerable communist camp in the revolution, too. 😁

Yes, bur happiness rarely lasts, from the wiki article on the Tudeh: In 1982, however, the Tudeh broke ranks. The Islamist government of Iran had closed down the Tudeh newspaper, and purged Tudeh members from government ministries. According to the Mitrokhin Archive, Vladimir Kuzichkin, a KGB officer stationed in Tehran, had defected to the British in 1982. MI6 used this information and shared the information with the CIA. Their information was then shared with the Iranian government by the CIA, which was secretly courting Iran, as part of the Iran–Contra affair.[77][33]

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Ive got Kuzichkin's book I believe. He said that the day after the revolution, the SAVAK surveillance guys they used to listen to on the radio all went quiet. Then after a couple of months, the voices started up again. Not new voices, the same old voices. They had apparently recognized they still had a threat from foreign spies, and hired the old team and used them again. Which tells you what must have happened to quite a lot of the former regime when it fell, and why the new regime was so paranoid about them.

This situation also suited Israel quite well. There was still apparently quite a few people in the Iranian Air Force they knew, and they opened up channels with them. Supposedly Israel was quite a supporter of the Iranian Air Force after the war started, even before the Americans started using them as a conduit. Presumably its where the Iranians were getting all their Mavericks and Sparrows from. Bet they dont want to be reminded of that now.

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On 10/11/2020 at 5:19 AM, Yama said:

What is hard to understand for a Westerner is how much Soviet Union lived under constant perceived threat of invasion by imperialist powers over its entire existence. 

Not a perceived threat, an actual threat given Napoleon, Hitler, etc. (I still can’t figure out why Stalin didn’t insist on Germany being reduced to a depopulated wasteland after Ww2, if the US had been in the Soviet position we would have). I don’t think that was lost on Westerners though — my father was a US military officer and was very well educated about that stuff. “Yeah they have a right to be paranoid but they’re still acting like assholes” was the predominant opinion. 

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Im guessing they did that because if germany was depopulated, it couldnt be a target for subversion. Lenin always regretted the revolution happened in a backward nation like Russia. He always felt that to succeed in Europe, not least in the world, it would have to ensure Germany came into the Socialist Camp. We of course felt the same way about 'our' Germany, that we wouldnt succeed in the cold war without a nation like Germany. And of course they were right.

Of course the USSR did pick the occupied area of Germany clean in 1945. When they belatedly saw that a cold war was in the offing, they started building it up again. Bulwark of Socialism and all that.

What was it Henry Kissinger once said, 'Even paranoids have enemies'?

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A healthy Germany is also a god thing for the European economy.  When this was made clear to the US government, the Morgenthau Plan was replaced by the Marshal Plan.

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Right. Presumably the Soviets felt much the same way about 'their' Europe.

There is the other way of looking at it, cynically, that a country that had been so well regimented by the Nazi's, would be amenable to making them regimented towards progressing world socialism. And so it proved.

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Japan got the same treatment - assistance in rebuilding as a bulwark.


In some ways WW2 tarnished socialism even as there was a pro-socialist sentiment after it across much of Europe, because it further shifted the USSR into a cynical and militaristic mindset. And the USSR soon struggled to go beyond the 'big push' extensive industrialisation model towards one more suitable for a somewhat higher level of economic development. Khrushchev's idiocy didn't help much either (he understood the need for 'reforms' but made a total mess of them, and ignored the decent proposals by Kantorovich et. al.).

 

Edited by KV7
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10 minutes ago, KV7 said:

Japan got the same treatment - assistance in rebuilding as a bulwark.


In some ways WW2 tarnished socialism even as there was a pro-socialist sentiment after it across much of Europe after it, because it further shifted the USSR into a cynical and militaristic mindset. And the USSR soon struggled to go beyond the 'big push' extensive industrialisation model towards one more suitable for a somewhat higher level of economic development. Khrushchev's idiocy didn't help much either (he understood the need for 'reforms' but made a total mess of them, and ignored the decent proposals by Kantorovich et. al.).

 

Why do you say the USSR when you mean Stalin? If he had lived past 1953 another Yezhovschina was in the offing, cleaning the ranks of the people that had won WW2, except this time it would have reached the satellites too and there was a big chance that Tito would have been murdered, turning all of East Europe into Albania. After Stalin died, the survivors had to reach an equilibrium, which they did after some struggles, based on the primacy of the Party supported by the military-industrial complex, the KGB and the Army, so, when the Party lost its legitimacy in the Gorbachev years, the whole house of cards fell.

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On 10/14/2020 at 1:08 PM, Rick said:

Thank you Stuart. I never heard of this one before. Wonder how it would have turned out?

Talking about depopulation of Germany - a conflict between the winning powers of WW2 would have caused an apocalyptic famine all across Central and Eastern Europe. Food situation post-war was very bad as it was, going to all-out war and wrecking whatever agriculture which was left, with nuclear weapons no less...I really don't want to even think about the consequences.

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3 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Im guessing they did that because if germany was depopulated, it couldnt be a target for subversion. Lenin always regretted the revolution happened in a backward nation like Russia. He always felt that to succeed in Europe, not least in the world, it would have to ensure Germany came into the Socialist Camp. We of course felt the same way about 'our' Germany, that we wouldnt succeed in the cold war without a nation like Germany. And of course they were right.

Of course the USSR did pick the occupied area of Germany clean in 1945. When they belatedly saw that a cold war was in the offing, they started building it up again. Bulwark of Socialism and all that.

What was it Henry Kissinger once said, 'Even paranoids have enemies'?

Stalin likely had designs to win over all of Germany by the same means it had worked in Czechoslovakia, North Korea, etc. - first make it a nominally neutral country ruled by a multi-/all-party coalition including the communists, then seize full power by an either peaceful or forceful coup. Notably in inner-German discussion of unification after WW II, the West wanted free elections first, the East negotiations on a peace treaty with the Allies. In reply to Konrad Adenauer's policy of Western integration over unification, Stalin offered the latter for a neutral Germany in 1952. It was in fact a popular proposal, since West Germans by and large favored reuniting with their countrymen over facing off with them as part of different armed camps.

To this day there is controversy among historians whether Stalin was serious or just trying to interfere with Western integration; Adenauer certainly had an uphill battle against popular opinion which was opposed to remilitarization after the second devastating war lost inside three decades. As late as 1955, there were new Soviet proposals for negotiations on reunification to prevent signature of the Paris Treaties and West Germany's acession to NATO and the WEU. Afterwards policy on both sides settled on division, and the DDR abandoned the aim of reunification in favor of stressing their souvereignty as a newly-created independent nation.

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36 minutes ago, BansheeOne said:

Stalin likely had designs to win over all of Germany by the same means it had worked in Czechoslovakia, North Korea, etc. - first make it a nominally neutral country ruled by a multi-/all-party coalition including the communists, then seize full power by an either peaceful or forceful coup. Notably in inner-German discussion of unification after WW II, the West wanted free elections first, the East negotiations on a peace treaty with the Allies. In reply to Konrad Adenauer's policy of Western integration over unification, Stalin offered the latter for a neutral Germany in 1952. It was in fact a popular proposal, since West Germans by and large favored reuniting with their countrymen over facing off with them as part of different armed camps.

To this day there is controversy among historians whether Stalin was serious or just trying to interfere with Western integration; Adenauer certainly had an uphill battle against popular opinion which was opposed to remilitarization after the second devastating war lost inside three decades. As late as 1955, there were new Soviet proposals for negotiations on reunification to prevent signature of the Paris Treaties and West Germany's acession to NATO and the WEU. Afterwards policy on both sides settled on division, and the DDR abandoned the aim of reunification in favor of stressing their souvereignty as a newly-created independent nation.

Yes, I think you are quite right.

I suppose we can look at Austria and see a country that was divided, unified, and then became a neutral, and did not so far as we know suffer any particular effects from subversion. Although the point there is, that it reunified post Stalin, and that Austria was not Germany. For the Soviets, Germany, both Germany's, was a plumb. Austria  would be nice to have, but if they got Germany, it would probably eventually fall in their lap anyway. It was scarcely worth the effort.

Personally I dont think from the Soviet perspective, an independent Germany could be allowed to exist. It had to be in one camp or the other from their perspective. Yes, perhaps Stalin saw it being like Finland as a buffer state. I think considering it was the ultimate aim in 1919 was to spur revolution in Germany, it would have just been too tempting for them. Certainly for Stalin anyway.

 

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4 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

... I think considering it was the ultimate aim in 1919 was to spur revolution in Germany, it would have just been too tempting for them. Certainly for Stalin anyway.

 

You missed whole shitstorm between Stalin and Trotsky over that idea, "exporting" revolutions.

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No, im aware of it. On the one hand, he didnt seem to be particularly keen in exporting the revolution, that certainly was the stated difference with Trotsky. OTOH, if you look at how the USSR expanded on his watch, you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise. WW2 is a partial explanation, but he still added Estonia, Latvia,half of Poland, and tried to add Finland to the property portfolio even before the war. Wasnt there also a border dispute with Romania as well?

Perhaps thats more territorial expansion than ideological expansion in fairness.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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He was an opportunist, but for a whole different, non-communist ideology reasons than Trotsky. So you can not attribute to post WW2 SSSR behavior by the 1919. desire "to export communism into Germany".

Just to remind you what you have wrote:

Quote

I think considering it was the ultimate aim in 1919 was to spur revolution in Germany, it would have just been too tempting for them

 

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Its ok dude, I remember what I wrote. :)

No, I do think you have a point actually. It strikes me that all those territories ive just named were former Russian states. The war against Finland was ostensibly because Finland refused to give the Soviets land that they demanded to create a buffer around Leningrad. The Baltic states can be defined the same way. So thinking about it, that looks uncommonly less like a desire to spread global Communism, than deep paranoia on Stalins part. Who would have thought that? ^_^

That still doesnt mean an independent neutral Germany, if that could have been achieved postwar, would have been any safer. It seems inevitable that even viewed from the perspective of his paranoia, he would have viewed Germany as an objective, even if exporting Communism was no longer the purspose. Which I suppose rather explains the 'recovery' of any plant equipment in the Soviet occupied zone, he wanted a subjugated Germany, not a Communist one.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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I think Stalin supported the permanent revolution policy till the final defeat of the German revolutionary wave (which only fully petered out in 23 or so with the tiny Hamburg uprising) and the defeat at the Hungarian revolution and Warsaw campaign. His 'socialism in one country' was a concession to reality and not his first choice.

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Re the USSR not completely obliterating Germany post Ww2, I think that the previous posters made a lot of good points. I guess what’s interesting for me is that Stalin was still seeing things in terms of great power stuff even after all the horrifying things that Germany did during the invasion. If the US or the UK had suffered the same action, I’m pretty sure they would have wanted Germany to be erased from the map. 

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14 hours ago, KV7 said:

I think Stalin supported the permanent revolution policy till the final defeat of the German revolutionary wave (which only fully petered out in 23 or so with the tiny Hamburg uprising) and the defeat at the Hungarian revolution and Warsaw campaign. His 'socialism in one country' was a concession to reality and not his first choice.

Yeah, I can see that point, and I don't disagree.

2 hours ago, Brian Kennedy said:

Re the USSR not completely obliterating Germany post Ww2, I think that the previous posters made a lot of good points. I guess what’s interesting for me is that Stalin was still seeing things in terms of great power stuff even after all the horrifying things that Germany did during the invasion. If the US or the UK had suffered the same action, I’m pretty sure they would have wanted Germany to be erased from the map. 

Well, we didnt   have what the Soviets had, but a couple of cities, such as Exeter or Coventry, were getting comparable to parts to Stalingrad. Although in death toll the Eastern Front dwarfed it.

 Churchill I think initially wanted a demilitarized Germany, but came around later because he could see it would be a useful bulwark. And perhaps he belatedly realized he needed to distance himself from RAF area bombing for fear of sullying his reputation. 

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On 10/17/2020 at 11:59 PM, Stuart Galbraith said:

Yeah, I can see that point, and I don't disagree.

Well, we didnt   have what the Soviets had, but a couple of cities, such as Exeter or Coventry, were getting comparable to parts to Stalingrad. Although in death toll the Eastern Front dwarfed it.

 Churchill I think initially wanted a demilitarized Germany, but came around later because he could see it would be a useful bulwark. And perhaps he belatedly realized he needed to distance himself from RAF area bombing for fear of sullying his reputation. 

Yeah, what Germany did to the USSR (an erstwhile ally) would basically be the equivalent of them doing to the US or Britain, well shit, I don’t even know. Stuff like “incinerating Manchester” or “starving Boston to death” wouldn’t begin to cover it. I’d like to see a book about the postwar decisions actually, and how much of it was Germany being a counterpoint for West vs USSR. Obviously the path we took was the correct path, but I sort of wonder how we got there. 

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