In Part 1 of this two-part series (click here), after an introduction about the setting for the October 25 Revolution of 1917 (November 7, 1917 on the "new," Gregorian, Calendar), I noted that for the entire 75 years of its existence, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics faced what can be called "The 75 Years War Against the Soviet Union." In Part 1, I very briefly reviewed that setting and what has happened to the development of socialism world-wide in the past 100 years. I also listed many of the major historical events which, ranging from diplomatic and economic isolation, to a refusal to join together to confront a common enemy, to continuing decades-long overt and covert pressure for "regime change" (finally achieved at the end of the War), to open military attack and engagement, taken together made up the War.
In this Part 2 I discuss each one of those events in a bit of detail. Of course, as I noted, a full treatment would require much more space than we have on OpEdNews. Indeed, a book could well be written on the subject. But this can be considered a start on a subject which has been widely ignored. However, in my view it has to be taken into account in any accounting of what happened in and to that great socio-historical experiment known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The Major Elements of the 75 Years War:
1. What has been called "The Intervention," on the side of the "White Russian" resistance to the Red Revolution, began almost immediately after its initial success in overthrowing the Provisional Government. It was an armed counter-revolution led by the principal capitalist/imperialist power of the time, Great Britain. Winston Churchill was a leading promoter of the Intervention. Among the other nations involved were the United States, Japan, Romania, China, Greece, Serbia, Italy, and Canada.
2. After the end of the Russian Civil War in 1921 (and the withdrawal from Soviet territory of the Intervening nations), the Western Powers were slow to recognize the Soviet government. The United States was the last to do so, in 1933.
3. As the Nazi threats to peace in Europe developed in the mid-1930s, the Soviet Union offered on a number of occasion to negotiate an anti-Nazi pact, primarily with the two major Western powers, France and Great Britain. They consistently refused. Indeed, in both countries there was considerable pro-Nazi political sentiment.
4. The "non-intervention" policy of the "Western Democracies" (including the United States) in the Spanish Civil War made the continuing anti-Soviet policy clear. One major factor in these Western powers' refusal even to send arms to the Spanish Republican government was that the Spanish Communist Party was a significant component of the governing coalition of the Spanish Republic. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany not only sent weapons but also fought on the side of the Spanish fascist rebellion. The Soviet Union played a limited role in supplying arms to the Republic.
5. Then came Munich . With Nazi Germany threatening to invade Czechoslovakia the Soviet Union offered military assistance to the Czechs, as well as the British and the French, in order to thwart the invasion. In fact, the Red Force was warming up on airfields just across the Czech border, ready to fly to the aid of the Czech army. But for Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Great Britain, it was more important to keep Hitler pointing east, towards the Soviet Union, a declared enemy from the time of Mein Kampf--- the famous "Drang Nach Osten" --- than it was to save the Czechs from the Nazis. After vainly trying, on numerous occasions, to get the British and the French to sign a joint defense pact against Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union finally gave up. With the signing of the "Nazi-Soviet pact" on August 25, 1939, they bought time against what they knew was eventually going to come from the Nazis.
6. The Nazi invasion --- Operation Barbarossa --- was launched on June 22, 1941. It was the only "hot" component of The 75 Years War.
7. The delay by the United States and Great Britain in opening of the Second Front in France on June 6, 1944, was interpreted by some as being content to let the Soviet Union bleed, especially after it had won what came to be recognized as the turning point of the Second World War, victory in the Battle of Stalingrad, on February 2, 1943. In the course of the War, all told, the Soviet Union lost between 25 and 27 million dead, military and civilian. Total U.S. military casualties in World War II amounted to about 400,000.
8. There are claims that a resumption of anti-Soviet military policy was under development before WWII was over. On the fringe of such an attempt, it was well-known that when the right-wing U.S. General George Patton captured large numbers of German troops on the Southern flank of the U.S. front, thinking that his army, with them, might keep going East, he first had them stack their weapons rather turning them over for disposal. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower put an end to that maneuver as soon as he heard of it.
9. The atomic bombing of Japan was not necessary for the US to win there. A major factor was the aim of U.S. policy to keep the Soviet Union a) out of Japan and b) from enabling the Korean Resistance to take over the whole peninsula from the Japanese occupiers. As World War II was coming to a close, the Soviet Union was poised to invade Japan and its then colonial possession, Korea, on August 8, 1945. One motivation for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) was to foreclose the possibility that the Red Army would establish a foothold on Japanese territory (the first landings were to be on the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido) and would quickly take over the whole of the Korean Peninsula.
10. Stalin wanted peaceful co-existence, to occur after the end of World War II (see Chap. 10 of Stalin's Wars, by Geoffrey Roberts, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006). The Western Powers would have none of it.
11. In the immediate post-war period, there was interference by the Western powers to prevent the development of pro-Soviet governments in the non-Soviet sphere of influence in Europe: U.S. interference in Italian election in 1948, and British intervention in the Greek civil war. (The Communists there had borne the brunt of the guerilla war waged during the Nazi occupation and wanted their rightful place in the post-war government. Denied that, war broke out.)
12. Churchill's famous "Iron Curtain" speech of March 5, 1946, just 6 months after the conclusion of the Second World War, with the surrender of Japan, has always been shaped by the Western powers as describing something that the Soviet Union under Stalin had done. Since Stalin was still hoping for the establishment of peaceful co-existence between the Soviet Union and the Western Powers, that speech was really the opening major salvo --- from the Western side --- in what became the "Cold War," the continuation of what became the 75 Years War that lasted until the final collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992.
13. U.S. policy Western Europe confirmed for the USSR that the Cold War was fully underway: unilateral German currency reform; setting up the German Federal Republic; the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
14. The Hungarian Uprising of 1956 is always presented in the West as failed revolt by democratic forces against the communist government of Hungary. From the perspective of the Hungarian Communist side, however, the picture was rather different (The Truth About Hungary: Facts and Eyewitness Accounts, Moscow, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1957). From that perspective, it was a neo-fascist revolt by the forces that had ruled Hungary from 1919 to 1945 (first under the world's first fascist dictator, Admiral Miklos Horthy, at the end under the even-more vicious Arrow Cross, who were hanging known communists from street lamps in downtown Budapest). That had to be put down, even it meant calling in Soviet tanks.
15. The "Cuban-Missile Crisis:" See Appendix I.
16. In the late 1970s, there was a secular revolt in Afghanistan and free elections were held for the first time. The Communist candidate, with Soviet backing (in this strategically-located, neighboring country), was elected. He proved to be not a very effective leader. And the so the Soviets promoted a replacement for him, provoking a certain amount of unrest. Led by his notoriously anti-Soviet National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, U.S. President Jimmy Carter determined to begin providing major support for a wide variety of anti-Communist or just anti-government Afghani as well as foreign forces (one group of fundamentalist Saudis was led by the future famous Osama bin Laden). Brzezinski famously said: "we can give them their Viet Nam." And they did. It turned out to be one of the last phases of the 75 Years War.
17. All of this, and many other events of the Cold War, lead to the Reaganite Final Arms Race of the 1980s, which in the end spent the Soviet Union into the ground, and collapse.
The ultimate aim of Western Imperialism, the destruction of the Soviet Union was achieved. Of course, Russia has remained in place, and still functions to some extent as a rival to Western Imperialism. But it is in the form of a "clash of capitalisms," nothing like that grand Soviet historical experiment, aiming to replace capitalism with socialism.
Appendix I: The Cuban "Missile Crisis"
The untold story of the "Cuban Missile Crisis" was another one of those "buried stories" that litter American history when they are inconvenient truths. In the summer of 1962 I happened to be doing part of my internship at a hospital in Western New Jersey. For a time I dated a nurse who happened to have a brother who was captain in the United States Army. When he was home on leave during that summer I happened to spend some time with him. He was hardly political and seemed very happy to be in the Army. I asked what he did and he told me "oh, we are getting ready to invade Cuba," just like that. Very matter of fact. Sort of like Sunday in the Park with George.
All up and down the East Coast, he told me, a major invasion force was being assembled. If Kennedy was going to invade Cuba he was going to do it following an earlier version of the Powell Doctrine. No half-baked venture like the totally ill-planned Bay of Pigs fiasco. He was going to hit hard, (just like his father advised FDR not to do in the face of the Hitlerian threat, right up until Pearl Harbor, by which time he was gone). This was well before there was any "crisis," well before there was any public notice of the situation.
When the "crisis" did occur, it was obvious to me at the time, that what had happened was that the Soviet Union and Cuba had gotten wind of the very real and major invasion threat, had at Castro's request demanded that the US stand down, that the US did not, that Khrushchev then sent the missiles in the direction of Cuba probably never intending to actually set them up there. By so doing he did achieve his goal, and of course Castro's, of aborting the US invasion. That is, they won. Neither Cuba nor the USSR cared a whit about how the US spun it at the time, and have spun it ever since. The US invasion was thwarted; that's what counted.
And no, neither do I remember the officer's name nor would he likely ever have confirmed the story to me after October, 1962. But tell me the story he did, as if it was something that was going to happen in just the normal course of events. Oh, and by the way, within the last few years this history was confirmed in full to me by a friend who was a young West Point grad at the time and later served in Viet Nam, who was personally familiar with the developments described.
(Article changed on November 15, 2017 at 13:06)
(Article changed on November 15, 2017 at 17:41)