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Hy 116 Russia Foreign Policy Notes

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Fahd Humayun HY116

The Soviet Road from War to War

How consistent were the objectives of Soviet foreign policy from 1928 to 1939?

The argument that the objectives of Soviet foreign policy during the

interwar

period

were

consistent

is

not

palpable.

The

Comintern's foreign policy initiatives between 1928 and 1939 were marked by idiosyncrasy and vicissitude, with historians such as Ahmann,

Haslam,

Hiligruber

and

Ward,

all

having

their

own

interpretations as to the actual focus of this foreign policy. As such,

this

fluctuation

of

foreign

policy

objectives

can

be

explained by discussing how communist Russia steered through four different waters: the Socialist Dream and its application abroad, Russia's own security interests, how Russia courted the West and played the Collective Security card, and finally how she partook in the enigmatic detente with Berlin. The Socialist Dream was supposed to be the basic driver of Soviet Utopia"

foreign 1

Hiligruber

policy:

the

concept

of

creating

both at home and abroad. Robert Tucker 3

a 2

"Socialist and Andreas

approach the question of Soviet interests in 1939 by

looking at Stalin's speeches and announcements from 1925 onwards, stressing the ideological interests of the USSR, that is, the aim of spreading the socialist revolution abroad.

A good example of

how Russia tried to embed socialist principles throughout Europe is the Soviet monetary assistance to British workers in their general strike in 1926. Marx had believed that Europe was the Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, Russia And The World Since 1917, (England, 1998) p.18 Robert Tucker, 'The Emergence of Stalin's Foreign Policy', Slavic Review 36:4, (1977), pp. 563-589 3 Arthur Hillgruber, Der Hitler-Stalin Pakt, (Berlin 1988), pp. 219-238. 1 2

"natural

home"

of

the

Socialist

revolution.

The

concept

of

"exporting" revolution abroad was tied deeply to Soviet foreign policy roots. The Wall Street Crash of 1929, according to Robert Tucker, pushed Stalin to say "we are living now in an epoch of wars

and

Kennedy-Pipe, capitalist

.

however,

Marxist-Leninist became

4 revolutions"

states

The

argument

is

that

thinking

with

in

the

of

Stalin his

1930's.

historian

discarded policy

World

of

Caroline

vestiges wooing

revolution

of the

gradually

something in the nature of an advertising slogan, and

between 1928 and the outbreak of the Second World War, revolution and the achievement of communism abroad, which was arguably the one key constant in Soviet foreign policy objectives, began to fade

5 .

How

to

balance

state

interests

against

Bolshevism's

commitment to European revolution was a problem that dogged the Communist party into the 1930's, and it was this balancing act which brought about a seemingly unintelligible and disconnected route in Soviet foreign affairs.

Soviet security interests can also be blamed for leading it astray from the Marxist-Leninist approach to foreign affairs. "By 1933, the revolutionary Bolshevik experiment had been usurped by 6

a security-minded Stalinist regime"

The argument here is that

throughout the decades in question, Soviet Russia was interested in itself and itself only. According to Stalin, "Our orientation in the past and our orientation at the present time is toward the 7

USSR, and toward the USSR alone" encirclement,

was

Soviet press"

8 "ever

present

, The concept of capitalist

in

Stalin's

speeches

and

the

. The preservation of Soviet Power by any means

possible became the overriding task

9 . Robert Tucker argues that

Robert Tucker, 'The Emergence of Stalin's Foreign Policy', Slavic Review 36:4, (1977), pp. 563-589 Adam Ulam, Expansion and Co-existence: The History of Soviet Foreign Policy (England, 1968), p. 129 6 Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, Russia And The World Since 1917, (England, 1998) p.53 7 Robert Donaldson, The Foreign Policy of Russia, 3rd Edition ( USA, 2005) p.60 8 J Harris, 'Encircled by Enemies: Stalin's Perceptions of the Capitalist World', Journal of Strategic Studies 30: 3 (2007) pp. 513-545 9 Teddy Uldricks, Diplomacy and Ideology: The Origins of Soviet Foreign Relations (California, 1979) p.147 4 5

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