- Area: Humanities
- Program: History
- Type of Writing: Critique/Evaluation
- Type of Writing: Essay (Analytical, Interpretive)
- Course Level: 1000
- Year: 2019
- Paper ID: H.H.C.E.188.8.131.529
Document Analysis #6
Discuss at least 3 of the major differences between the Soviet view of the United States and the American perception of the Soviet Union and why they are significant. Are these differences still relevant today and why?
The United States and the Soviet Union, once allies were now on opposing sides after World War II. They clashing between the two over a variety of issues has caused the two to have different perceptions of each other. The different perspectives of how one government views the other is significant because it eventually impacts the decisions each one will make based on the others execution of plan or choices toward a national issue and what not. Though there are many differences between how the two view each other, I will share three major differences and the significance it has leading to today.
The Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.) perceived the U.S. as “imperialists, having no mercy- especially because of the atomic bombing- and materialistics.” (Class Lecture). These are three major differences between the two. However there are also different perceptions coming from the U.S. towards the Soviet Union. A couple of perceptions may include the Soviet Union being “aggressive and restrictive”. (Class Lecture).
The Soviet Union perceived the U.S. as “imperialists” because of wanting to extend their country’s power whether it be through diplomacy or military force. “In Germany, the United States, is taking measures to strengthen reactionary forces for the purpose of opposing democratic reconstruction.” (Novikov Telegram). Not only is this directed toward limiting the international role of the USSR in the postwar world, but it also displays insistence on accompanying this policy with completely inadequate measures for the demilitarization of Germany. (Novikov Telegram). There is also “the policy of the American government with regard to the USSR is also direct at limiting or dislodging the influence of the Soviet Union from neighboring countries.” or also known as the “hard- line” policy.(Novikov Telegram). The Soviet Union’s perception toward the U.S. being “imperialists” isn’t exactly wrong to say the least, especially considering that such a policy is intended to “weaken and overthrow the democratic governments in power in countries which are friendly toward the USSR, and replace them in the future with new governments that would obediently carry out a policy dictated from the U.S.” (Novikov Telegram).
Another perception toward the U.S. from the Soviet Union is that the Americans have “no mercy” especially since the atomic bomb. This could relate to their perception of the U.S. being “imperialists”. Because the U.S. seek power and expansion through military force, being feared by other countries is one way to achieve that power. This may include being involved in wars which are never pretty, and with a strong military force, the U.S. has built a reputation off of its strength, therefore looking or seeming “merciless” to others, including the USSR. “It must continue to regard the Soviet Union as a rival, not a partner, in the political arena. It must continue to expect that Soviet policies will reflect no abstract love of peace and stability, no real faith in the possibility of a permanent happy coexistence of the Socialist and capitalist worlds” (The Sources of Soviet Conduct). While also considering that the U.S. will continue to look at the USSR as a rival influence and power even though that they were once allies before World War 11 shows how, uncaring they could be towards the USSR regime.
The last two perceptions of the U.S. being viewed as “imperialists” and “having no mercy”, both play into the final perspective of the U.S. also being “materialistic”. We are a country that is power hungry to an extent, or maybe even in most cases. We are driven by money also because with money comes that power, it may not be all the time, but it happens enough. The U.S. care value things that could be bought by money and therefore avert more attention to what we have an could possibly gain and focus on producing more, only to consume it. Considering that America is one of the top on the list at consuming goods, from this alone you could say that we a materialistic nation.
Now onto the flipside, the U.S. perceived the Soviet Union as “aggressive” for some reasons. One of these reasons may include the fact that “the Soviet armed forces are located on the territory of Germany and other formerly hostile countries, thus guaranteeing that these countries will not be used again for an attack on the USSR.” (Novikov Telegram). This made the USSR’s international position stronger than it was in the prewar period. Being involved with hostile countries or formerly hostile countries such as Bulgaria, Finland, Hungara, and Romania, democratic reconstruction has established regimes that have undertaken to strengthen and maintain friendly relations with the Soviet Union. (Novikov Telegram). Not only does it maintain the agreement on friendships, but also mutual assistance. Making allies and agreements to friendship and mutual assistance to hostile countries are positive to the Soviet regime and strengthens them in a way, creating the idea of them now becoming more “aggressive”.
The U.S. also viewed the Soviet Union as being “restrictive”. This is restrictive through a societal or economic means. “Once a given party line has been laid down on a given issue of current policy, the whole Soviet governmental machine, including the mechanism of diplomacy, moves inexorably along the prescribed path, like a persistent toy automobile wound up and headed in a given direction, stopping only when it meets with some unanswerable force.” (The Sources of Soviet Conduct). With that being said, the Soviet Union believes that a capitalist world are antagonistic to the soviet regime, and therefore also “to the interest of the peoples it controls.” (The Sources of Soviet Conduct). This can be restrictive socially in a way because the soviet regime did not encourage innovation or individual goals.
These differences are still relevant today as they have been in the past. The U.S. still has a great reputation of dominance because of our military strength and armed forces. Considering that the U.S. still has enemies whether it be with the Soviet Union or not, the perceptions of being viewed as “imperialists” or “materialistic” still stand for other countries. These views may still stand through countries who are not our allies, or rather enemies. These differences will continue to remain because of the reputation that we have as a nation. We are looked upon the world because of our dominance. These differences only made us stand where we are today, sure they may change over time, but not so much.
- The Novikov Telegram. 1946.
- The Sources of Soviet Conduct. George Kennan. 1947.
- Class Lecture.