Posted 28 декабря 2021, 10:50
Published 28 декабря 2021, 10:50
Modified 24 декабря 2022, 22:37
Updated 24 декабря 2022, 22:37
The militaristic rhetoric of the Kremlin, which is becoming louder and louder every day, for many, not only in the West, but also in Russia, causes surprise and even amazement: does the West really dream of destroying Russia? If this is so, then why did he not do it before, since there were very convenient moments for this in history. It is clear that very often, with the help of war, the authorities of a country want to solve socio-economic problems that they are not able to solve in a peaceful life. But still? Is there a rational grain in the Kremlin's fears, or are they entirely a propaganda move?
Dmitry Nekrasov, a political analyst who knows firsthand the specifics of Kremlin thinking, reflects on this in his publication: “The more I listen to the comments of various Russian officials about their own 'ultimatum', the more I think that, no matter how funny it sounds, they really are afraid of 'NATO aggression'. Thus calculation, and cynicism, and political play in all this bluff, of course, are present. But they perceive the idea that the West is actually hatching some aggressive plans of conquest against Russia, not as an invented fiction, but as a very real threat. (There is no need to confuse guarantees to the former parts of the empire against Moscow's interference in their internal affairs, with aggression against Russia itself. The first is more than real and is also perceived in the Kremlin as a significant threat, it's funny that they believe in the reality of the second). I remember a story about how Reagan, after a conversation with one of the Soviet leaders, said to Thatcher something like: "They need a psychiatrist, these crazy people really think that WE want to attack them".
The reasons for these irrational fears are not obvious. I tried to trace their origins and realized that before the revolution, the phobia about "a country surrounded by enemies" was rather absent. Yes, there were many attempts to present their own aggression as a defensive war, but so many have happened. But there was no constant expectation of an attack from the united West. I will try to trace the development of this phobia / myth over several historical episodes.
Episode one. “Intervention” is the birth of a myth
We all know from school that during the civil war, the "interventionists" tried to strangle the young Soviet republic and pull the country apart. In reality, the notorious "intervention of the 14 powers" consisted of:
1. The intervention of the Austro-German-Turkish troops, which was a continuation of the First World War, and by no means a campaign specifically against the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks did not have any serious clashes with the "central powers", and they should not have happened, for most of this "intervention" was carried out in full accordance with the terms of the Brest-Litovsk Peace. The Entente literally saved the Soviets from this intervention (albeit without pursuing a similar goal).
2. Interventions of White Poles, White Finns, and other former parts of the empire fighting for their own independence. With the same success as Pilsudski, it was possible to enroll Petliura with Makhno and the Basmachs in the "interventionists". There were also "White-Czechs" by chance, who ended up in the territory covered by the civil war, and trying to get out of there by any means. It would be more correct to call them "outsiders".
3. Actually the intervention of the Entente and the Allies, which:
a) with the exception of the Japanese and Romanian ones, it never even came close to pursuing the goals of seizing Russian territories. Moreover, no one so consistently defended the inadmissibility of the seizure of the territories of the former Russian Empire by foreign powers like the United States and England. The preservation of the Far East as part of the USSR is, in principle, the merit of Woodrow Wilson. If he had not been so principled, the Far East (and maybe eastern Siberia) would have remained a Japanese protectorate.
b) after the October coup, the Entente made an official decision to avoid direct clashes with the Bolsheviks. Such clashes among the Anglo-French-Americans on any significant scale did not happen. The losses of the great powers numbered in the hundreds from all causes. (Slightly more serious battles were with the Bolsheviks among the Romanians and the Japanese, but even this is a trifle on the scale of the civil war).
c) at the first stage, the main goal was to prevent the seizure of military warehouses by the Germans or the Baku industries by the Turks, and subsequently - to ensure the functioning of the transport infrastructure and evacuation (in the case of the Americans, also to prevent the annexation of the Far East by the Japanese). The task of strangling the Bolsheviks by military methods was never set even in a nightmare.
It is clear that the leadership of the Anglo-French-Americans did not like the Bolsheviks and preferred more civilized alternatives to them. Supplied the whites with weapons (mainly what was left from the war and do not mind) and so on. However, in the course of the civil war in Russia, the great powers, and first of all the Anglo-Americans, by ACTION directly demonstrated their unwillingness to either seize Russian territories or to seriously exert themselves to destroy the Bolsheviks.
And then the possibilities were absolute. One Czech corps was able to take control of vast territories. The Polish campaign demonstrated the real capabilities of the Red Army to fight against any regular troops. I will simply quote Lenin: "There is no doubt that the most insignificant exertion of the forces of these three powers [Britain, France and Japan] would have been quite enough to defeat us in a few months, if not a few weeks".
But the great powers DID NOT WANT to do this. There was the only reasonable person, Churchill, who persuaded Loyd George and Clemenceau to allocate a couple of corps to take Moscow (this decision would have prevented many tens of millions of deaths in the twentieth century, but this is not about that now), but the opinion of the elites and the public opinion of the great powers was categorically against such actions.
Despite all of the above, the myth of "a country surrounded by enemies" arose precisely after the civil one. Many factors converged here: the mythology of external interventionists added legitimacy to the Bolsheviks and facilitated mobilization; one of the basic tenets of the Marxist religion was the inevitability of a "class struggle", and devoutly believing Marxists believed that the bourgeois simply had to fight their class enemies; Voluntarily or involuntarily, all the characters were guided by the example of the great French revolution: there was a reactionary intervention, so here it should have been.
In our main question about “how much they really believed that the West wanted to attack them”, no obvious answer can already be given here. On the one hand, the leadership of the Bolsheviks could not help but understand that no West was seriously at war with them, and even on the contrary treated them softer than any reasonable expectations, but dogmatism and their own propaganda gradually convinced them of a different picture of the world.
Episode two: "military alert of 1927". Myth affects reality
Throughout the 1920s, the USSR was actively fanning the world revolution. Supports real armed uprisings in different countries, finances terrorists, makes attempts to actively intervene, for example, in Afghanistan and Iran (a sequential textbook should have called them armed interventions), supplies not only weapons, but also military advisers to the Chinese communists, all the way to India actively spent on anti-British propaganda and further down the list.
In response, the evil bourgeoisie, primarily the United States, during the famine of the 1920s, save several million Soviet lives with unprecedented food aid. And Britain, in whose colonies openly subversive work is being carried out, bursts out ...with a diplomatic note. In general, the West is behaving much softer than one would expect in response to the behavior of the Soviet government.
One way or another, it is obvious that “strangling” the economically strengthened and consolidated Soviet state of the 1927 model, which had recovered from the shocks of the civil war, was an order of magnitude more difficult task than to do the same in 1919. If they didn’t then - why try in 1927- ohm? Moreover, there was no real reason to believe that Britain of 1927 was preparing for war with the USSR in principle. Military spending during this period is reduced, any talk of a response to Soviet subversive activities is reduced to trade and diplomatic sanctions.
Nevertheless, in 1927, the full power of the Soviet propaganda machine begins to fan the threat of an imminent and imminent war with England. In addition to hysteria in the press, military spending is increasing, military exercises are intensifying, and so on. It's funny, but at this moment around the USSR there really are hostile countries that have explicit or hidden territorial claims against it. The same Poland, Japan, Romania. But for some reason they are preparing to fight the USSR with England, which even in a nightmare does not plan any interventions. And if they speak about the threats of the Poles with the Romanians, then as about the servants of British imperialism. Doesn't it look like anything?
The more you read on the topic, the more you understand that it was the Bolsheviks who appointed England as their main enemy for their subjective (ideological) motives. Given that the degree of her real hostility was no more, but rather less than, say, France, whose investors suffered much greater losses from expropriations, and whose press is even more radical.
And again the question: did the Soviet leadership deliberately build this line of propaganda (to be afraid of the Poles is somehow petty) or did they really think that England would inevitably attack them? Here many will talk about the fact that it was Stalin's internal political game, who skillfully used the "military alarm" to strengthen his own apparatus positions. However, the fact that such a completely fictional threat was easily sold suggests that there were reasons for this. Dogmatism again?
It is worth saying a few words about the consequences of "anxiety". Inflating the military threat was an important argument for the implementation of the most radical version of collectivization and accelerated industrialization. Contributed to spy mania and the expansion of repression.
The USSR was the first, 6 years before Hitler came to power, to sharply increase military spending in conditions when the rest of the world (with the exception of Japan) was consistently reducing them. By the mid-1930s, the USSR had more tanks and combat aircraft than the rest of the world combined.
Yes, then it came in handy in the war with Hitler, but it might not have happened. Moreover, it was the rapid military strengthening of the USSR that contributed to the fact that many in Germany before 1933 and among the Anglo-French after 1933 were more inclined to connive at Hitler as a counterweight to the communist threat.
(By the way, this is an extremely interesting alternative-historical branch: what would not have come to power Hitler. It is scary to think of what military superiority the USSR would have achieved by the end of the 30s if Germany had not provoked a general arms race. How would this have been used? the annexation of the Baltic states, to which the West would turn a blind eye as it does now to the Crimea? Would there have been a "Munich conspiracy" with regard to Poland? Or would Stalin not be limited to all this and the story would have ended with the nuclear bombing of Moscow and the Nuremberg trial over criminals from the NKVD? But this is a topic a separate post).
Episode three. Postwar. Myth is a part of reality
In general, during the Second World War, if the Anglo-Americans perceived the USSR as an existential threat, which should definitely be destroyed later, they could:
a) stop Lend-Lease in 1943 immediately after the threat of a quick surrender of the USSR disappeared;
b) concentrate forces first on Japan, allocating a minimum of resources for bombing Germany (and before ¾ of German aviation was always in the West, not to mention the impact of bombing on the capabilities of German industry);
c) wait for the appearance of atomic bombs or simply land later, watching the meat grinder on the eastern front, where German aviation dominates;
In general, if the Anglo-Americans were ready to incur any significant losses / risks for the sake of weakening / subsequent destruction of the USSR, they had every opportunity to accept the surrender of Germany, with a much weaker USSR at a time when the Eastern Front would be somewhere under Smolensk (where he was in fact at the time of the landing in Normandy).
Instead, they, quite the opposite, fulfilled many obligations to the USSR, which they could not fulfill, from symbolic to quite real. But these are trifles. Then, at least a 10-year period began, when at first the Americans had a bomb, but the USSR did not, and then there were orders of magnitude more bombs, while the USSR had no means of delivering charges to the United States at all. As of July 1945, within the framework of the Manhattan Project, it was planned to produce 7 charges per month already in December 1945 and "many times more" in the first half of 1946. Those. at least a hundred bombs could be ready by the end of 1946.
In real history, with the end of the war, production plans were sharply reduced, but in real history, in 1950, the United States had 300 charges against 5, and in 1955, 2,400 against 200. American territory at the Soviets appeared only in the second half of the 50s.
In general, if the Americans really wanted to destroy the USSR by military methods, they had the opportunity to do this for quite a long time with minimal losses (at least for the Americans, actually). With the seriousness of such plans, bombs on Moscow were supposed to fall in 1949 immediately after the news of the Soviet tests. And if they did not fall then, from a rational point of view, it was strange to expect that in 1962 the Americans would suddenly drop them first.
In its turn, Moscow, given the political will, at least twice had an acceptable opportunity to move to a model of much less conflicted coexistence with the West. We all remember that Churchill started the Cold War, but the Fulton speech and the Truman Doctrine were a reaction to very specific actions to Sovietize Eastern Europe, which could have been avoided if the USSR were really afraid of confrontation. Ten years later, Khrushchev, after a meeting in Geneva and a visit to the United States, was half a step away from a full-fledged detente. Nevertheless, the situation is back on track again.
Of course, the "Caribbean crisis", compared to other episodes, looks the most far-fetched. First, there was a very specific and understandable motive for defending a Cuban satellite. Secondly, unlike England in the 1920s or the modern West, the United States of the early 60s really perceived the USSR as an existential threat and really seriously worked out military scenarios (and even brazenly flew over the territory and much like that), although voices about that to carry out a preemptive strike have always remained marginal. Even when all the possibilities existed with relative impunity to wipe out all Soviet cities from the face of the earth in the United States, the "doctrine of containment" prevailed, which did not imply direct confrontation.
However, the Soviet leadership's motive to "counterbalance the American threat" was an important component of the Caribbean escalation. And for some reason this motive prevailed at the moment when the USSR, for the first time in 12 years, acquired the possibility of, if not an equivalent answer, then at least inflicting unacceptable damage to the enemy, which, from the point of view of any logic, reduced the threat. Moreover, of all the periods under consideration, the end of the 1950s was the moment of the USSR's least vulnerability to any measures of “economic strangulation”: oil had not yet been exported, grain had already been exported, and dependence on imported technologies was minimal in the entire Russian history.
And again, during the period of relative weakness, the "resistance to the threat" and its escalation was less than at the moment when the threat objectively decreased, and the forces were somewhat leveled. (Even in the Korean War, escalation occurred through the proxy pad).
Episode four. Late 1970s. The myth predetermines reality
In the late 1970s, the USSR was at the peak of its geopolitical power. Finally, parity has been achieved in the number of charges (from which the USSR will continue to increase, and the United States, due to the complete senselessness of such a number, to reduce). Agreements were reached on missile defense and other elements of "detente". The United States lost the Vietnam War. Anti-war sentiment prevails in the West.
Unlike other episodes, this was not preceded by a moment when "the West could destroy if it wanted to." However, the balance of power in the late 1970s looked much more advantageous for the USSR than it did 10 years earlier. Both the military superiority of the West and the psychological readiness to use this superiority have radically decreased. In principle, no threat existed from the point of view of any rational considerations.
And at a Politburo meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, Defense Minister Ustinov says that: The CIA is making efforts to create a "new Great Ottoman Empire" with the inclusion of the southern republics from the USSR (!!!); on the deployment of American Pershing-class missiles in Afghanistan; on the possibility of using Afghan uranium deposits by Pakistan and Iraq to create nuclear weapons and so on.
The USSR is "in a ring of enemies" and it is necessary to "defend" immediately. In his logic, the invasion of Afghanistan is a defensive action. The question is not what the marshal smoked. And it’s not that the military in any country is always inclined to exaggerate threats in order to knock out additional budgets for themselves. The question does not change: to what extent did he really believe in all these threats and the need to “protect” from them? Why didn't the members of the Politburo offer the marshal to get medical treatment, but decided to start the defense of Afghanistan?
The last episode. Modern.
The plot is already known to everyone, I will not detail it. I will only emphasize that if the collective West really hatched plans for the destruction or seizure of Russia, it would be difficult to come up with a more convenient time than the 1990s. Nobody would have even resisted that much. However, during the period of Russian weakness, the efforts of the West (albeit not as energetic as they could have been) were again aimed at preventing chaos, stabilizing, transferring all nuclear potential to the Russian Federation, loans, humanitarian aid, etc.
And again, during the period of maximum weakness, the topic of the "Western threat" was absent in the public space and the rhetoric of the Kremlin, and again, as soon as the balance of power changed slightly and all rational arguments were formed in favor of making the inhabitants of the Kremlin feel more confident, the topic of the Western threat was again began to swell.
And God bless her with internal propaganda, this threat, the further, the more, seems real to the Russian elite itself. While this vicious circle was repeated several times, the West was more than consistent in its behavior. Time after time he was ready to support in every possible way the desire of the Soviet / Russian satellites for greater independence, and the national borderlands for independence. With much less eagerness and fewer resources, he was ready to support Russian forces proper, declaring adherence to certain values. He was sluggish and ineffective in applying economic sanctions in response to subversion.
But not once, even with all the possibilities, did the Anglo-Americans try to either seize any Russian territories or liquidate the country as a geopolitical entity / military threat. Each time, the doctrine of containment was reproduced in one form or another. And this logic works not only for Russia. Even against a much wilder and militarily weaker North Korea, the West took no action, not only now, but even in the 1990s, when the madmen had not yet acquired a bomb. Churchillies were in short supply before, and current Western politicians are entirely Chamberlains.
The other half of the equation is also stable: in the minds of the Russian leadership, the threat increases each time the less objective prerequisites there are. And even if there is an element of play in every particular political move, in general they really believe in such a threat. For them, NATO enlargement, which is obviously pursuing the goal of guaranteeing against Russian aggression to those who have every reason to fear such aggression, is almost preparing for an invasion.
And if the illogicality of the Soviet leadership can somehow be attributed to ideological dogmatism, then the origins of the fears of the current inhabitants of the Kremlin are completely mysterious.