We are evidently at the beginning of the third major effort since 1945 to establish whether or not it is possible for the Soviet Union and the West to live together on this planet under conditions of tolerable stability and low tension. The first effort occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War; the second, in the years after Stalin's death; and historians may well date the third from the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis of last October.
Sandwiched between these intervals of diplomatic exploration and negotiation were two massive, sustained Soviet offensives: Stalin's, of 1946-51; and Khrushchev's, of 1958-62. To understand where we are and what the prospects and conditions for success may be, it is, perhaps, worth recalling briefly this familiar sequence which takes on a certain shapeliness with the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight.
It starts, one might properly assume, with Stalingrad. From the time when victory appeared certain, Moscow prepared actively to exploit the confusion that the war itself and the postwar years would inevitably bring. Communist rule in Russia was born of such confusion; and, as the Second World War came to a close, it became increasingly clear that, despite vast destruction within Russia, its rulers looked to the postwar period as an interval of opportunity for expansion, based in part on the disposition of the Red Army and the leverage this provided.
How far expansion could go depended, of course, on how the then overwhelming power of the United States would be deployed. In 1945-46 Stalin evidently judged that the United States was, in fact, behaving as President Roosevelt told him it would behave when he predicted the United States could not maintain troops abroad for more than two years after the war. We negotiated about Europe and China against a background of hasty, drastic, unilateral demobilization.
Assessing his opportunities hopefully, Stalin made clear in his tough speech of February 9, 1946, that he regarded the days ahead as a period for
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