The Cold War Never Ended
From the desk of Fjordman on Mon, 2009-11-02 22:11
It is now almost twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. But did it really end, and did we win it? Look at the situation in Europe today, where many of the former Communist countries in the eastern half of Europe are freer and safer than many of those in the western half of Europe. Instead of an Iron Curtain we now have an Iron Veil of Multiculturalism, and Western Europe is on the wrong side of it this time around. Did we trade the USSR for the EUSSR? If we really "beat" Marxism, how come Marxists and Leftists of all stripes virtually control Western media and academia a generation later, and why does the USA have a Marxist-inspired President Obama?
Michael Meyer, the author of The Year That Changed the World: The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall, is exercised by the onerous Cold War “myths” that we all cling to, yet he never engages or identifies those who supposedly propagate them. He rightly denounces the America-centric view of Cold War history but barely mentions the pivotal role played by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in reunification. France’s Francois Mitterand, Great Britain’s Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II are similarly absent from the narrative. (As Polish dissident writer Adam Michnik later observed, “It will be a long time before anyone fully comprehends the ramifications of [the Pope’s] nine-day visit” to occupied Poland in 1979.)
In place of the old myths, Meyer erects new ones: “For all the problems they faced…most East Germans had no desire to leave their country,” he insists, “contrary to the impression fostered in the West. Many if not most were perfectly comfortable with the socialist system that guaranteed them work, low-cost housing and free lifelong health care and schooling.” There is no source for this fantastical claim. That a certain measure of nostalgia for the East German dictatorship exists from a distance of 20 years is undeniable, but an opinion poll taken in 1990 showed that 91 percent of East Germans favored unification and, by definition, the dissolution of the “worker’s state.”
Reagan, of course, had his flaws, as voluminously documented by scholars, enemies, and sympathizers alike. But Gorbachev, Time’s “Man of the Decade” for the 1980s (unlike Reagan) and a Nobel Peace Prize winner (unlike Reagan), often escapes similar scrutiny. Meyer is more interested in score settling, pointing out that many hard-liners in the Reagan and Bush administrations, several of whom later joined George W. Bush’s administration, misjudged Gorbachev’s seriousness.
Gorbachev’s economic reforms were vague and ad hoc, and they wound up being tremendous failures. His chief foreign policy aide, Anatoly Chernyaev, grumbled during glasnost that Gorbachev “has no concept of where we are going. His declaration about socialist values, the ideals of October, as he begins to tick them off, sound like irony to the cognoscenti. Behind them—emptiness.” As historian Robert Service has observed, Gorbachev intended glasnost as “a renaissance of Leninist ideals,” while his books “still equivocated on Stalin.” He avoided repeats of 1956 and 1968, when the Soviet military ruthlessly cracked down on its restive satellites, but did send troops to murder residents of Vilnius, Tblisi, and Baku.
Both Mann and Meyer are correct that without Gorbachev, the end of the Cold War wouldn’t have arrived so quickly. And Vaclav Havel is surely right when he argues that Gorbachev’s “historical achievement is enormous: communism would have collapsed without him anyway, but it might have happened 10 years later, and in God knows how wild and bloody a fashion.” But Mann’s case is convincing that the man of the decade, the great peace laureate, destroyed the Soviet Union “unintentionally,” not as an expression of any democratic desires.
It is difficult to accept heroic portrayals of those who were complicit in the mass enslavement and murder of their unwilling subjects. The Soviet Union’s leaders, out of at least partial desperation, opened the door to democracy a crack, and their restless captives barged right through. On the other side they found VHS players, compact discs, supermarkets overflowing with fresh produce, press freedom, the hurly-burly of markets, multiparty democracy—and an army of fallible historians, journalists, politicians, and pundits, all desperate to prove that they had been right all along
To Fjordman, Natalie, Marc Frans RE: Cold War
Submitted by Kapitein Andre on Sat, 2009-11-07 04:13.
The Cold War was one of many such confrontations between great powers and coalitions. Ideology played its usual role, however, Western foreign policy was not pro–liberty or democracy as much as anti–communist, and more specifically anti–Soviet. The West pursued a realpolitik approach to confronting the Soviet Union, actively supporting fascists, Islamists and taking full advantage of the Sino–Soviet schism. Even Reagan, who tried to inject morality into foreign policy – paving the way for the humanitarian intervention of the Clinton and Bush (arguably) presidencies, and New Labour in the UK – was notoriously “realistic” when it came to suppressing Cuban and communist influence in the Southern Hemisphere.
If the Cold War was purely ideological, than the Russian Federation would have come in from the cold by now. Unfortunately, Russians cannot forget their pre–Bolshevik role as the “gendarme of Europe”. And Washington would of course, not be courting Central Asian dictators and kleptocrats.
1945 ushered in a bipolar world, where once there had been a multipolar one. However, even during the 1960s, this configuration began to revert. Superpower status is not omnipotence. The Great War was generally seen in terms of the Western democracies against Hun barbarism, German superiority over their inferior Slavic subjects, and so on, and so forth. Fjordman has gone to great lengths to prove that American overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are part and parcel of a war with Islam that dates back to the 7th Century. Socialists complain of the “Fourth Reich”, etc. Others see the East–West Schism and the Reformation as still playing out, and Zhou Enlai claimed it was “too early tell” the impact of the French Revolution. Logically, either everything is its own event or none is…
“The world is as it is: fallen. Men are what they are: sinners.” – Perhaps atheling might appreciate this morsel of 17th Century Catholic wisdom
Submitted by marcfrans on Wed, 2009-11-04 04:28.
I agree with Natalie. The Cold War was indeed a left-right ideological struggle, and it was a world-wide struggle between two ideologies centered, respectively, in the USSR and in the USA, with countless surrogates and 'spectators'.
As usual, Fjordman makes fascinating comments, but the title of the article does not match its content. The Cold War did end, and many possibilities opened up.
Moscow's attempts in the 1990's to integrate into the West have failed for a variety of reasons, and the Putin regime has redifined its objectives. It has returned to the traditional default position of Russian nationalism of behaving as an independent great power (with soft power in its immediate neigborhood and 'equality' with the world's major power centers: China, the EU and the USA). The model that it has chosen - growth (based on natural resources) without development, capitalism without democracy, and great-power politics without international appeal - is doomed to fail too.
Natalie is also right about the American mainstream media. They are definitely not "fairly balanced". In fact they are ludicrously 'unbalanced' today, but some are slowly getting better as the public wants real change (as opposed to the empty slogans of Obamamaniacs).
To Fjordman RE: The Cold War
Submitted by Kapitein Andre on Tue, 2009-11-03 16:46.
You can't define the Cold War as a left-right ideological struggle. You're ignoring resurgent Russian imperialism beneath a Marxist-Leninist facade, as well as regional ambitions on the part of China, Cuba and North Korea. Moreover, the center-left was a reaction by liberals to perceived injustices, and not so much an extension of revolutionary socialism.
Western academia has been leftist in the main since the early 1960s, and the American media is fairly balanced if not informative.
Re: Kapitein :
Submitted by mpresley on Wed, 2009-11-04 14:26.
Submitted by Kapitein : ...the American media is fairly balanced if not informative.
The US mainstream media (CBS, NBC, ABC, NYT, NPR) cannot be trusted for any consistently fair reporting. In fact, the NYT is embarrassing in its Obama shill, followed by the television networks. Most smaller local newspapers are written on the intellectual and literary level of a junior high school newsletter, with locally produced "news" stories appealing to naive emotions; they are, essentially, little more than advertisements for more liberal welfarism disguised as news stories. Their "hard" news stories are usually sourced from AP (or another major outlet)--sometimes pro-Obama, but decidedly not conservative pro-American. NPR is to news as Velveeta is to cheese. Fox News is an aberration, but making money as far as I know. The WSJ typically holds a neo-conservative foreign policy editorial stance, generally supports the Mexican invasion, and is a mixed bag on the banking/bailout question, but more conservative than not. In each of the above media, certain important questions are not allowed (for instance, questions of race and IQ).
To: Kapitein Andre
Submitted by Natalie on Wed, 2009-11-04 02:11.
Sorry, but you're completely wrong. The Cold War was a left-right ideological struggle. And how can you say that about the American media? Our media is so biased it's disgusting. Did you not pay attention to the recent coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign? Have you not been paying attention to the media coverage of the Obama presidency? In case you've missed it, Obama can do no wrong in the media's eyes. We can also look further back to the coverage of the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s. The media then displayed an extremely anti-Serb, pro-Muslim bias.
Submitted by kappert on Tue, 2009-11-03 08:58.
The article zooms in far too much on individuals. The crampling of the Wall was very much an effort of 'the people'. A nice counter-article would be 'Ridding the World of the Sickness of Pacifism' by William Blum (http://killinghope.org/bblum6/aer74.html)
Submitted by Frank Lee on Tue, 2009-11-03 04:50.
Fjordman writes: "It is difficult to accept heroic portrayals of those who were complicit in the mass enslavement and murder of their unwilling subjects." If only it were true that the enslaved and murdered in the Soviet Union were unwilling subjects, but it seems most were quite willing, hard as that is to understand. The party hacks who interrogated and purged their comrades knew they would likely be among the next tranche of victims, and the non-Party victims often admired and honored the man who was persecuting them. The whole Stalinist nightmare was truly surreal.
Submitted by Natalie on Mon, 2009-11-02 23:10.
Interesting essay as usual, Fjordman. You make many good points about our switch with the former Communist bloc.
I was of course intrigued by your comments about Gorbachev. The man is often lauded as the great destroyer of the Soviet Union, yet his intention was not to destroy the Soviet Union. He simply wanted to reform it and, luckily for us, the Soviet system could not stand any of his reforms and therefore collapsed in on itself. This is well-documented in Archie Brown's excellent book The Gorbachev Factor (http://www.amazon.com/Gorbachev-Factor-Archie-Brown/dp/0192880527).