Cold War series

Tidewater

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As we approach Memorial Day, it might be time to honor a promise I made a while back as Brad closed his "WW II this day" series. I said I would start something about the Cold war. The methodological problems were immediate. First, while a series on WW II from 5 June 44 to 7 May 45 is doable and bounded, the Cold War was decades long and any "anniversary" of one event will step on some other anniversary of an event that happened years prior or years afterwards. Second, while WW II was mostly military, the Cold War was multi-disciplinary. Some military, some political, some diplomatic, some economic, etc.
A friend turned me on to the CNN Cold War series from 1998. It is pretty good. Narrated by Kenneth Branagh, it consists of 24 episodes which are generally thematic by chronology (in other words, the Korea episode is before the Vietnam episode). ~46 minutes per episode, and available for free on Youtube. (Some Romanian guy posted them and Youtube has not pulled them down. Maybe CNN does not care about any copyright infringement.)
So, what I would propose is that interested folks watch one episode per week, and we can discuss here. A week from now, I will post the next episode and we can discuss topics related to that episode. If after a couple of weeks, nobody joins the conversation, I will let this thread die.
First up: "Comrades."
 

B1GTide

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Just finished the first episode - really a preamble summary leading up to the cold war. This is a great idea for a thread.

It is amazing to me just how opposed the US government was to the Bolshevik movement, going so far as to actually assist the opposition in a civil war.
 

Tidewater

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Just finished the first episode - really a preamble summary leading up to the cold war. This is a great idea for a thread.

It is amazing to me just how opposed the US government was to the Bolshevik movement, going so far as to actually assist the opposition in a civil war.
The video does not go into the detail, but the Kerensky government (which overthrew the tsar in February 2017) had promised to stay in the way, which the Western Allies were keen to see happen. So keen, that they sent shiploads of military supplies to Kerensky's government to keep the Russians in the war. Once the Bolshevik putsch happened, the Bolsheviks promised to end Russia's involvement in the war, and Trotsky actually ordered Russian soldiers to "get out of the trenches and go over and fraternize with the enemy."
Well the Western Allies were not happy about that policy and wanted their military supplies back. That was the main impetus for intervention in Russia in 1918. Once the Great War was over, I suspect the British and American troop levels in Russia dropped pretty quickly.
 
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81usaf92

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The video does not go into the detail, but the Kerensky government (which overthrew the tsar in February 2017) had promised to stay in the way, which the Western Allies were keen to see happen. So keen, that they sent shiploads of military supplies to Kerensky's government to keep the Russians in the war. Once the Bolshevik putsch happened, the Bolsheviks promised to end Russia's involvement in the war, and Trotsky actually ordered Russian soldiers to "get out of the trenches and go over and fraternize with the enemy."
Well the Western Allies were not happy about that policy and wanted their military supplies back. That was the main impetus for intervention in Russia in 1918. Once the Great War was over, I suspect the British and American troop levels in Russia dropped pretty quickly.
But you have to wonder if the Bolsheviks ever would’ve taken power if Kornilov didn’t turn his army around and march on Petrograd.
 

Tidewater

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But you have to wonder if the Bolsheviks ever would’ve taken power if Kornilov didn’t turn his army around and march on Petrograd.
Kerensky was in a tough spot. The Allies were pressuring him to continue the war effort against Germany. The Russian people were done with that war.
Personally, I think Kerensky, for the good of his country and the next seventy years of history, should have sued for peace with Germany and gotten out of the war. Russia has never had any experience with anything close to democracy and this was the first opportunity. Kerensky muffed it. That opened the door to the Bolsheviks.
 
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81usaf92

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Kerensky was in a tough spot. The Allies were pressuring him to continue the war effort against Germany. The Russian people were done with that war.
Personally, I think Kerensky, for the good of his country and the next seventy years of history, should have sued for peace with Germany and gotten out of the war. Russia has never had any experience with anything close to democracy and this was the first opportunity. Kerensky muffed it. That opened the door to the Bolsheviks.
Kerensky was probably doomed from the word go, and his only chance was for a successful summer offensive. But even then the Petrograd Soviet was too powerful. But my point is that the Kornilov Affair most likely decided who was going to win power. Because Kerensky had most of the prominent Bolshevik leaders jailed, and Lenin had fled Russia again. But Kornilov turning his army on Petrograd forced Kerensky to make peace with the Bolsheviks to stop a rogue royalist general from staging a coup.
 
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Tidewater

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Kerensky was probably doomed from the word go, and his only chance was for a successful summer offensive. But even then the Petrograd Soviet was too powerful. But my point is that the Kornilov Affair most likely decided who was going to win power. Because Kerensky had most of the prominent Bolshevik leaders jailed, and Lenin had fled Russia again. But Kornilov turning his army on Petrograd forced Kerensky to make peace with the Bolsheviks to stop a rogue royalist general from staging a coup.
Fair point.
Russia was a soup sandwich under a fire hose in 1917.
 
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Tidewater

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Going back to the video, I do not believe that the western Allies were so much anti-Bolshevik (although I do not think many folks were keen on Bolshevism in the west), as opposed to whichever party in Russia declared it was going to quit the war effort.
If the parties had been reversed, if the Bolsheviks had taken charge in February 1917 declared that they were going to remain in the war, and Kerensky had organized a putsch in October/November 1917, then the French, British, and Americans would have sided with the Bolsheviks in the ensuing fight within Russia.
 
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B1GTide

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Going back to the video, I do not believe that the western Allies were so much anti-Bolshevik (although I do not think many folks were keen on Bolshevism in the west), as opposed to whichever party in Russia declared it was going to quit the war effort.
If the parties had been reversed, if the Bolsheviks had taken charge in February 1917 declared that they were going to remain in the war, and Kerensky had organized a putsch in October/November 1917, then the French, British, and Americans would have sided with the Bolsheviks in the ensuing fight within Russia.
Maybe - you make a good point - but the disdain for what they viewed as communism (was really socialism) was clear, even then. The US and Great Britain considered communism to be akin to anarchism.
 
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Tidewater

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The Bolsheviks were so keen on getting out of the war, they signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918. Here is what they gave up:
BrestLitovskbetter.jpeg
I guess the Bolsheviks thought that achieving peace so they could secure power in Russia, was more important. They probably thought they'd get the blue, red, and green areas back once they had sparked the world communist revolution.
Anyway, that is a lot of and to give up.
 
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Tidewater

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One thing worth noting it that the Soviets did honor, to the day, their commitment to joining the war against Japan. This was not a disinterested cooperation with an ally. The Soviets were looking to gain control of Manguria and northern Korea, but they did do what they said they would do.
This operation was the culmination of Soviet war-fighting practice during the war. It was masterful.
800px-Manchuria_Operation_map-es.svg.png
For those interested, David Glantz (the best historian of Soviet military history in the world) wrote an excellent piece on the Soviet Manchurian operation, August Storm.
 
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Tidewater

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To me, it's musty history which I read a long time ago. It's nice for it to come back...
The really cool thing about the CNN series is the people they talked to . The interviewed George Kennan, for Pete's sake. "Mr. Containment." When they got to Vietnam, they interviewed Vo Nguyen Giap. Hard to do better than that when it comes to primary sources.
 

UAH

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Okay, so with that, on to episode 2: Iron Curtain.
I did my homework and followed up on viewing some videos of Russia in the first world War then a couple on Lenin and Trosky.

My impressions of the Iron Curtain video was the discussion of the economies of the big three and Germany after the war.

It painted a rosy picture of the US economy following the war but it was very uneven with the southern farm economy hit with a significant drop in demand at wars end. I believe that cotton prices in particular tumbled after the war. This began the great migration from the south for both blacks and poor whites to the industrial centers of the Midwest in search of jobs. Of course that has completely reversed over the past decades.

My impression of the description of the Great Britain's difficult economy after the war was that this represented the speeding up in the long decline from colonial empire to island nation with very little political or economic impact on world affairs that exist today.

Truman was woefully unprepared for the role he was thrust into and it shows. There is a lot to unpack as his administration began to respond to the "Red Scare" politically and militarily in the Americas and internationally.
 
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Tidewater

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Two things I remember about the era (from my schooling, as I was born in 1963) was that the Soviets began scarfing up everything of value as "reparations" (from Germany, but from other ostensibly "allied" nations as well) The Soviets really got kicked in the groin during that war, but eastern Europe was not in great shape either, and could ill-afford to have the Soviets steal everything of value that had survived the war.
The United States, on the other hand, had suffered next to no industrial damage during the war, and was well-postured to give Europe a helping hand. The pity is that the Soviets were too prideful (and tied to their perverted ideology) to accept American aid, which was offered. The Soviets also demanded that the Eastern bloc decline Marshall Aid as well, and set up the "COMECON" as a Soviet alternative. It worked as well as the Soviet economy itself (not well).

In the countries of eastern Europe, the Soviets executed what has been called political "salami tactics." When they opened things up for voting, the Soviets, said, "Well, the Nazi party is outlawed." Eastern Europeans said, "Yeah, fair enough. Look at the trouble they caused."
Then the Soviets said, "And the far right parties, because the Nazis would never have gained power without them."
Everyone said, "Yeah, I suppose that's true."
Then the Soviet said, "And the center-right parties. They are guilty as well."
Eastern Europeans said, "Okay, I guess."
Then the Soviets said, "And the center-left parties, because they weakened the left in it's fight with the Nazis."
In the end, the only parties the Soviets allowed were the left-socialist parties and the Communist party. Guess who won?
 

Tidewater

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Another thing that struck me from this episode was the collapse of the British Empire.
During the war, Churchill always had an eye on what the Empire would look like in the Med after the war. During the Allied landings in the south of France, while the fighting as still going on, the Brits pulled the British 2nd Parachute Brigade out of the fighting to send it to Greece. There was no military reason for doing so. It was about imperial policy.

Fast forward 2-3 years and the British have realized they cannot afford their empire.

Meanwhile, domestically, the Brits had some form of rationing post-war until the early 1950s.
 
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B1GTide

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Another thing that struck me from this episode was the collapse of the British Empire.
During the war, Churchill always had an eye on what the Empire would look like in the Med after the war. During the Allied landings in the south of France, while the fighting as still going on, the Brits pulled the British 2nd Parachute Brigade out of the fighting to send it to Greece. There was no military reason for doing so. It was about imperial policy.

Fast forward 2-3 years and the British have realized they cannot afford their empire.

Meanwhile, domestically, the Brits had some form of rationing post-war until the early 1950s.
The British economy got worse and worse over time, all the way through the Margaret Thatcher years. They had to reinvent themselves several times to find a way forward.
 

TIDE-HSV

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Another thing that struck me from this episode was the collapse of the British Empire.
During the war, Churchill always had an eye on what the Empire would look like in the Med after the war. During the Allied landings in the south of France, while the fighting as still going on, the Brits pulled the British 2nd Parachute Brigade out of the fighting to send it to Greece. There was no military reason for doing so. It was about imperial policy.

Fast forward 2-3 years and the British have realized they cannot afford their empire.

Meanwhile, domestically, the Brits had some form of rationing post-war until the early 1950s.
More like mid-1954, when I was a freshman in high school. When I was a kid, we were admonished not to waste food because the poor English (I never heard "Brit" or "British" back then) were still rationed and doing without. Rationing in Germany had ended 4.5 years earlier...