Hungary in the Cold War, 1945-1956: Between the United States and the Soviet Union

By LÁszlÓ Borhi | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE MYTH OF DEMOCRACY

Like many alliances in history, the coalition between the Soviet Union, the United States and Great Britain broke up almost as soon as its raison d'être, Nazi Germany ceased to exist. The forces pulling apart this “strange alliance” proved to be stronger than the forces of cohesion. The desire to pursue national aspirations turned out to be more motivating than the prospect of jointly policing the world for the sake of peace and stability. For Moscow, an exclusively Soviet oriented belt of security and the pursuit of ideological goals prevailed over cooperation; economic exploitation and autarchy were more desirable than economic integration with the West. In Russian eyes the slightest hint of American interest in Eastern Europe indicated a desire to deprive the Soviet Union of the fruit of victory. Washington, on the other hand, could not and would not accept the Soviet terms for the continued existence of the Grand Alliance. Wendell Willkie's “One World” was a thing of the past soon after the war ended. Moscow isolated its sphere of influence from the outside world and introduced Stalinist dictatorships even in former allies like Poland. This combined with Stalin's encroachments on China, Turkey and Iran made it seem as though Russia was on a quest for world mastery. Having allowed the Soviet Union to ensconce itself in its own sphere, America proceeded to protect and economically strengthen the West. In the process each side came to see the other as a mortal and insatiable enemy; perhaps America had more reason to do so than the USSR, which watched the “capitalist world” with a priori presumption of malicious intent.

Many scholars hold that Stalin had no political strategy for Eastern Europe. Hungary and Czechoslovakia, they argue, enjoyed genuine democratic governments in the aftermath of the war and were subjected to Sovietization only in response to threatening American initiatives. In contrast, Eduard Mark argues that Stalin “had a highly developed political strategy for liberated countries throughout Europe through the establishment of national fronts.” Moscow supported popular democracies where communist dominated coalitions outwardly observed conventions of “bourgeois democracy.” Ultimately the purpose of this support was to minimize Western objection to the “creeping establishment of Communist-dominated

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Hungary in the Cold War, 1945-1956: Between the United States and the Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I - We Do Not Wish to Move a Finger 17
  • Chapter II - The Myth of Democracy 47
  • Chapter III - The Communists Take Over 111
  • Chapter IV - The Merchants Ofthe Kremlin 139
  • Chapter V - Empire by Coercion 197
  • Chapter VI - Ontainment, Rollback, Liberation or Inaction? 269
  • Conclusion 325
  • Bibliography 335
  • Index 347
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