The Multilevel Dynamics of Moscow's German Policy from 1953 to 1964
Vladislav M. Zubok
A study of the politics that motivated Soviet foreign policy on the German Question must be preceded by a question: What were Soviet politics? Politics in general are about groups and interests, but they are also about psychological motivations, attitudes, and perceptions. Soviet Cold War mentality, to a degree, predated the Soviet-American confrontation: It was based on the decades of Soviet isolationism, the ideologically motivated mistrust towards the outside world, and, first and foremost, the experience of the Second World War, when the Soviet Union survived and triumphed in an epic struggle with the Third Reich. Therefore, although the geopolitical confrontation with the United States remained the main generator of the Cold War, other important factors lay in the Soviet politics of insecurity and fresh memories of war. The fear of the Bolshevik revolutionary regime that it would be crushed by its "imperialist hostile surroundings" meshed with a fear that a loss of the firm grip on East Germany, on Germany in general, could negate the results of the Second World War and the "millions of lives" paid for it.
Soviet policy-makers, despite their monopoly on power, were part of this "politics"; sometimes it severely limited their ability to deal with the German Question rationally and pragmatically. Domestic politics, in addition to geopolitical considerations, enhanced their determination to carry any burden and face any adversities, provided that the German Question was under control. During the first two decades of the Cold War, the Soviet leadership considered the issue of guarantees against a new German aggression as important for security as reaching a strategic parity with Washington.
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Publication information: Book title: Re-Viewing the Cold War:Domestic Factors and Foreign Policy in the East-West Confrontation. Contributors: Patrick M. Morgan - Editor, Keith L. Nelson - Editor. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 71.
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