The Big Two: Soviet-American Perceptions of Foreign Policy

The Big Two: Soviet-American Perceptions of Foreign Policy

The Big Two: Soviet-American Perceptions of Foreign Policy

The Big Two: Soviet-American Perceptions of Foreign Policy

Excerpt

Most of the older states evolved. The United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were declared into existence, each by a group of men. Each group had definite ideas about the nature of the state they were creating. In each case the ideas were rooted in a certain philosophy of society and, in the case of the Bolsheviks who created the Soviet State, also in a philosophy of history.

The Founding Fathers of the United States were inspired by the political ideas originating in England and France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The main theme of these ideas was that a society is a covenant entered into by individuals who "are created equal and endowed with certain . . . rights." Governments, then, are instruments created by individuals to promote certain ends sought by individuals, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Governments have a right to exist only as long as they are not "destructive of these ends." In particular, a government that suppresses basic rights of individuals is a tyranny and thereby loses its legitimacy. This concept of legitimacy was in sharp contradiction with an older concept embodied in the so-called divine right of kings, a rationalization of absolute monarchy.

An absolute monarch had the power of life and death over his subjects, and this power was considered to be "natural," because it emanated from God who was Himself an absolute monarch. To the Founding Fathers, it was unthinkable that a government . . .

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