The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War

By John Lewis Gaddis | Go to book overview

1
Legacies: Russian-American Relations Before the Cold War

THE HISTORY of Russian-American relations is of sufficient duration, complexity and ambiguity that it is capable of sustaining remarkably different interpretive perspectives. The first full-length account of that relationship to be published in the United States, that of Foster Rhea Dulles, which appeared at the height of wartime cooperation in 1944, concluded that there existed no permanent basis for hostility between the two countries: "They have had no grounds for conflict that have involved them in war against each other, and they should be able to continue to live together in harmony." 1 But by 1950 another American historian, Thomas A. Bailey, had drawn from roughly the same set of experiences the conclusion that "Czarism was about as antipathetic ideologically to democracy as is present-day Stalinism." Coexistence, for Americans, required keeping "our heads clear, our nerves steady, and our powder dry." 2 Nor is this phenomenon of deriving differing conclusions from the same body of evidence limited to historians in the United States: Soviet

This paper was originally prepared for the Fifth Colloquium of Soviet and American Historians, co-sponsored by the Soviet Academy of Sciences and the American Historical Association, and held in Kiev in June, 1984. It is a distillation of certain themes developed in my 1978 book, Russia, the Soviet Union, and the United States, but it has not been previously published in this form.

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Throughout much of this chapter I shall use, purely for reasons of convenience, the term "Russian-American relations," fully cognizant of the fact that neither "Russia" nor "America" are accurate or wholly satisfactory appellations for the countries and peoples involved.

-3-

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