The Soviet Union in World Affairs (1929-1939
AFTER THE Soviet setback in China, Stalin's triumph over Trotsky, and the adoption of the Five-Year Plan, the accent of Soviet foreign policy was on collective security abroad and military consolidation at home. But collective security was not to be so easily attained. So long as fear of the spread of Communism prevailed, even diplomatic recognition proved entirely inadequate. On various occasions diplomatic proprieties were thrown to the winds and a strong exchange of notes in a most undiplomatic style would serve as a reminder of the existing chasm. Winston Churchill considered the Kremlin government nothing less than a band of cosmopolitan conspirators gathered from the underground world', and 'the foul Baboonery of Bolshevism'. Lord Birkenhead called it a 'junta of assassins and thieves'. To the Communists, the Tories and other allied parties represented 'capitalistic exploiters, bloodthirsty imperialists and vampires sucking the blood of colonial peoples'. Hard words butter no turnips. The exchange of epithets removed no grievances, it added little to the good humor of either party, and galvanized enmity on both sides. The West was in constant dread of 'Red infiltration', as it kept alive memories of blockade, intervention, and support for the White armies. There was no assurance that this hostility had ceased with the end of the Civil War, the Kremlin argued.
Ever since the Communists ascended to power they have been haunted by fear of isolation and of a war against the Soviet Union by a combination of Western powers. Until the USSR could recover from civil strife, restore and improve her economy, and surpass the West at the West's own game, the country needed peace, no matter what the price. The Five-Year Plans and their economic aspirations were one expression of the desire to attain a maximum of security, and peace was necessary for the national reconstruction outlined by the Gosplan. Soviet diplomacy employed every device to assure an undisturbed existence; every move in the West was watched vigilantly, and whenever a conference gathered without Soviet participation, suspicion was intensified of imminent ill winds from the west.
It was for this reason, primarily, that the Soviet government, in accordance with the resolution of the Fifteenth Congress of the Communist Party, laid particular stress on strengthening the armed forces. More than