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

By László Borhi | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE MERCHANTS OFTHE KREMLIN

Historical literature—even the recent works—emphasizes the security and ideological aspects of post war Soviet conduct and their relation to the beginning of the Cold War conflict. Economic expansionism as the tool of, and perhaps, the aim of Soviet foreign policy is, by and large, neglected even in works that emphasize that the Soviet takeover was premeditated or, even worse, knew no limits.1 This is surprising in view of the intense focus of the New Left and also of the so-called post-revisionist literature on the perceived economic motives of American foreign policy.2 Such an economic aspect is missing from the specialized literature dealing with the Sovietization of Hungary.3 Its absence is all the more conspicuous in the light of the fact that historical and theoretical works generally acknowledge the role economic factors play in expansionism, even though Marxistinspired theories of economic imperialism are no longer widely accepted.4 Through the act of omission, then, historians perhaps unintentionally lend credence to the Marxist view that economic imperialism is the vice of capitalist powers only. Yet, even at first sight the economic motive seems to have been present in the Soviet policy of expansion. The Soviet Union extracted $23.2 billion from the East European countries (including East Germany) between 1945 and 1960; a figure significantly greater than the amount the U.S. handed out in the framework of the Marshall Plan.5 Furthermore, this amount does not contain the cost of the Red Army's maintenance in Soviet-occupied countries, the value of uranium shipments, the profit from unequal trade agreements and a host of other payments received by the Soviets in the decade after the war. As a strange coincidence Austria paid a reparation of 1,433 billion dollars to the USSR and received a roughly equal amount of Marshall aid.6

The role of economics in expansionism is widely disputed. According to Martin Wight, political, cultural and economic expansion is sometimes summed up in territorial expansion. Edward Luttwak argues that states expand because it is in their power to do so and the motive of profit is only a side issue. He argues that in the case of the Kremlin there were no merchants, that is to say economic issues did not play a role in Soviet foreign policy. Hans Morgenthau in his classic work Politics among Nations, lists

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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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