IN the meantime, Stalin had made a momentous choice. It was open to him, after the end of World War II, to profit by the favorable disposition of the American people by adopting a policy of international co-operation and making the most of the American help which was available to him at that time. This would have enabled him to repair the appalling losses which his territories had sustained through the German invasion and to take the strain off the people of Russia, who were in dire need of consumers' goods --as indeed they had been throughout the course of the successive economic "plans" of the Soviet regime.
This course was urged upon him by Kalinin, the President of the Soviet Union, who regarded the speediest rehabilitation of the country as the best policy in the interest of security, since so long as it was weak there would be a constant temptation for the "capitalist" countries.
Such a program would not have conflicted with Stalin's own long-term projects or with the declared objects of the Soviet Union's policy. He had made similar concessions to expediency in the past and could easily have done so again and found a suitable doctrinal excuse. But at this point opposition came from the Commissar of Foreign Affairs, Molotov, who argued that, according to the Marxian philosophy of history, Western civilization, already severely shaken by the economic depression of the early thirties and World War II, was doomed to early destruction and that it would be a grievous mistake to co-operate with it and so help to prolong its existence, merely in order to hasten their own economic recovery by a short space. Within two years, he said, economic depression would engulf the United States and the capitalist system would be overwhelmed--a prophecy which was later revised to four years.
Molotov's view prevailed with Stalin and it was the certainty