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What Did The Kremlin Want?

May 2024
1min read

Now that the Cold War is over, I’d love to have access to whatever archives there are in the Kremlin that would settle the question of what the Soviet Union’s foreign-policy intentions were between the end of World War II and the ascension of Mikhail Gorbachev. I grew up watching liberals and conservatives argue inconclusively over whether the Soviets were trying to build an empire for all the standard reasons or just protecting themselves against a repeat of the nightmare of the war. In particular, I’d like to know whether the Soviets were trying to develop a first-strike nuclear capability against the United States, along with a domestic civil-defense system designed with the idea of fighting and winning a nuclear war in mind. It’s purely a what-if question because the Soviets’ internal weaknesses seem to have forced them to abandon whatever overarching foreign-policy strategy they had during the Cold War, but it’s still compelling because the Cold War so strongly affected the whole tenor of life in this country (and the rest of the world, for that matter) during the postwar period.

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