The World has witnessed two horrifying wars in the form of World War I and World War II and increased global tension in the form of Cold war. The reasons behind Cold War are complicated and interlinked but examining some of the Soviet Union’s policies might help to understand part of the debate about Cold War. Cold War was initiated due to two distinguished political theories, Wilsonianism and Leninism. Wilsonianism focused on the capitalism and economic freedom as a solution to the political conflict. In contrast, Leninism focused on the Marx’s approach to solving the international conflict. The Cold War was the tension between communism and capitalism. The Soviet Union and the United States shift policies to fit the national needs rooted in the individual ideologies of the leaders. The paper will discuss the rationale behind cold war policies by the Soviet Union based on the domestic interest and politics and the individual ideologies of the leadership. The policies changed during the cold war represents the perceived national interests and ideologies of the people.
As the Soviet Union and the United States become the deciding powers after World War II, they were scared to escalate a war in their lands due to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Therefore, the changed the policy and brought it to the third world countries. The Soviet Union started expanding its influence over the central European countries to challenge the United States’ influence in Europe. In opposition, America came up with the Marshall Plan. Moreover, the North Korean attack on South escalated the rebuilding military capabilities in the United States in the 1950s. Similarly the further events such as Hungarian Revolts. These disturbances within Europe was defining Soviet domination. However, the United States was not ready to accept the dominance. Moreover, both the nations were scared to confront each other due to their enhanced military capabilities. The confrontation would have brought destruction to the whole Europe and damaged both the nations.
Therefore the cold war in Europe turned to the full-fledged confrontations in the Third World. Moreover, Lenin’s ideology of colonial world being allied of the proletariat strengthened the beliefs that the third world countries will assist the Soviet Union in the weakening the powerful countries of the West Including the United States. It was a national interest to integrate and gain support from the Third World countries to become a superpower that the Third World countries were included the cold war. The control on the ideologies of the new nations in the Global South was an indication of the winner as globally accepted ideology and the nation was to be considered the superpower. Both the US and USSR tried to gain the cooperation of the third world countries, and it changed the foreign policies of both the countries. Both the countries provided heavily military and economic support to influence the countries around the world. For instance, Nikita Khrushchev provided military and economic support to Egypt to minimize the dominance of Western political dominance in the Middle East. USSR supported Arab world against Israel to minimize the influence of the United States and Western politics. Although it all seems that the support of these countries is without self-interest of the actors, the support was provided for the benefits of their nations and national interests as they believed such as support would gain more power for the USSR. The efforts of expansion by the Soviet Union was felt by the US and the countries with Western Political ideologies that they considered it a threat to capitalism. And USSR was able to gain substantial support using military and economic support. However the policy changed when the Middle Eastern countries tried to solve the issue of Israel once and for all and that too prioritizing the national interest.
The Soviet Union’s policy of direct military intervention in the regional conflict was based on the national interest of expanding its influence and power aiming at eliminating US’s influence and capitalist imperialism. The involvement of Soviet Union in the regional conflict was a way of gaining support even though the countries have not yet followed the socialist approaches, their need for assistance encouraged USSR’s intervention in their countries. The Soviet Union had developed a two-track approach to expand their economy as well as ensure security in some countries and seeking expansion of communism around the world. This kind of policy was helpful for soviet not only in expanding but also strengthening economic development and ensuring security. The dual policy towards the states was helping the Soviet Union, and it had grown positive about its success against capitalism. However, the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union infuriated the United States as it was an open threat to the superpower.
Moreover, the leaders played a role to promote their ideologies and influenced the policies of cold war. Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev and Mikhail Gorbachev’s ideologies of expansion and cooperation with the US impacted the domestic and foreign policies. Khrushchev focused on Middle Eastern countries such as supporting Egypt with military and economical to restrict the United States’ influence in the Arab World. It was aiming at the expanding its influence to equalize or gain the status of superpower. It was strongly held ideologies of Lenin that influenced Khrushchev, and he changed the policies as he considered fit according to the ideology. The strongly held communist ideology and the concept that the newly founded nations would prefer to join the socialist country was the impetus for economic and military support of the central European and third world country. Similarly, The Nikita Khrushchev believe that the interdependence of the communist countries would weaken the major opponents of the USSR. He focused on expanding the influence to weaken the United States as well as other European countries. As it would help the Soviet Union to become a superpower, USSR started expansion in the third world considering the prospect of becoming the superpower. Khrushchev vigorously stood against minimizing the influence of the western political ideology of capitalism on the Middle East and South Asia. He pushed Soviet influence and presence in the areas where there were strategic concerns. For instance, supporting Arabs to fight Israel and Soviet’ support to Egypt were part of such endeavors.
Moreover, Brezhnev’s expansionist approaches of the Soviet Union gained a certain level of dominance in the world politics and reduced the dominance of United States in certain places. Moreover, lack of intervention from the US had encouraged the Soviet Union to expand military and nuclear weapons claiming overall superiority globally. His policies minimized blackmailing from the US using the nuclear dominance as he developed military and nuclear capacities. He minimized his military, economic and training troop policies in the global south and moved towards directly interfering in the conflict. The policy was implemented because of the perceived concepts of the leadership that US would not interfere with the policies of USSR. Additionally building a good relationship with the US, the leaders were certain that they could interfere in a conflict without being criticized or stopped by the US. Hence, they took part in the control as well as fighting in other lands. The Soviet leadership supported the groups which they thought would help them expand the communist ideologies in their country if they can form one. The US also played a role in strengthening the ideologies of the Soviet leaders as President Nixon was defeated in Vietnam and the involvement of CIA in illegal activities weakened the US consequently strengthening the Soviet Leadership.
However, with the death of Brezhnev, the strong held believes of expansionism, and socialist ideologies were weakened. And people had doubts about the USSR policies. When Gorbachev came to power, he wanted to improve the economic situation of the Soviet Union as it was deteriorated by the constant involvement in the wars. His policies despite opposition from some of the bureaucrats focused on democratization and openness focusing on transparency. His inclusion of people through their feedback was a way to improve economic development and assist the leaders in implementing the reforms. Furthermore, his policy to achieve new investment from west created some agreement between the two dominant countries. He aimed at stabilizing the economy of USSR through loans from the West which in part damaged the earlier stronghold of USSR around the globe. Therefore, his new thinking and integration with the Europe and United States helped to resolve the cold war.
To conclude the leaders and the domestic interest played a role in the cold war policies of USSR. National interest and search for power changed the policies to become powerful and expand their influence in the world. Similarly, the leaders focused on the best ideologies to assist national growth and development. The perception of leaders regarding national interest influenced the policies. In the beginning, the leaders like Nikita focused on expanding and influencing global South, but Gorbachev focused on expanding the economy of the nation through coalition instead of conflict.