Stalin and the geopolitics of historical revisionism

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October 28, 2015 – 

Albert Naryshkin, PolitRussia – 

Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski 

“On the brink of peace and war: the question of Stalin”

It wouldn’t be superfluous to repeat that the world is today faced with the threat of full-scale war going far beyond the parochial contradictions such as Ukraine, the Middle East, and the periodic misunderstandings in the South China Sea. 

As is known, war is politics by another means. And the politics of world war in any time, as in our time, consist in the critical mass of influential global players’ ceasing to maintain the established world order. Weakened giants will not give up their privileges on their own, and the newbies gaining momentum can’t enhance their status and authority without a fight. 

Old rules

The problem, or rather the sign of our times is that we still live in the Yalta-Potsdam world, the same world which the victorious countries of the Second World War created, the rules of which they wrote, and the borders in a literal and figurative sense of which they outlined. In the end, they headed this new world order. 

It’s true that after the British and French colonial systems were dismantled the USSR and USA inherited their legacy, but the rest of the world didn’t change so much. The Bretton-Woods system and the dollar as a reserve currency remained, along with nuclear parity, the restricting of the sovereignty of Japan and Germany, and the retaining by Russia of a high status even after the collapse of the USSR.

Germany and Japan, being among the leading world powers, are already fed up with the situation. Many would like to lower the status and authority of Russia, but the US wished to officially become the world leader. De jure, so to speak, and not only de facto. The status of Asia, liberated from colonialism and dramatically sore, was almost ignored in the old system. After the war over the legacy of the USSR, the countries of the Warsaw Pact went to war over the former Soviet republics. Thus, in 1997, the Russia-NATO Founding Act on Mutual Relations, in which the countries of the alliance stated that they had no intention of deploying large military contingents on the territory of the new alliance members, was signed. But after the Wales summit in 2014, NATO decided not to abide by this. 

On the brink of war

A very long list of global and regional contradictions can be made. In fact, the words “we are on the brink of war” are quite an understatement of the real situation. The military potential of Russia and the USA is unprecedented in world history, and still today this keeps us “on the threshold,” and in any case war was already long ago not only started, but it wasn’t even ended.

All of our peaceful life is a life in debt. All of our well-being is taken on credit. Here it follows that tribute should be paid to those people who wish to see the world as it is without rose colored glasses. If established contradictions are not resolved, war will begin anyway – we shouldn’t think that anyone will abandon their nuclear arsenals. In fact, NATO exercises on the territory of Europe at the present moment are directly working over scenarios of a war with Russia in these countries.  While reading these lines and clasping ones hands together, one might exclaim: “What nonsense! Well, ‘nuclear winter!’ Mutual destruction!”Militaries at this time are already working through real scenarios of this war which “just can’t happen.” 

By the way, before the beginning of the Second World War, the majority of strong countries had huge stockpiles of chemical weapons more effective than at the moment. And, as we know, they simply weren’t used. They signed capitulations, surrendered to occupation, and [these weapons] simply weren’t used. It doesn’t follow that nuclear weapons won’t be used, but judging by historical experience, much is possible. 

The reason

The results of the Second World War served as the basis for the existing world order, and those who are trying to destroy them are those whom this [world order] doesn’t suit in one way or another. Yes, we are talking about the notorious “revision of the outcome of World War II,” which all of the “civilized West” ceaselessly says is unacceptable, but it is this in which they have engaged consistently for the last twenty years. 

The expert on international relations, political scientist Aleksey Fenenko, says:

“The Clinton administration declared the concept of “expanding democracy”, the acceptance of former socialist countries and the republics of the former USSR (except Russia) into common transatlantic institutions. The Americans, in doing so, secured the geopolitical results of the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR. This was supported by a segment of the elite of these countries which advocated a maximum distancing from Russia. Here is why American diplomacy turns a blind eye to the revival of nationalist and even openly pro-fascist movements in the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Georgia: for the White House, the main thing is reducing Russian influence in the former Soviet bloc.”

Underneath this obvious reasoning there is yet another layer of truth: a new perception of the Second World War is settling into mass consciousness, in which Russia played the role of the aggressor despite the fact that we became a victim of aggression. It is diligently taught that the war with the Soviet Union and collaboration with the Nazi army in this war was good and right. It’s permissible to defy the verdicts of the Nuremberg Trials and hold SS veteran parades. 

The West simply needs a reason to reduce Russia’s status, which it rightfully deserved in accordance with the results of the Second World War. To do this, Jesuit interpretations of historical facts and outright lying, densely-kneaded amidst total silence over many smelly episodes of European politics in these years, has been brought forth. But the main role here is allotted to the demonization of the USSR and Stalin himself as the leader in the period preceding and following the war. 

How they came to love comparing Stalin and Hitler

Here we arrive at the key point: the Stalin era and the evaluation of the events which took place at the time. We have long and fondly believed that this is precisely our internal problem, with the evaluation of historical figures and facts, the drawing of conclusions, monuments, and street names. It seems that it’s not even worth writing about it.

But! The truth behind things is usually much more interesting. Here’s what Aleksey Fenenko said about the global consequences of such decisions:

“All the legitimacy of the modern world order is tied to the outcome of the Second World War. If the countries of the West pursue a policy of eliminating the UN Security Council in its current composition (and there are signs of this), then it is necessary to do ideological groundwork. Why is the topic of Stalinism, although Stalin died in the middle of the last century, so popular in the West? Because it is the foundation for transforming the UN. If for a moment we admit that “Stalin and Hitler were equally responsible for the war,” then the question is immediately raised: what exactly is Russia doing in the UN Security Council? In Germany and Japan, I think, another question arises, the question of whether or not the borders arranged by Stalin are just.”

And then he draws this conclusion from a political analysis of the problem:

“Something quite similar already happened in history. In the 19th century, no less a schism was caused by the figure of Napoleon Bonaparte. The destroyed emperor was adored and strongly romanticized in France, the country which wanted to revise the results of the Congress of Vienna in 1815. National movements idolized Bonaparte, including Italian, Polish, Hungarian, and Irish ones which wouldn’t have had the chance to create their own states without new turmoil in Europe. And, conversely, the victorious powers – Russia, Great Britain, and Austria – didn’t like Bonaparte. The point wasn’t even Napoleon, but rather disputes about the necessity of revising the results of the Congress of Vienna. Today we feel a similar danger emanating from disputes over Stalinism and the the beginning of the Second World War: we are not talking about Stalin as such, but about the transformation of the UN Security Council into an objective disadvantage for Russia.” 

Diplomacy 

Contemporary international relations are characterized by an unprecedented activity of the main players in dynamic, active life. This is demonstrated simultaneously by amazing commitment and, in other cases, amazing pliability.

The point is that in most capitals they haven’t forgotten what kind of “joy” a world war is, and they are trying to avoid it. This destroys old alliances and creates new, completely unexpected ones, as, for example, in the convergence of Arab monarchies and Moscow and a sharp deterioration in their relations with Washington. The famous move when the heads of four of these states failed to arrive for a pre-planned dinner with Obama is more than eloquent. 

As regional wars are already starting to spread in many parts of the world, and if our overseas “partners” are too happy to fan the flames, then continental Europe (the UK, in this respect, ceases to belong to Europe), and the Middle East and Asia are all striving to get out [of this situation]. 

Why don’t we start selling our oil for rubles? Why don’t we translate our calculations into the Chinese yuan? Why not leave the Council of Europe? Why make more stupid, yet effective populist maneuvers? Because everyone understands that, on the one hand, the United States simply won’t give up the dollar as the world currency, the Bretton-Woods System, and predominant participation in the IMF and other organizations without a war – a real, hot one. On the other hand, everyone can see that the objective course of world history, fueling internal problems in the US, is gradually undermining their power and, as follows, with the passing of time their ability to unleash a major war in their interests will be reduced. 

In such a situation, Stalin is much more than a couple of chapters from a history textbook. The issues of “destalinization”, “rehabilitation,” and other questions persistently imposed on us by the West must now be considered to be not just slight touches on issues of establishing historical truth, but as our “dear partners” consider it, the strongest weapon in the great geopolitical game that is taking place on the planet with unprecedented ferocity. 

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