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Thread: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

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    Почтенный гражданин Martin Miles's Avatar
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    Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    I have an interest in the history of the Cold War, so I thought I would start a topic on the subject with a provocative title. We all know about the bad side of the stand-off between the two superpowers, but there must have been positive aspects too.
    The one that comes first to my mind is the advances in technology that came about because of the space race including, of course, the ability to reach other heavenly bodies. That may actually come in handy some day.
    In terms of politics, it was good that neither superpower was able to behave exactly as it pleased. The War in Iraq would never have taken place during the Cold War.
    Can you think of other favourable sides of the confrontation?

    Кстати, Ким Филби, известный разведчик времени холодной войны, родился 1 января 1912 года:

    http://www.peoples.ru/military/scout/filbi/

    С новым годом!
    Девушка - лoвушка.

    Пожалуйста, кто-то скажи мне, есть ли ошибки где-то.

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    I disagree with your statement:

    In terms of politics, it was good that neither superpower was able to behave exactly as it pleased. The War in Iraq would never have taken place during the Cold War.

    Of course it's not the same thing but the Soviet war in Afghanistan did occur during the cold war. So did Korea and Vietnam and the Cuban missile crisis.


    Except for what you mentioned about the space race the only positive I see from the cold war was Boris and Natasha:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_and_Natasha



    Scott

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Quote Originally Posted by fortheether
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_and_Natasha
    fortheether, are you sure it's a correct link?
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Quote Originally Posted by Basil77
    Quote Originally Posted by fortheether
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_and_Natasha
    fortheether, are you sure it's a correct link?
    It is - Boris and Natasha were on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show.

  5. #5
    Hanna
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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Quote Originally Posted by fortheether
    It is - Boris and Natasha were on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show.
    Never heard of this show.

    The cold war was too depressing to even write about. Some stuff happened while I grew up in the 1980s in Sweden, on the Baltic Sea coast, but frankly I just think it's depressing to think about it. It's all history.

    Think what could have been achieved if both sides had spent all that effort on research, building welfare in their own countries, or in poorer countries.

    We could have colonies on Mars or improved life in the third world
    Imagine if the USSR and US had been able to work together.

    Instead, the world has enough nuclear weapons to kill the entire population of the earth, 18 times over. That's what was what the cold war produced! What's good about it -- nothing!

    The awkward thing is that there seem to be plenty who'd like to get Cold War 2 started... for cynical economic and other reasons.

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Yeeees...

    I find it really hard to see any positive aspects of the Cold War... I can find positive aspects about the Soviet Union but apparently it wasn't possible to have the Soviet Union without the Cold War -- since the Cold War ended only with the dissolution of the USSR. Which is a shame. Russia's image became really marred in the world and it has done us no good. Then again, I think it was pretty much inevitable, so... As the saying goes: "History doesn't know the subjunctive mood." ("История не знает сослагательного наклонения") Suppose the US tried to interfere with Russia's internal affairs -- you know, if we didn't develop the H-bomb and they said: "Hey, we don't like communism, why don't we just play the local magistrate and convince those Russians that democracy/capitalism is better by the force of arms?" All sorts of jokes are circulating even now -- along the lines of that washing powder commercial: "What, you still don't believe in democracy? Then we're flying to you!"



    But I have heard this arguement about "the balance of power". Prof. Ambrose who was an American historian said in the 1970s (see his interview in "The World At War" series):

    "... And eventually, what you get out of the end of WWII is that Russia and America confront each other around the world. Then you have to sort out what belongs to who. Who gets what out of the war. Lines have to be drawn. This is what the Truman doctrine really means, the doctrine of containment, that eventually came in 1947. This is what Churchill means by the "Iron Curtain." Much as he hated it and much as many people regret the imposition of the Iron Curtain, in fact, the Iron Curtain line in Europe turned out to be, rather like the division of Germany, the best thing. People knew who belonged to what, rather than what belonged to who. So that one of the unexpected results is that without having had a forml peace conference, you get a better settlement in Europe after WWII than you had in WWI. WWI, they all got down on their hands and knees on these gigantic maps and drew up the lines of where the new countries would be, with the Austria-Hungarian Empire broken up and the German Empire broken up and so on. And it looked like a very smooth and very intelligent settlement. In fact, of course, nothing was settled, as we learned in 1939, if not earlier. WWII, you get nothing like that kind of a settlement at the end of the war, so willy-nilly things fall into place and we have now had the longest peace Europe has enjoyed in modern times."

    So who knows? He's definitely right that the results of the peace Treaty of Versailles after WWI came down hard on the Germans and to some degree provoked WWII.

    The Treaty of Versailles was neither lenient enough to appease Germany, nor harsh enough to prevent it from becoming the dominant continental power again.
    (from the Wiki)

    I have heard some talks (in foreign media) about "a new cold war" or "Mr Putin's cold war mentality." It's all bunk. But Russia was in a very difficult, insecure, humiliated even, position in the 1990s -- when our opinion was not heeded regarding Yugoslavia and so on. You might draw comparisons that psychologically we were similar to Germany after WWI. I was watching an interview on Euronews a few days ago with a former US foreign minister, I think -- I don't remember his name or exact post, unfortunately. He seemed a very intelligent man and he said that it was a mistake on the part of the US to disregard this issue. But even so, there's no need to talk about "cold wars" now -- Russia is not seeking to restore its former USSR boundaries like Hitler sought to take back Rhineland and Sudetenland and so on.
    Alice: One can't believe impossible things.
    The Queen: I dare say you haven't had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Quote Originally Posted by fortheether
    Quote Originally Posted by Basil77
    Quote Originally Posted by fortheether
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_and_Natasha
    fortheether, are you sure it's a correct link?
    It is - Boris and Natasha were on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show.
    Some small clips (Boris and Natasha are Russian spies):


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHUiCYAE2DY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHqy-chPMnM&feature=fvw

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuWhgyGW ... re=related




    Scott

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    Почтенный гражданин Martin Miles's Avatar
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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Quote Originally Posted by fortheether
    Of course it's not the same thing but the Soviet war in Afghanistan did occur during the cold war. So did Korea and Vietnam and the Cuban missile crisis.
    You are right, Russia in Afghanistan, a neighbour, and the U.S. in Iraq, half way around the world, are quite different. The Soviets failed in their war because of, at least in part, U.S. support of their enemies. That supports the point I was making about no one superpower being able to do just what it wanted.

    Quote Originally Posted by fortheether
    Except for what you mentioned about the space race the only positive I see from the cold war was Boris and Natasha:
    A big exception, but more on that later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Think what could have been achieved if both sides had spent all that effort on research, building welfare in their own countries, or in poorer countries.
    I touched on the question of research earlier. On welfare, quite a few Russians feel that they were better looked after by the State during the Cold War than after it: http://otvet.mail.ru/question/32990338/

    As for poorer countries, I don't know about all of them, but some actually fared worse after the Cold War because nobody wished to buy their support anymore. There was famine in Cuba in the 90s with people eating domestic cats and animals from the zoo:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Period/ Cuba has probably recovered now, but nearly 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the poor countries of the world are still, in many cases,though not all, no better off than they were during the stand-off.

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    We could have colonies on Mars
    Maybe, maybe not; as Starrysky says: History has no subjunctive mood.

    Remember, I am not trying to say that the Cold War was a good thing, but that, as the Russians say: нет худа без добра.
    Девушка - лoвушка.

    Пожалуйста, кто-то скажи мне, есть ли ошибки где-то.

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    Hanna
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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Oh, I understand Martin. Good post, interesting to hear your perspective. Starrysky's post was very interesting, as usual. I really am really not sure if I should give an opinion here, in the presence of a whole community of "experts"... But for what it's worth:

    The USSR could have been a really great country, for its' own citizens, I think. There seems to have been a lot of good will and good intentions. My view on it while I was growing up in Sweden was nothing like the standard American view of an oppressive and aggressive society. It seemed great from films and documentaries. I think I believed that it was morally superior somehow, to the USA, but a more restrictive kind of society which obviously was negative. Then I changed my mind when I started watching more American films as I got older, and times changed.
    In the 1990s it seemed that everyone thought the USSR was absolutely terrible in every respect. Even people who had previously been supporters.

    In East Germany it seems lots of people miss the old days. I know a person who has this opinion. He said (when he was drunk) that he'd like to turn back the clock and stop the unification of Germany, and he stuck to this even when me and another person brought up some of the darker sides of the DDR.

    Lots of the problems and bad things that happened in the USSR seems to have been caused by the paranoia of the state about its' external and internal enemies. I agree that it is fascinating in a way, but I think it's more important to take an interest in what happens right now and what the future will be like.

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    for its_ own citizens,
    Russian is tough, let’s go shopping!

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    I am certainly anything but an expert when it comes to politics and history. I don't even venture into the politics section of my local forum -- there are such sharks there. Though when I do read something I disagree with most posters anyway. But I have been interested in history on and off ever since I read Dumas at the age of ten. Don't mind my talking about WWII too much, it just so happens that this was a 'WWII year' for me -- I read some books, both fiction and historical ones, and saw some films which I hadn't seen previously... History in general is not a subject most young people are strong at -- a friend of mine after finishing school couldn't tell when WWII/the Great Patriotic War happened and who 'won'...

    But Cold War is an interesting topic in its own right. I think I'll at least read the wiki entry when I've got some spare time. I do regret the damage it has done to Russia's image which I believe it did to some degree... Oh well. Intelligent people will always look through the stereotypes -- it's a country's good people and culture that matter not politics...
    Alice: One can't believe impossible things.
    The Queen: I dare say you haven't had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

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    Почтенный гражданин Martin Miles's Avatar
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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Some of the spin offs of the space race include the CAT scan and MRI technologies found in most hospitals today: http://spaceracehistory.tripod.com/spin.shtml/

    Quote Originally Posted by starrysky
    History in general is not a subject most young people are strong at
    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    I agree that it is fascinating in a way, but I think it's more important to take an interest in what happens right now and what the future will be like.
    When the topic of the importance of history comes up, I like to recall two quotations. One from Cicero: To be unaware of what happened before you were born, is to be forever a child; and another anonymous one: Sometimes in order to go forward, it is necessary to look back. In other words, yes, the future is what matters, but you can't effectively plan for tomorrow without thinking about yesterday.
    Девушка - лoвушка.

    Пожалуйста, кто-то скажи мне, есть ли ошибки где-то.

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Stars, If you are going to read the English speaking info about it, just remember that "the winner writes the history" and the US / NATO is fantastically competent at portraying itself as the "good guys" who stand for liberty, human rights, etc, etc... I'm not sure I'd bother reading it if I was Russian because it's a very unflattering picture of the country that your parents grew up in...

    The only reason I never fully bought into this rhetoric is because I remember the different perspective from when I was younger and lived in a neutral country. But every single person in the UK for example, it is an absolute given that the USSR was an incredibly nasty country in every possible respect. Because Hollywood and media said so... This leads to a very suspicious view of modern Russia.

    I have visited a few countries in Asia where the people still feel sick at what was done to them in the name of "freedom" and stopping them from becoming communist. They should have been left alone to mind their own business... Visiting a few museums in such places is a real eye opener. I know they have agendas too, and that they probably aren't particularly objective.. But they hardly destroyed every single building in the entire country and killed half the male population just for propaganda purposes.. VERY disturbing stuff.

    There is a very disturbing trend that more and more of the EU members are also NATO members. I really don't like this, precisely for the Cold War associations. It achieves nothing productive! It annoys Russia for no good reason, creates un-necessary tension and costs a lot of money. If Finland and Sweden can manage without being in NATO, then so can Poland and the Czechs, in my opinion. But maybe the idea of playing war together with the US right on Russia's border is too tempting for some other countries to resist...

    I hate the meddling of foreign powers in Europe, whether from East or West. In the case of Russia it is at least partly European though. I understand that Germans are not really in a position to make a fuss about foreign bases on their territories even though some people there clearly don't like it. But as for the rest, including Norway, Spain and the UK, I just don't understand them.

    I don't want US bases across Europe today any more than I would have wanted unwelcome Soviet bases during the Cold war. What happens the day we have a serious disagreement with the USA and they just "happen" to have 200,000 troops right next to London, Frankfurt, Madrid etc?

    As far as I am concerned, the Cold War is completely over when Europe is free from foreign troops and we have good relations both East and West.

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    Почтенный гражданин Martin Miles's Avatar
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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Кто "помнит" это?



    You may know about this already, but no history of the Cold War is complete, Starrysky, without a mention of the Fischer-Spassky match of 1972 where, during the tense days of the stand-off, an American plays a Russian ("takes on the Soviet chess machine") in a contest to decide who would be chess champion of the world. Nobody knew it at the time, but the result foreshadowed the eventual outcome of the Cold War 20 years later.
    Девушка - лoвушка.

    Пожалуйста, кто-то скажи мне, есть ли ошибки где-то.

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Miles
    Nobody knew it at the time, but the result foreshadowed the eventual outcome of the Cold War 20 years later.
    It's just stupid.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Basil, думаю, что вы не поняли меня. I am not saying that the victory of the American in the match led to the demise of the Soviet Union, simply that it foreshadowed it. In other words, in 1972 Fischer beat Spassky, and in 1991 the U.S. defeated the U.S.S.R., so the first event foreshadowed the second, there is no statement that one caused the other.
    Девушка - лoвушка.

    Пожалуйста, кто-то скажи мне, есть ли ошибки где-то.

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Я прекрасно понял. А Вы в курсе чем кончил Бобби Фишер? Смотрите как бы и вы, победители хреновы, там не оказались.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

  18. #18
    Hanna
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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Good picture of the stamp!

    I happen to be a fan of Fisher, since I like chess. He is an interesting person, a genius, of course. I would have liked to meet him.

    But if you are going to use him in the example, don't forget that resigned his position as grand-master, rejected the chess establishment and Western society in general. He became strongly anti-american to the point that he renounced his American citizenship.

    Has this got a relevance to the allegory or not?

    He was buried in Reykjavik and was an Icelandic citizen when he died!
    A lot of chess people thought that he had gone crazy. Who knows? He was completely coherent at any rate. I read an article he read quite late in life and it was good.

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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    Прошу прощения, но я буду писать по-русски (мне сложно это перевести на английский).
    Позитивные аспекты "холодной войны"? Я считаю, что они есть и в достаточно большом количестве.
    Первое, что приходит на ум - это технологии, которыми м сейчас пользуемся на бытовом уровне. Тот же интернет. Это технология двойного назначения.GPS, медицинские разработки, химическая промышленность, металлургия и т.д. Недавно я натолкнулся на книгу "Двойные технологии" - сколько же много было разработано! Жаль что это в России не нашло широкого применения.
    В начале 90-х годов в России существовала легенда, что развал СССР был спланирован, пройдет немного времени и все вернется на свои места, но в другом качестве. История развивается по спирали, и многие вещи в современной России начинают напоминать СССР - та же самая вертикаль власти. Появилось (пока на бумаге) новое экономическое объединение Россия - Беларусь - Казахстан. Я более чем уверен, что это будет жизнеспособное дитя.
    Что до развала СССР, то мое личное мнение - правильно. Солько же можно было развивать экономики других стран и Союзных Республик, а самим ходить голыми (это не касалось только Москвы и Питера)?
    Освоение далекого космоса? А надо ли строить баы на Маре? Еще Земля до конца не изучена. Ближний космос изучен больше, чем мировой океан, в Сибири есть земли, где буквально не ступала нога цивилизованного человека.

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    Почтенный гражданин Martin Miles's Avatar
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    Re: Positive Aspects of the Cold War

    That's right Aimak, the Internet itself has its origins in the Cold War, the basic technology was developed for military purposes:

    http://www.davesite.com/webstation/net-history.shtml

    I think everyone would agree, that's quite a positive spin-off.

    Basil, if you understood me, I don't see how you could call my statement of fact "stupid". Unless you are saying that Fischer didn't really win in Iceland, or that the Soviet Union didn't really collapse. As you know, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. never openly fought each other, and the Soviets used victories in sport, in general, and chess, in particular, as ways of demonstrating the superiority of their system, so when Fischer played Spassky it was regarded as a test of the two ideologies. The observation I made is quite easy to see, I admit, but it was directed at Starrysky who is interested in the Cold War, but who, for all I know, may not play chess and so might not have heard of the match.

    It's true Johanna, Bobby Fischer lost it in the end, but as you say, he was a genius. The games he left behind, and the opportunities he created for other players in the West to make a living out of chess are far more important than the controvrsial statements of an aging man sadly suffering from mental illness. You say it was a good picture I posted. Thank you. Something of the personalities of the two men comes through in the drawing: Spassky is genial, good natured but a little weak; Fischer is self-assured with maybe a hint of arrogance.
    Девушка - лoвушка.

    Пожалуйста, кто-то скажи мне, есть ли ошибки где-то.

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