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Old July 13th, 2017, 02:08 AM   #1

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Could Russia have been saved by the West from post Cold War collapse?


After the fall of the Berlin Wall the Soviet Union collapsed and the influence of the COMECON fell away to allow the old buffer zone of the Eastern Bloc a degree of autonomy, this was followed by a twilight period of Liberal Democracy in the East which unfortunately didn't last. What we're seeing today in the Ukraine is, imho, a resurgence of Russian power to try and regain influence in the region. It seems that the new Cold War is a result of the deep humiliation of Russia for losing the first Cold War.

My question is - could the Western world have saved Russia from post Cold War economic ruin? After the collapse of Communism it seems that Russia suffered from all the worst aspects of Capitalism, with disgustingly rich oligarchs and abject poverty for most of the population. Were the Russians expecting help from the West in a Russian version of the Marshall Plan or was the grand design just to leave them to it? Had the West invested in the East then might we see a more Democratic Russia today, or would the traditional autocracy still hold sway?


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Old July 13th, 2017, 03:18 AM   #2

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Why would the West have wished to save its mortal enemy from collapse? The vacuum created permitted all the former satellite nations to gain autonomy, many of whom then aligned themselves with the West. Like any epic struggle, your side desires to tip the scales in their favor. The collapse of the Soviet Union brought a sense of relative peace to many places in the world, especially if one had lived through part or all of the Cold War. With all the talk today about Russia being a threat, we have had approximately 25 years of a re-balanced world, especially in the West. Why would the West would have wished to expedite this new tension? I don't believe Western aid would have significantly changed the political and social structures in Russia, long established and operated.
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Old July 13th, 2017, 03:31 AM   #3

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For what purpose? Surely it was their aim to bring it down for 40 years?

You actually think the Soviet Union - basically Stalinist until Gorbachov - was preferable to nasty capitalism?
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Old July 13th, 2017, 03:45 AM   #4
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Better western economic and political advisors giving better advice might have done some good. But the Russians would themselves have had to decide what to do. Considering the inherent bankruptcy of the entire economic model, the dangers of massive corruption in the carve-up, that's far from certain.

Then there's the problem that IF the federation had stuck together, the Russia (it got the natural resources) would have had to carry all the others, instead of them becoming independent states much less wealthy than Russia. Possibly the suggestion that the US+EU jointly pay to keep the post-USSR entity together? Would the post-Soviets have accepted that? Maybe. Lots of things were possible early on.

In the mid-to-long-run that kind of Super-Marshall plan might have been just the thing though. Possibly it might have been the ONLY way to turn the entire post-Soviet territory reliably and stably rule-of-lawn liberal democracies, while working economies. The liberal reformers WERE screwed by their western counterparts at the time, by not getting things like debt-relief etc. The democracy bit at the time was over-optimistically assumed to just happen automatically though... Just like that market "invisible hand" making good things happen...
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Old July 13th, 2017, 03:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnincornwall View Post
For what purpose? Surely it was their aim to bring it down for 40 years?

You actually think the Soviet Union - basically Stalinist until Gorbachov - was preferable to nasty capitalism?
Except that's how one wins a war, but loses the subsequent peace.

It's what happened after WWI, so that was why the aftermath of WWII worked entirely different. But these lessons seem to be forgotten every other time, and have to be relearned by things going down the cacky in between. (Though these days, with Trump and Brexit, the trajectory is still one of falling, with Putin happy about the prospects.)
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Old July 13th, 2017, 03:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Why would the West have wished to save its mortal enemy from collapse? The vacuum created permitted all the former satellite nations to gain autonomy
It left Russia with near ALL the worthwhile natural resources, and a vastly more wealthy and capable society than any of the other former USSR member states. (Baltics doing well enough to compete, but they're tiny, and exceptions.)

The assumption, on both sides, rather seems to have been, that Russia would stage a come-back, and reabsorb the former member states a little later. But since then Russia has managed to actually underperform (it's richer, but not THAT attractive), and the habit of independence is hard to un-learn once a generation or two has become used to it.
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Old July 13th, 2017, 03:58 AM   #7
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Russia's acted paranoid about it's backwardness for at least 300 years. Absent a time machine, there's not much that can be done to correct that.
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Old July 13th, 2017, 04:12 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodger View Post
Why would the West have wished to save its mortal enemy from collapse? The vacuum created permitted all the former satellite nations to gain autonomy, many of whom then aligned themselves with the West. Like any epic struggle, your side desires to tip the scales in their favor. The collapse of the Soviet Union brought a sense of relative peace to many places in the world, especially if one had lived through part or all of the Cold War. With all the talk today about Russia being a threat, we have had approximately 25 years of a re-balanced world, especially in the West. Why would the West would have wished to expedite this new tension? I don't believe Western aid would have significantly changed the political and social structures in Russia, long established and operated.
Quote:
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For what purpose? Surely it was their aim to bring it down for 40 years?

You actually think the Soviet Union - basically Stalinist until Gorbachov - was preferable to nasty capitalism?

As Larrey said, why win the war and lose the peace?

Had there been something in place like the Marshall Plan to rebuild Russian industry then perhaps the new Cold War might have been averted? Perhaps the tradition of the 'strong man/autocracy' would be replaced by Liberal Democracy supported by Capitalism like the success story of West Germany?

Instead we see vast differences in wealth and the emergence of a nouveau Tsar.
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Old July 13th, 2017, 05:04 AM   #9
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I would agree that "saving Russia" from its post Soviet issues would have been pointless. Russia, regardless of some optimistic dreams, is not part of the liberal West, and it never has been. Pumping resources into an historic adversary would have strengthened a current adversary.

Russia understands police power and values autocracy. Those are what make Russians comfortable - politically anyway.

Last edited by pikeshot1600; July 13th, 2017 at 05:47 AM.
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Old July 13th, 2017, 05:27 AM   #10

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But help or "help" was on its way.
Whole Eastern bloc received the invasion of so called Chicago boys - meaning economic advisors of state-of-the-art at the time liberal economy seeking fields for their experiments. At the time they appeared as best economy advisors for underskilled Eastern Europe governments. After applying their valuable receipts there were additionally commercial credits following them. While their receipts somehow worked in Central Europe they led to absolute disaster in Russia. Some of them changed their opinion (Jeffrey Sachs) about the world after this fact (after in addition driving Argentina into ruin) and expressed doubts that maybe free hand of market does not work everywhere.

Last edited by lukaszrzepinski; July 13th, 2017 at 05:32 AM.
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