The Cold War: Pacifism

Figure 1.--This standard Soviet Cold War propaganda piece was painted in 1951. It was titled, 'The Youth of the World is for Peace'. A year earlier, finally in possession of an atomic bomb, had set the Korean War in motion. Notice the internation group carrying portraits of Stalin and Mao, Stalin's portrait uis of course the most prominant.

Pacifism, isolationism. and neutrality suffered as a result of World War II. These different but related policies had all played into Hitler's hands. France sucummed because of pacifist anti-War sentiment and and a terribly mismanaged military effort. The same was true of Britain except the Channel stopped the Panzers at Calais. And America entered the War unprepared for military action. Pearl Harbor had fundamentally changed the American outlook. America after World War II was not prepard to disarm as it had done after World War I, although milirary spending was cut substantially. Attitudes in Europe also shifted. The Belgians and Dutch having endured German occupation were no longer interested in neutralit y as a guarantee of security. The British and French were also not prepared to disarm as they had after World War I. And Soviet conduct, using the Red Army and NKVD to carve out a Eastrern European empire only confirmed the concerns of Americans and many Western Europeans. The result was the North Atlantic Treaty Organizatin (NATO) (1949). Not all Europeans believed in a strong defense. Socialists and Communists still held pacifist beliefs. This was a major strain of thought among Socialists since the foundation of the world socialist movement (late-19th century). And Soviet foreign policy trumpeted this theme. The Soviets claimed to be commited to world peace and charged that it was the Americans who were pursuing agressive miitarist policies threatening peace. Some European sococialists were so devoted to Marxist thought that they simply ignored reality. Others dutifully followed orders from Moscow. They just ignored the fact that the Stalin they now thrumpeted as a force for peace was the same evil dictator who had signed the NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (August 1939) and with the NAZI dictator as a close ally had launched Word War II to carve up Europe between them. While nonsensical, the Soviets used pacifist sentiment in Western Europe to weaken European resistance to Soviet military expansion. They tried the same in America, albeit with less suceess. The Communists infiltrated left-wing and peace groups. The pacifist movement proved highly selective about what they protested. These groups not uncommonly simply repeated Sovuiet propagabnda. They criticised Anmerican and allied defense spending, but never Sovie defense spending. They criticised the American nuclear arsenal, but never the Soviet arsenal. There were also protests behind te Iron Curtain, but like the protests in the West, only criticized American and Western military spending. The Soviets helped fund many of these movements and conducted an active propaganda effort in an effort to both reduce westerndefense speding ad to destabalization Western governments. It was only with the Vuietnam War that pacifism in the United States grew beyond left-wing groups into a much more widely supported peace movenment. This could have had a major impact on the Cold War had it not been for three consrvative politicans (Presuident Reagan, Primeminister Thstcher, and Chancellor Kohl) and the inherent inefficenies of Communism began to undermine the Soviet economy.


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Created: 3:56 AM 7/5/2013
Last updated: 3:56 AM 7/5/2013