The following are in depth research notes on Communism, Nationalism and Russia from the perspective of both Eastern and Western academic thinkers.
Politics, history, psychology are complicated. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the territorial maps were redrawn. Many Russian nationals become minority citizens of new countries that were formed. The following is an analysis of that story. It’s implications for nationalism studies today and in the future. And in some ways an answer to what Putin wants.
Thatcher supported the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) program which stipulated an aggressive weaponization of space. Reagan’s objective was to rid the world of nuclear weapons, according to Thatcher. Thatcher, however, disagreed (nuclear weapons are a deterrent to war in Thatcher’s estimation) but she knew that she must always remain a staunch ally of the US. Russians didn’t like the SDI proposal because they were concerned that the US shield would end the deterrence against US attack. For Thatcher and others conservatives, the SDI programme was central in the victory of the West during the Cold War. The causation is deterministic in their opinion. SDI = weakened USSR.
The SDI opened up new complications and dimensions to the American and British nuclear deterrence strategy. SDI had implications for Cold War agreements about the weaponization of space. The technological advances would be helpful. The Russians had already begun experiments with tracking systems to repel an American attack. Thatcher believed it made sense to go forward with SDI in order to deal with indirect accidental launch at the very least. The MAD deterrence was the primary reason there had not been a nuclear war according to Thatcher. She didn’t care that Russia felt the SDI reduced deterrence. She felt that it was part of scientific development; it must be carefully controlled and regimented. For Thatcher, science cannot be stopped. She even argues that the Russians will develop this system as well but if they can’t then they deserve to be destroyed.
Thatcher and Reagan agreed on the principles of SDI treaty with Russia at the Iceland Summit (Reykjavik Summit) that stated:
1) the US and Western nations would not aim for superiority but stability with Russia,
2) SDI development would have to coincide with treaties negotiated,
3) the aim is to enhance deterrence,
4) East-West should try to reduce systems on both sides. The Reykjavik, Iceland Summit was crucial in ending the Cold War.
Gorbachev became the leader of the USSR in 1985. He recognized that the USSR economy was in terrible shape and would require massive reforms. The USSR laid a trap for the US during negotiations at the Iceland Summit: they made concessions on British and French deterrents not being included in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Those reductions in nuclear arms could occur on hard numbers NOT IN percentages which would disadvantage America with its larger stock-pile. Gorbachev said he would agreed that his nuclear arsenal would be halved in 5 years time. A huge concession! Gorbachev then sprang the trap: SDI must NOT continue….Reagan rejected the deal with Gorbachev since Gorbachev was making concessions he could not retrieve at its conclusion. It was obvious that Gorbachev had wilfully released the numbers on nuclear weapons as a concessions with the trap in mind ie end SDI. Even Trident would have ended had this proposal been accepted according to Thatcher. In these skillful negotiations, Reagan “had written one of the last chapters on the ‘Evil Empire’ that was the USSR which would be relegated to an ash heap in history” according to Thatcher. An INF agreement would have been given priority by Thatcher although she rejected full nuclear disarmament as impossible.
On the USSR
There are two schools of Sovietology: 1) who plays down the differences between Soviet and Western systems and who generally drawn from political analysis and systems analysis. These people looked at the Soviet Union in terms understood only by liberal democracies. These academics were optimists: confident of rationality. 2) On the other hand there were the historians who grasped that totalitarian systems are different in kind, not just degree, from liberal democracies and that approaches relevant to the one are irrelevant to the other. Thatcher clearly supported the second view. Russians treated well their political elite and foreign dignitaries while their common people starved in the streets. Britain boycotted the 1980 Olympic games although many British athletes attended regardless. The USSR is terrifying for Thatcher. In 1983, relations were more chilly: the USSR had shot down a South Korean airliner killing 269 passengers, Soviets wanted a ‘nuclear free-zone’ in Europe to divide Western powers against themselves, Reagan was announcing the Strategic Defence Initiative.
The capitalist and communist systems were incompatible. Thatcher endeavoured to understand the Soviet system of economics, justice and society. Thatcher disapproved of the handling of the Refusniks; the human rights record of the Soviet Union was appalling. She hated the destruction of the human spirit which she felt occurred in that system of government. Gorbachev was someone Thatcher actively sought out to find common ground. Andropov was the leader of the USSR at this time. Gorbachev was the most well educated. Thatcher visited Hungary, to see how their economy was liberalizing under Soviet influence. She saw some mild signs of pro-free-market progress but they were limited at best. She noted that the economic experiment was conducted under limited parameters. Andropov passed away and Thatcher attended his funeral. Chernenko became the leader.
Gorbachev visited England and Thatcher. Mrs. Gorbachev’s own family had suffered under the forced collectivization. Gorbachev denied the centralization of economic planning. He explained that decentralization into smaller business models was being implemented. Thatcher felt it was not enough. Thatcher believed that a simplistic redistribution system was not the best way to go about running a society.
On Jimmy Carter
Profited from Watergate not his candidacy’s appeal to the American public. Carter lacked the understanding of economics. Believed in what Thatcher thinks were ineffectual price controls on gas during the OPEC crisis. Believed that Communism was an exaggerated threat, as did his Democratic Party. Consequently, Carter was not prepared for the invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian seizure of American diplomats as hostages. Carter had no vision for America. Carter was over concerned with details and agonized over big decisions.
On the Middle East Crisis of 1980
The USSR invaded Afghanistan with a pro-communist coup d’etat. The USSR was possibly motivated by the Oil crisis to find an expedient route through which oil could be exported to Russia. The USSR was attempting to cause communist uprisings all over the world. Carter was disappointed that the UK would not freeze all Iranian financial assets, which would have ended London’s position as a world financial centre, according to Thatcher. Iraq and Iran began their war of attrition in 1980 further threatening Western interests in the region.
On Britain’s Industrial Problem
Britain was not internationally competitive. Their industrial reputation had steadily declined in the post-war era. Productivity was low before Thatcher. The problem was not the level of wages but the competitiveness of workers. The steel union BSC attempted to cut all supply of steel in the UK until they received better wages. Thatcher waited until March 1980. The steel supply was still able to continue despite the union’s attempts to strime. The union was demoralised and required a face saving arbitrator the ACAC (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). The union got substantially less then they demanded. Their union workers were not very productive or efficient which is part of a cross industry trend. Trade unions push wages up while weakening a commercial enterprise’s competitive edge. Thatcher believed that, under successive Labour Party regimes, communist and socialist radicals had risen to the top of union organizations. These people were poisoning the organizations. They consolidated their power by intimidating their members making certain that they could not leave those unions. The Engineering Employer’s Federation (EEF) conceded a 39-hour week, increases of 13 pounds a week for skilled men and an extra week’s vacation setting a precedent that would weaken all management/union relations.
On the Iranian Embassy Siege
Terrorists captured Iranian Embassy at Prince’s Gate in April of 1980. Thatcher believed these terrorists were acting on the perceived weakness of the western powers as demonstrated by the Iranian Hostage crisis of 1979-80. Thatcher needed to defeat these terrorists somehow. Operation Nimrod was a success. Denis Thatcher was proud of the killings of 5 of 6 terrorists and famously lamented the survival of the 6th assailant according to Wikipedia.