Twentieth Century Hawks and Doves

By John Bacher

Is the USSR a monolithic evil empire? Does the USSR want peace because it is number two in the arms race? Most Canadians would answer "Yes" to one or the other of these questions, but Hans Blumenfeld in his article "Mirror Images of Each Other?" (PEACE MAGAZINE, Feb. 1986) is probably correct in assuming that Canadians know very little about the USSR. Both the USSR and the USA have doves who seek national objectives that can be met through negotiations and hawks who seek to impose imperialistic solutions based on superior military and economic force. While hawks and doves in the USA have open debates in the press and on the floor of Congress, in the USSR, similar debates are conducted in secret. While conflicts over foreign policy in the USA can be observed by the casual observer, generally only academics and other specialists examine the scholarly works that deal with the same disputes in the Soviet Union.

Blumenfeld stresses the role of the arms race largely in isolation from the foreign policy aims that promote it. As the old maxim of war being a continuation of diplomacy by other means illustrates, nations run the risk of war by using coercion to impose unequal demands on other states. Usually this involves attempts to impose unfavorable terms of trade.

Roosevelt's Doves

A clear distinction between American hawks and doves can be found in the contrast between the record of the liberal administration of Franklin Roosevelt and its twentieth-century predecessors and successors. The belligerent "dollar diplomacy" that prevailed from McKinley to Hoover saw the U.S. use brutal force to achieve the annexation of the Philippines and economic control over Latin America. The latter involved full scale invasions of Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Under Franklin Roosevelt's administration, American troops were removed from Nicaragua and Haiti, Mexican nationalization of American oil companies proceeded without conflict and sympathy was even extended to popular revolutions that overthrew repressive dictators in Guatemala and El Salvador. In this period the U.S. finally extended diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union. It gave Lend Lease aid to the USSR when it was attacked by Nazi Germany. Prominent doves in the Roosevelt administration supported building economic ties between the USA and the USSR by advocating $6 billion in post-war loans.

Truman's Hawks

Rather than encouraging trade by aid, the dominant hawks in Truman's administration attempted to force the USSR to open the economies of Eastern Europe to the West by economic coercion and threats of atomic bombardment. Although in 1946 loans were given to Great Britain and France, no such assistance was given to the Soviet Union. Marshall Plan aid was later offered the USSR only on the grounds of acceptance of an American controlled common plan. The USSR terminated the democratic governments of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, when it appeared they would accept Marshall plan aid and thus fall out of its economic sphere. The hysteria which these coups produced in the west allowed NATO-directed rearmament to proceed. It has continued to skyrocket since 1949. Although the Truman administration largely kept its predecessor's conciliatory policies toward Latin America, hawks such as the Dulles brothers in Eisenhower's administration used existing cold war tensions to justify American acts of war for predatory interests of multinational corporations.

Soviet Hawks and Doves

Soviet hawks, like their American counterparts, try to impose imperialistic solutions by applying superior economic and military force. Their historical high tide was the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939-1941. The previous Soviet Foreign Minister, Maksim Litvinov, had tried to preserve the USSR's security by developing an alliance with the western democracies against Nazi Germany. His ouster came just after Hitler's violations of the Munich Agreement by occupying non-German areas of Czechoslovakia caused even the blindest supporters of appeasement to enter into serious negotiations with the USSR. The British and French would not give the USSR what the Hitler-Stalin pact did--the annexation of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the eastern half of Poland not absorbed by Germany. The pact also provided the occasion for the USSR's war against Finland, which lasted until Finns agreed to annexations of part of their national territory.

The hawkish architect of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, V.L. Molotov, continued extremely nationalistic policies into the period following the Second World War. The most obvious consequence of imposing unequal economic terms on the areas of Eastern Europe that fell into the USSR's sphere of influence was the break in diplomatic relations between Yugoslavia and the USSR. The break was part of an elaborate effort by the Soviet Union to destablize Yugoslavia. This effort included an economic blockade, clandestine secret police actions and radio broadcasts urging citizens to overthrow their government. Leading Communists in other Eastern European states who sympathized with Tito's efforts to secure national independence were imprisoned and often executed. After Stalin's death in 1953, the influence of Soviet hawks began to wane, as Khrushchev's more dovish policies began to be implemented. Despite the opposition of Molotov and other hard liners, Khrushchev achieved a normalization of relations with Yugoslavia. These same hawks unsuccessfully opposed his negotiation of the Austrian State Treaty of 1956 that saw the removal of Soviet troops from Austria in exchange for the neutralization of the country. Khrushchev also closed the USSR's unpopular bases in Finland and in China. Had not Khrushchev been able to overcome the formidable resistance of Kremlin hawks to these peace initiatives, the arms race would be at even worse levels today.

Doves and hawks of both blocs provide mirror images of each other. Roosevelt's dovish foreign policies were coupled with measures to protect the wellbeing of the American people. These included old age security, social housing and progressive labor legislation. Likewise, Khrushchev boldly increased the welfare of Soviet citizens by reducing military expenditures and curbing the state terror apparatus by freeing an estimated four million people from forced labor camps.

The struggle for more human rights, peace and a better quality of life have much in common on both sides. As Polish Solidarity leader, Jareck Kuron, told the 1985 European Nuclear Disarmament Convention, having more civil liberties, social services and a higher standard of living takes power and resources away from the military. It is vital that this be recognized by the Canadian peace movement, lest it strengthen the most militaristic elements in Eastern Europe and so discredit itself in the eyes of the Canadian people.

Peace Magazine Aug-Sep 1986

Peace Magazine Aug-Sep 1986, page 6. Some rights reserved.

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