It takes two to tango, right? Indeed it does. But it’s also true that someone has got to ask someone else to dance before any tangoing is done. Beginning in the 1960s, the American intellectual elite argued–and seemed to really believe–that the United States either started the Cold War full stop or played a very important (and knowing) role in setting it in motion. That consensus (if it was a consensus) has been destroyed by the work of a raft of historians who, having gotten fresh access to materials from the Soviet side, are now offering fresh–and revisionist–interpretations of the beginnings of the Cold War.
One such historian is Robert Gellately. In his new book Stalin’s Curse: Battling for Communism in War and Cold War (Knopf, 2013), Gellately argues that Stalin saw the world in binary terms: there were capitalists and communists. ALL the capitalists were bad. This was obviously true of the Nazi Germans. But it was also true of his wartime allies, the Democratic Americans, British, and French. So when the war against the Germans was won, Stalin knew just what to do: stay the course and continue fighting for world communism against the capitalist imperialists. And, according to Gellately, that’s just what he did, beginning the Cold War and nearly making it hot one a number of occasions.
Listen in to our fascinating discussion.