Between the US and the USSR which country had the most competent foreign policy during the Cold War?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Captain Marvel, Jun 6, 2019.


Which country had the more competent foreign policy?

  1. US

    71 vote(s)
  2. USSR

    23 vote(s)
  1. Captain Marvel Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2018
    Between the US and the USSR which country had the more competent/successful foreign policy during the Cold War?
  2. DocJamore Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2015
    United States
    Well, the United States ultimately won the Cold War, so...

    Legitimately though, after WW2 and during decolonization, the Soviet Union had a pretty good reputation in the Third World. And that put a lot of pressure on the Americans to "catch up" on the goodwill front, which took several decades to do. There are several reasons for this. One was that a lot of the leaders of the newly decolonized countries got their educations during the Great Depression, when capitalism was being scrutinized and the USSR seemed to be undergoing an economic miracle. Not surprising that many of the new countries were sympathetic to communism.

    Things changed as the Cold War went on. As for who was overall more competent, it depends on what decade and region you're talking about. 45 years is a long time and things weren't static.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  3. 33k7 Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2012
    Ctarl-Ctarl Empire
    the United States won the Cold War
  4. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    The West won the Cold War, yes, but was it due to US foreign policy or due to the West's economic policies?

    My vote is: ups and downs for both sides. If we considered only "soft" diplomacy, then the USA win hands down, consider just how China left the shadow of the USSR and rapproached the USA (again, tellingly, as an economic competitor), or how the USA succeeded in the management of the restive NATO/OTAN jigsaw. The USSR wasn't that good in soft diplomacy.
    But diplomacy doesn't include only the soft words, it includes the big stick too. And the USSR carried it effectively enough to be often on par, sometimes better, overall.
    skarosianlifeform likes this.
  5. Kalga Something lewd and something rude

    Feb 27, 2014
    Mostly on QQ these days
    Given the nature of trade, both kinda work hand in hand and sometimes it's hard to separate the two.


    As for my 2 cents I'd say the US managed to do better where it mattered.

    -The USSR managed to completely lose the PRC, to the point where the two were slapping each other over border issues
    -While France did sort of but not really left NATO, relations between France & the USA never end up to the point where people were shooting at each other.

    -The USSR had to play whack a mole on it's fellow Warsaw Pact members, while the USA never really had to do that for NATO

    If those things were swapped I'd wager that the USSR/communist bloc would have lasted far longer.
  6. Alanith Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2013
    The USA never had to invade a NATO member. The Soviets had to do it twice.
  7. Alex1guy First Of His Name

    Aug 23, 2011
    The New Zealand Empire
    Both sucked? Both bungled into idealogical wars driven by paranoia, destabilised numerous countries and had tantrum buttons that could end the world. At points both were stupid and arrogant, one just pulled through to keep bumbling things up into the 21st century.
  8. Jiraiyathegallant Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2012
    I’m almost tempted to say the Soviets because they were basically a Great Power that convinced everyone they were a Super Power and consistently had major global influence inspite of having a small economy, no real Great Power allies, and maintained global support even while brutally suppressing their own people.
    Tjakari, jsb, halfcoop and 12 others like this.
  9. Lalli Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2010
    In other hand USA liked to oust democratically elected governments and support brutal dictators.

    But I would say that both made much of good and bad foreign policy.
  10. martymcfly Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2016
    I would contend they were both equal - and unfortunately both were quite ugly that in the 21st century we look back in shame at some of the things the US and the USSR did. A lot of people bring up the Sino-Soviet Split and say the USSR had a poor foreign policy because of this, but you can't pin the blame 100% on the Soviets. Mao was unreliable, unpredictable and unstable as his disastrous domestic policy in China proved.
  11. Sam R. Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2011
    Which NATO members?

    This is the central point. The USA and USSR had different capacities. The USSR had a vastly inferior capacity. The USSR managed similar feats to the USA until it failed internally. Managing similar behaviour from a dissimilar basis can either be due to competence in the inferior power or incompetence in the superior power. The Soviet Union less incompetently managed its resources. It did, however, have fewer resources and after 1964 the failure of its resource basis to “catch up” can be ascribed in part to the failure of capitalism in the Soviet Union to break through the qualitative barrier, or for the Soviet Union to take up opportunities to do so by breaking g with nomenklatura capitalism (Hungary, Czechoslovakia).
    HelloThere, Zincwarrior and riskyrofl like this.
  12. ferdi254 Well-Known Member

    Jul 4, 2018
    Define „most competent“. Better for the governments of foreign countries affected, for the people of such countries, for the two big countries respectively or by any (which) standard?

    The USA had the policy to support (more or less) incompetent, corrupt and brutal regimes as long as they were against the USSR and did not bother with US business interests. With the side effect of the occasional revolution (Cuba, Iran...)

    By what of the above questions was that a „competent“ policy?
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  13. ferdi254 Well-Known Member

    Jul 4, 2018
    Oh and do not misunderstand me the USSR did the same with (more or less equally corrupt, incompetent and brutal) communist states but at least that was consistent and the question is how many of those states had even existed if not for the a.m policy of the USA?
    Sam R. likes this.
  14. riskyrofl Well-Known Member

    Apr 3, 2017
    I do feel like it be correct to say that the US were far more flexible with who they would work with. Whether it be liberals, conservatives, Islamic monarchs, apartheid states, military dictatorships etc, I get the impression that the US were far more open as long as other countries were willing to accept the west's open markets and hegemony. On the other hand, the Soviet Union lost China, in part, over ideological disagreements. While the Soviet Union were friendly with some non-communist states, such as Egypt, Iraq, India, Indonesia etc, but these relations were not as strong, and often far more temporary
  15. 33k7 Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2012
    Ctarl-Ctarl Empire
    foreign policy and economic policy are the same things dude unless you're the lone nation in the world it's always will be
  16. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    *checks title of this web site*

    Arguments about who had a better foriegn policy belong at

    If you want to work up a timeline of either the USA or the USSA had a more competent/succesful foriegn policy, then Im sure people would be happy to comment.

    But *please* dont go "what if X had a blah blah kindly do the work for me" thread.
  17. Dominic Well-Known Member

    Aug 6, 2008
    American foreign policy was so bad that it created a situation in which the United States has found it politically and strategically necessary to attempt to maintain the capacity to project force globally and maintain dominance over as much of the Earth's surface as possible despite possessing only a small fraction of the world's resources. It is extraordinarily overstretched.

    The USSR, on the other hand, collapsed incredibly quickly by virtually any measure due to massive internal contradictions and inefficiencies. Its foreign policy prior to the Cold War contributed to the deaths of tens of millions on its best educated and most productive people, and during the Cold War wasted tremendous resources that otherwise could have propped it up and bought time for reform.

    In other words, the only reason that the USA is not a masterclass in incompetent statecraft is that the USSR existed.
    Stahlheim likes this.
  18. Gancio The Ranter Well-Known Member

    Aug 31, 2016
    I know this sounds "woke" but to me it's just bullshit. Both countries seeked stability, as most great powers do, think about the Marshall plan or the relationship with japan. Both countries only directly intervened when their interests were at stake and even the Soviets, whose entire ideology was founded on worldwide violent revolution, always tried to remain pragmatic.
    FleetMac likes this.
  19. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    Dude, read more carefully. I wrote "the West's economic policies", not "the US economic policies". Apart from the fact that your opinion is questionable, there's a difference there.
    AussieHawker and Ebitdadada like this.
  20. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    Generally true, but with remarkable exceptions. Do you think that sending nuclear missiles to Cuba had a stabilizing effect, for instance? Introducing SLBMs that might be fired from virtually undetectable platforms a few minutes' flight from the coastline of the potential target? Encouraging leftist revolutions and rightist military coups here and there? Claiming that the ICBM-based something-of-a-stability MAD would be made meaningless by "star wars" initiatives?
    Both sides sought stability if they did not think they had more to gain from challenging the existing situation. Fortunately, that was mostly the case, and they mostly realized it and did not rock the boat. But when either of them thought they could get away with a bit of boat-rocking, they did.
    fasquardon likes this.