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

    22 vote(s)
  1. ObssesedNuker Commander of 10 million men

    Jul 8, 2007
    In the Kremlin, Activating Perimetr
    Eesh, now there’s a hot take that has no trek in the historical community. The Soviets were a superpower because they built a military-industrial complex capable of taking on, and potentially even defeating, the US in a massive conventional land war. That very much made them a superpower. Neither their smaller economic size, at least in simple gdp terms, relative to the US or their lack of other second-tier power allies after the sino-soviet split is proof that they were not a superpower.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
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  2. Mister Mister Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2019
    Yeeeep, US were really incompetent in having millions of their citizens killed/put in work camps, so that they rest is scared enough to do anything what is asked of them out of fear.:rolleyes:

    I mean, in a situation like that, how competent your foreign policy can be?
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  3. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    I think he meant that while the USA never had to invade a NATO/OTAN member, the USSR had to invade the counterparts - Warsaw Pact members.

    Exactly, you do remember them.
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  4. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    Pretty good, I'd say. The Soviet Union managed to get many of its citizens killed or sent to work camps, and yet, that did not affect very much its international standing - which is where success of foreign policy is measured. In countries that were not already experiencing Communist rule and economy, the Soviet Union somehow managed to seem a beacon of hope, regardless of those citizens, to sizable minorities - when not to majorities - of the populations of those countries.

    Then again, the same could be said of the USA as to the standing they got in sizable minorities in Communist countries. Even if the USA got smaller numbers of its citizens killed or sent to camps.

    Maybe it's just a case of the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence. But the case you are making is that the Soviet Union was worse at internal policy, and regardless of that worse internal policy fared at least as well as the USA in foreign policy. I.e., that its foreign policy had to be better.
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  5. Histor32 Kicked

    Dec 5, 2015
    americanyets na europa
    uhm.. curious. but you are saying that the soviet union. the largest nation on the earth by quite a stretch was lacking resources? which ones. just curious.

    I am not going to go down any rabbit hole as to which nation is the most full of shit.. but I will say that all the soviets had to do was loosen up just a bit. you cant live in eternal revolution and or fear. Whilst the USA is not what I would call the land of the free either and doled out its own fair share of propaganda, resources, the soviets didn't really have an issue with; it was management of said resources. so fewer resources is a crock.

    everday life. eh.. that's the same no matter where you live. get up. go to work. shower, shit, shave, kids, go to magazhine .. etc etc..argue with spouse, go to bed upset and alone.. doent matter where you live, the routine is the same.
  6. Mister Mister Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2019
    That's more saying about state of mind of communist sympathisers in the West.
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  7. fasquardon Cosmonaut

    Sep 24, 2012
    Given that the Cold War started in large part due to Stalin completely and utterly bungling his hand (Stalin bungling foreign relations wasn't exactly unique to the start of the Cold War either), I have to give this to the US. That said, after Stalin died, the gap narrowed substantially and I'd say that in general the Soviets played their hand very well from then on. I'm not sure I'd hold either super power up as a shining example of competent foreign policy though. If anything, the diplomatic history of the Cold War is a study on how weaker powers can manipulate stronger powers to do what they want.

    Coal and iron were probably the worst, but the USSR was disadvantaged across the board. Consider that the USSR had a similar overall resource endowment to the United States, which is less than half the surface area and much of the Soviet Union's resources were under the Siberian permafrost and far from sea lanes. All that means that much of the Soviet Union's mineral resources were not economically viable to exploit due to much higher extraction and transport costs. Additionally the USSR was poorer in a number of key resources like good coking coal, high quality iron ore and oil (the USSR only managed to export oil because it remained an overwhelmingly coal-based economy to the end, unlike the USA, which transitioned to oil for the majority of its energy needs due to it being a more efficient fuel).

    And honestly, expecting a larger land area to be richer in resources is not something that matches reality, unless you have cheap fusion power and can melt bedrock and fraction off whatever resources you want for a reasonable price, but no-one can do that yet.

    Well, that surely played a part in the Soviets hitting the wall when they did. I'd argue mismanagement and incorrect responses to the exhaustion of the resources in the European USSR was actually the main driving force behind Soviet collapse. But that the USSR was poorer in economically viable resources is just a fact.

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  8. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    It would all be saying about that state of mind, were it not for the fact that the Soviet Union always had, as part of its foreign policy, massive propaganda campaigns trying to influence that state of mind. My opinion is that it was significantly successful.
    And before someone points out that the West was an open society, where everyone was free to think and say whatever he wanted, and that helped the Communist propganda... I'd like to mention that the Communist Soviet-sponsored organizations also worked in some peculiar parts of the "West", such as US-sponsored South American military dictatorships, Portuguese colonies, Afrikaner South Africa, Nazi Germany etc.
  9. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    The largest EU country by surface is... Denmark. Yes. Most of its territory is ice-covered land. In Greenland. Maybe there are raw resources under there.

    And it's not just a matter of resources, but also of the population needed to exploit them. The SU had a sizable population, but not in the vast espanses of Siberia - with good reason.
    The Territories of Canada amount to some 4 million sqkm. The Provinces amount to 6 million. But the Provinces have 37 million population, and the Territories...
  10. Alcsentre Calanice Our Equivalent of Click Bait

    Aug 20, 2014
    Mimigernaford, Transrhenian Republic
    Greenland isn't part of the EU.
  11. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    Details, details...
  12. Ebitdadada New Member

    Jan 11, 2015
    I would venture to guess that by "resources", the kind gentleman was referring to total industrial / economic output, not "Geee whiz I have alot of land!!!" In that case, yes the US generally had at least 2x the "resources" (even before considering that US allies were far richer than Soviet ones) to throw around than the Soviets did at any given time during the Cold War.
  13. Histor32 Kicked

    Dec 5, 2015
    americanyets na europa
    OH agreed.. The west had/has exploited more resources, and I also agree the soviets mismanaged and or hadn't modernized their own resources to exploit said resources both efficiently and more readily to a large degree..

    That said Russia, the caucuses and Ukraine are loaded with natural resources
  14. raharris1973 Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2004
    A few points.

    A few points in reply – competent policy =/= ethical policy

    Competent, effective, and successful are all different things. They may overlap but this is not always necessarily the case.

    US foreign policy was more successful. But success can include luck.

    China’s position in the Cold War was more up to Mao than to Soviet or American foreign policy.

    China fell out of the US lap, into the Soviets, out of the Soviets and back in to the US lap more for Chinese reasons more than for reasons traceable to US and Soviet policy.

    Mao bears much more responsibility for the Sino-Soviet split than the Soviet side does. I can't think of how the Soviet side screwed things up or provoked the Chinese by any reasonable definition.

    Nixon deserves credit for taking advantage of, and not screwing up the opportunity offered by Mao's unstable wanderings.

    Did the US win the Cold War, so much as the US survived the Cold War? And the USSR forfeit the Cold War.

    US gets credit for not screwing it up as USSR proceeded to forfeit the Cold War. The US did not make the USSR give up the game. The USSR gave up the game, and the US refrained from doing anything to interrupt the process.
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