Russia's War Potential

July 1, 1948

Report Outline
East-West Division and Fears of War
Effects of World War II on Soviet Economy
Russia's Economic Strength and Weakness
Special Focus

East-West Division and Fears of War

Soviet Russia, major ally of the United States, Great Britain, and the other United Nations in World War II, looms today as the potential enemy of the western powers in the tragic event of a third world conflict. Ever since hostilities in the last war ended, the former allies have been moving farther and farther apart. Their inability to work together harmoniously, either on the immediate problems posed by defeat of Germany and Japan or in the search for solution of long-range problems like atomic energy control and international policing, has produced a general sense of insecurity. Meanwhile, Soviet or Soviet-supported moves to tighten the Kremlin's grip on satellite states, as in Czechoslovakia, or to extend the area of Communist influence, as in Italy, have heightened international tension and raised the dread prospect of World War III.

Russian Overtures vs. Rumors of Coming Showdown

Failure of the Italian Communists' bid for power in the bitterly fought April elections eased the tension momentarily. It is obvious, however, that a new crisis may arise at any time so long as the numerous differences remain unresolved and efforts for European recovery and reorganization lack the stable foundation that could be given only by genuine cooperation between East and West. In mid-May Premier Stalin and Foreign Minister Molotov, the one responding to an open letter from Henry A. Wallace and the other to a communication from U. S. Ambassador Bedell Smith, professed readiness to discuss and settle Soviet-American differences. The State Department pointed out, however, that the chief questions at issue concerned other nations as well as the United States, that these questions had already been considered at length in the appropriate international bodies, and that they could not be the subject of bilateral negotiations between Washington and Moscow.

Adoption by the Soviet leaders of an apparently conciliatory attitude was interpreted in some quarters as Russia's reaction to American rearmament moves. It was suggested elsewhere that it resulted also from realization that Soviet industrial reconstruction and expansion had not progressed fast enough or far enough to permit continued pursuit of an aggressive foreign policy, least of all in the face of steps by the United States to strengthen its military establishment.

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