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When America had the bomb - and no one else

 
 
Reply Sat 9 Jun, 2007 11:26 am
There were a few years when America already had the nuclear bomb, and the Soviet Union lagged behind. Was America able to subdue the USSR like Japan back then, before the Rosenbergs?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 867 • Replies: 14
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gustavratzenhofer
 
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Reply Sat 9 Jun, 2007 11:30 am
I am not sure I understand your question.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Sat 9 Jun, 2007 11:50 am
A gentleman i once knew who was the head of the department of Slavic Languages and Literature at a major American university told me that there was nothing behind Zhukov's army group, and that the Allies could have punched through them, and successfully driven on Moscow. However, it is significant that this gentleman was an ethnic German from the Ukraine, who had to escape after the German invasion--the Ukrainians hated the ethnic Germans, and the Germans didn't trust them because they were Soviet citizens. Along the way, he perfected his Russian, learned Polish and French, and so found a post-war career.

I think that his opinion was based more on what he wanted to have happened rather than on what was possible.

Even the Mongols failed to entirely overrun what is now Russia. Napoleon and Hitler failed, and i personally don't think that the western Allies had the men and the resources to have subdued the Soviets. Of course, the most obvious objection is that such an invasion was politically impossible.

By the way, the case against the Rosenbergs is pretty damned weak. Julius Rosenberg was almost certainly a Soviet agent, but there is good reason to doubt that his wife was. The information which Rosenberg and his brother-in-law sent to the Soviet Union was also almost certainly nearly worthless information. The important betrayals of American atomic technology were made by Klaus Fuchs (who provided crucial information from a position inside the atom bomb project, and who thoroughly understood the science behind the project), Donald Maclean (the British diplomat and Soviet agent who provided crucial intelligence on the information the United States was sharing with Britain), and Theodore Hall (an American who worked on the Manhattan project, and passed on information on the construction of the first bomb used on Japan, and the process for purifying plutonium--and he also provided a crucial source of confirmation for the intelligence Fuchs was providing).

Basically, the Rosenberg trial was a show trial much like Stalin's purges in the 1930s. Although Rosenberg and Greenglass were certainly guilty (although Ethel Rosenberg very likely was not), they were not providing any crucial information. When Khrushchev praised the Rosenbergs in his unpublished memoirs (published in 1990 long after his death), he was either engaged in an act of disinformation, or was himself kept ignorant by the NKVD of the role played by Soviet agents in America.

Fuchs, Hill and Maclean didn't know about one another, and it is entirely possible that there were several other Soviet agents working in the United States whom we don't know about. The information from NKVD and KGB files released by the FSB very curiously only deals with agents the Americans already know about. There has never been any information released by the FSB about Soviet agents in America who had not previously been identified by the FBI or CIA, which is suspicious, because neither Fuchs nor Hill had access to all of the data which the Soviets would have need to have produced their own bomb so quickly. The inferential evidence is that there at least a few, and possibly several other agents involved in American atomic projects that we have never discovered.

Whether or not that is true, it is completely unfair to blame the Rosenbergs for the Soviet atomic bomb. Julius was a small fry, providing nothing very useful, and Ethel very likely knew nothing about it.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Sat 9 Jun, 2007 12:13 pm
For those who don't understand the terms i'm using:

After the Bolshevik Revolution, Felix Dzerzhinsky, a Polish socialist, headed the Cheka--the "All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage." That means it was the "spook" service and the internal secret police. It was followed by:

The GPU, which means the "Government Political Administration"--a silly euphemism for the spy service and the secret police. Under Stalin, this became:

The NKVD, which means the "Peoples Commissariat for Internal Affairs"--same-same. That became:

The KGB, which means the "Committee for State Security."

All of them were the espionage and state secret police organizations.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the new Russian security agency is the FSB, which means the "Federal Security Service."

The acronyms don't match up with names, not only because Russian is a different language, but also because it uses a different alphabet. All of the acronyms are "romanized" versions.
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gustavratzenhofer
 
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Reply Sat 9 Jun, 2007 12:16 pm
Set. just so you know... I am reading your stuff. Sometimes you make sense.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Sat 9 Jun, 2007 12:17 pm
Don't let that get around . . . 'K?
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literarypoland
 
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Reply Sat 9 Jun, 2007 02:47 pm
When crowds demolished Dzerzhinsky's statue in Warsaw in 1989, it was a copy of Saddam's statue's collapse (though without American tanks).
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Setanta
 
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Reply Sat 9 Jun, 2007 02:58 pm
Yeah . . . you didn't need the American tanks, though, did you? The Baghdad episode was a fake, anyway.
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literarypoland
 
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Reply Mon 11 Jun, 2007 01:00 pm
Until about 1998, Poland had this local aggressive capitalism. Meanwhile, the big socialist factories went bankrupt and were mostly taken over by international corporations. Also the newspapers. The reaction from Polish businessmen: maybe the Chinese or Russian model would have been better. Then we would operate these businesses now.
In my town of 10.000 we have branches of 3 such multinationals and of 2 big Polish companies. Of course, the foreigners are attracted by cheap labor. Frenchmen, Germans, Americans. Our steel is now Mittal Steel. I guess it's one of most globalized economies in the world, with foreign-owned companies running half of the biz here.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jun, 2007 02:25 pm
literarypoland wrote:
Until about 1998, Poland had this local aggressive capitalism. Meanwhile, the big socialist factories went bankrupt and were mostly taken over by international corporations. Also the newspapers. The reaction from Polish businessmen: maybe the Chinese or Russian model would have been better. Then we would operate these businesses now.
In my town of 10.000 we have branches of 3 such multinationals and of 2 big Polish companies. Of course, the foreigners are attracted by cheap labor. Frenchmen, Germans, Americans. Our steel is now Mittal Steel. I guess it's one of most globalized economies in the world, with foreign-owned companies running half of the biz here.


This is common throughout time, and all over the world. In about 1875, Europe went into an economic slump which lasted for 18 years. European investors came to the United States and Canada looking for good investments in booming economies. After all, both Canada and the United States did well in that period, because European immigration not only continued, but grew stronger because of the down-turn in the European economies. Therefore, the consumer economies of North America prospered, and there was good reason to build more factories and railroads. European investors with money to invest came here to invest it. At one point, Americans became alarmed because the Germans and the English got into bidding wars, attempting to buy up all the breweries in the United States, which was, for obvious reasons, a huge beer market. American breweries today, though, are owned by Americans.
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literarypoland
 
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Reply Tue 12 Jun, 2007 12:30 pm
And how do you think, what was the breaking point? Americans started to have more money and were able to take over the foreign-owned businesses, or was some law implemented? And nowadays, how far laws banning foreign investment go in America?
I know that you have had problems with Arabs recently (ports), but the Japanese are a strong presence despite these TV-smashing actions around 1990.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Tue 12 Jun, 2007 03:07 pm
No, there is no legislation in the United States to prevent foreign ownership--there have been scares, such as foreign capitalists buying farms, and the Japanese television passage. But the responses will be indirect. So, with the televisions, legislation was passed which required all imported televisions to have all he available channels on the dial--so the Japanese did that. Legislation to prevent the Japanese from beating up the American auto industry said the Japanese could only import so many cars. The response on their part was to import much more luxurious and expensive cars rather than the cracker box cheap cars they used to import. Protectionist legislation either doesn't work, or doesn't get passed at all, mostly because there are always Americans who have a stake in the market, and don't want the Congress to interfere. When Congress does interfere, it usually doesn't work. In the example of the televisions, even with the new restrictions, the Japanese still beat the hell out of American television manufacturers on the low end models, until they couldn't compete with the expensive, luxury models because their sales had fallen off too much for them to remain profitable. The end result was that all the American television manufacturers either started making their product overseas and importing it, or they went out of business. Even those who used overseas labor to reduce their production costs eventually went out of business.

In the earlier example (1875-1893), when the European economies improved, European investors slowly got their money out and went home to invest--which allowed American investors to take over domestic production facilities again. I doubt that any of this is cyclical, but i suspect that it happens again and again to a greater or lesser extent in all societies.
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literarypoland
 
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Reply Wed 13 Jun, 2007 12:41 pm
Until 1939 Poland was a part of the already global economy. Now, after the Communist gap, we've been learning everything anew.
Our local capitalists are at the point of their first own foreign investments in neighboring countries like Lithuania, Germany or Romania. Our science is not innovative and educated young people emigrate abroad to work menial jobs.
Generally, the international bulldozer has rolled us flat and I don't know if we'll ever offer resistance. I understand that these branches and our market are not even of special importance, but rather a border province of Capitalism.

As to legislation, I'm sure that foreign food chains have restricted access to for example England or Germany.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Thu 14 Jun, 2007 08:08 am
Food is a politically crucial issue. French farmers and Japanese farmers have an unrealistically large amount of political power. This arises because in both countries, raising enough food to feed the nation without importing food, and therefore being independent of the effects of interference with trade in time of war, are very crucial priorities. In France, the agricultural population is still relatively large (modern agricultural methods means that a very few people can feed many thousands), but still not at all large in comparison to the political power they wield--the French always want to be able to be independent in their food supply, if necessay. That doesn't mean that they don't import, but farmers have a lot of political power, and agricultural subsidies and market restrictions are facts of political life.

In Japan, the situation is even more extreme. Written history is about 1500 years old in Japan. The evidence is very good that even before the beginning of written history in the Yamato period, the farmer was held in special esteem. Throughout written Japanese history, the farmer occupied a social position just below the Bushi (the "Samurai" warrior class) and the great lords, and above merchants, artists, skilled craftsmen and the laboring poor. This was not despite, but precisely because throughout their history, the limiting factor on their population was the ability to feed themselves. The Japanese never particularly got along well with their neighbors, and for a thousand years and more, it was illegal in China to export to Japan--meaning any Chinese products they got were smuggled, or brought in by a middleman, such as the Portuguese or the Dutch from the 16th century onward. The Sengoku or Warring States period ended with the victory of Tokugawa Shogunate in about 1600 (formally, Tokugawa Ieyasu became shogun in 1603). Thereafter began the "Edo period," which refers to the city of Edo, which we now call Tokyo. The Tokugawa bureaucrats kept very careful and accurate records. The basic economic unit of Japan was the koku, a measure of rice roughly equivalent to 180 liters of dry grain, which was considered the amount necessary to feed on adult male for one year. Early in the Tokugawa shogunate, the census show that there were 30,000,000 people living in Japan, and that the production of rice was 25,000,000 koku. Even taking into consideration that the elderly, children and the laboring poor may not have gotten a full koku of rice to eat each year, it should be obvious that they were living on an agricultural knife edge. With two thousand years (more or less) of such a food situation, it is little wonder that the Japanese farmers were so revered.

Today, the population of Japanese farmers is very small. They wield enormous influence with politicians and the general population, and therefore have political power out of all proportion to their numbers. By Japanese law, rice in its ordinary dry grain form cannot be imported. Only processed rice foods can be imported. Even so, Japanese farmers cannot keep up with demand, and the dry grain form of rice is only imported by act of the parliament. Processed rice can be imported, such as rice cakes and sushi (sushi are actually the glazed rice cakes on which seafood is served in a sushi restaurant). The largest importer of processed rice to Japan is the United States. But dry grain rice cannot be imported from the United States--otherwise, the Japanese farmer would be driven out of business in short order.

It is a political fantasy of the Japanese that they could ever hope to feed their population again from their own agricultural resources. But it is a powerful fantasy. Given the realities of political unreality, it should never surprise you that nations closely watch and narrowly regulate food imports.
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literarypoland
 
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Reply Thu 14 Jun, 2007 12:53 pm
As a translator, I can't complain. The more interaction, the better for me. But I'm not sure whether the workers from Solidarity were aiming at an economy controlled by foreign shareholders. Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. We export animal products and furniture, fruit and arms.
The stock exchange in Warsaw hinges on foreign speculators, and the debt caused by state bonds is growing rapidly.
Generally, if this sort of capitalism proves anti-Polish, Poles may even turn to Russia, their big and ever stronger Slavic brother. Poles are known for their short-lived enthusiasms, the so-called "straw zeal".
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