Foreign Policy, Atleast 300-400 words, history homework help

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Discussion Question:

Please read the General
Descriptions and Primary Documents.  Time willing, try to sample some of
the scholarly analysis.  Then discuss what you feel to be the greatest
external threats facing the Soviet Union in the 1930s and how the Soviet
Union reacted to these threats.

Foreign Policy

As
in the domestic sphere, it is difficult to separate the practical and
ideological when looking at Soviet foreign policy in the 1930s.  The
Soviets were capable of hard-headed recognition of State interests but
could not help letting ideological tendencies creep into their analysis
of diplomatic affairs.  In addition to the stresses of national
rivalries, the Soviets assumed that the “bourgeois” states were intent
on toppling the lone communist power.  Conversely, all of the Soviet
Union’s rivals and potential allies could not overlook the Bolsheviks’
revolutionary ideology when formulating their own policies.

Despite
the retreat from internationalism inherent with the policy of
“socialism in one country,” Stalin and the Soviet leadership were not
able to seal off the country from the rest of the world.  Possessing the
largest land mass of any country in the world afforded the Soviet
governments with great advantages, particularly in natural resources,
but also posed the challenge of how to defend the extended borders.

In
addition to being a great power, in the traditional sense of military
prowess, the Soviet Union also was the de facto head of an ideological
movement that aspired to upend the political status quo in the most
powerful countries of the world.  Although we know that Stalin
deemphasized the task of international revolution, this was not well
understood by contemporary observers who continued to view the Soviet
Union as a sponsor of subversive activity everywhere. 

Technically,
the cause of promoting communism abroad belonged not to the Soviet
state but to the Communist International (Comintern) that formed in the
aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution.  Technically, again, this was a
stand-alone, autonomous entity, but the Comintern was headquartered in
Moscow and many of its leading, non-Soviet officials were refugees
subject to arrest in their native countries, so the Soviet government
was in a position to influence, if not dictate, Comintern policy and
activity.

Several key events during the 1930s influenced Soviet
international behavior more than others, the first being the Nazi
takeover of Germany in 1933.  For the previous decade the Soviets and
Germans had enjoyed a cooperative relationship as fellow “outcasts of
Versailles.”  But the Nazis almost immediately identified
anti-Bolshevism (which they closely associated with Jews) as the
unifying principle of their foreign policy.  Moreover, the circumstances
with which the Nazis so easily dismantled the Weimar regime represented
the failure of Comintern policy which forbade the German Communist
Party, which rivaled the Nazis in influence and paramilitary force, from
cooperating with more moderate socialist parties.

In the wake of
the Nazi takeover, Comintern adopted a new strategy of the “popular
front,” whereby communists were encouraged to work in collaboration with
other left-wing parties to prevent fascism.  This policy was put to the
test when the Soviets intervened to defend the Republican government
during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-38.  This proved to be a fiasco, as
the Soviets proved incapable of unifying the pro-Republican forces and
quickly became more preoccupied with repressing rival socialists than
with fighting Franco’s Falange movement.

The third event, to which
the Soviets were mere bystanders, was the Munich Agreement of 1938,
where the Western leaders notoriously sacrificed Czechoslovak territory
to appease Hitler.  The Soviets were not invited to the conference,
although they had mutual assistance treaties with both Czechoslovakia
and France.  Before Munich, the Soviets were engaged in negotiations
with Great Britain and France on forming a grand anti-Nazi alliance. 
But Munich convinced the Soviets how untrustworthy the French and
British were in fulfilling their commitments.  It also seemed that the
Western powers were banking on directing Hitler’s aggressive impulses
eastward.  Munich set in motion a reassessment of Soviet diplomacy which
resulted in the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of August 1939.

General Descriptions:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/cccp-forrel-stalin.htm

http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-12453.html

http://spartacus-educational.com/RUScomintern.htm

Primary Documents:

Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov’s speech to the League of Nations (1935): http://www.greatspeeches.net/2013/05/maxim-litvinov-league-of-nations.html

“France-U.S.S.R.: Treaty of Mutual Assistance.” The American Journal of International Law 30, no. 4 (1936): 177-80.

Scholarly Articles:

Alastair Kocho-Williams, “The Soviet Diplomatic Corps and Stalin’s Purges” The Slavonic and East European Review (1993) Vol. 86, No. 1, pp. 90-110.

Daniel Kowalsky, “Operation X:  The Soviet Union and the Spanish Civil War” Bulletin of Spanish Studies (2014) Vol. 91, Nos. 1-2, pp. 159-178.

Igor Lukes, “Stalin and Benes at the end of September, 1938:  New Evidence from the Prague  Archives” Slavic Review (1993) Vol. 52, No. 1, pp. 28-48.

Robert C. Tucker, “The Emergence of Stalin’s Foreign Policy” Slavic Review (1977) Vol 36, No.4, pp. 563-589.