Was Stalin’s Foreign Policy a Failure?

Martin McCauley reviews Stalin's foreign policy, paying special attention to his covert involvement in the Korean war. He shows that, despite short-term successes, his record can be seen as one of long-term failure.

In Russia at present there is growing support for the view that the Stalin years (1929-53) were the best experienced by Russia in the 20th century. The present Russian government has had to ask the US and the EU for food aid, while the western world feared the expansion of communist power during the last years of Stalin. The Korean war (1950-3) appeared to add credence to this view. The Soviet Union was only a regional power when Stalin became leader in 1929 but, when he died in 1953, it had become a world power, soon to be a superpower. Does this mean that Stalin was brilliantly successful in foreign affairs'? Yet the state he built up collapsed in 1991 and today Russia is again only a regional power. So Russia has gone full circle. May one trace this fiasco back to Stalin, or is it the fault of his inept successors? To answer these questions, we need to examine the purpose of foreign policy and criteria for its success or failure.

Soviet foreign policy, 1928-39

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