Does the U. S. Get Along with Russia?
Many people in the United States have been critical of Communist propaganda abroad, of Russia’s policy toward religion, and of the anticapitalist features of Soviet economy. Yet, except over the Russo-Finnish war, relations between, the United States and Russia were relatively friendly between 1933, when we recognized the Soviet government, and 1941, when Germany invaded Russia. Since 1941, when both the United States and Russia entered the war, our relations have been marked by increasing understanding and mutual desire to work together both in time of war and in the postwar period.
Our two countries have much in common. Both possess vast territories and rich natural resources and have therefore little to gain by conquest; nor does either covet the other’s lands or riches. Both want peace in order to carry on their own agricultural and industrial development and improve the welfare of their peoples. At times both have been in the forefront of international efforts to avert war, although both, paradoxically, have followed to a greater or lesser degree a policy of isolation.
The process of leveling off differences between Russia and the Western world will proceed. all the more rapidly if Russia participates freely and equally in the life of the international community. It will be further helped if the Western world seeks to understand Russia and its policy in terms of Russia’s basic national interests. Participation in international agencies would afford the Russians an opportunity to share the experience of Western countries. Most Russians have been acquainted with the West only through Soviet publications, which until the German invasion sought to decry conditions in “bourgeois” countries.
It would be particularly valuable for the Russians to get to know actual conditions in the United States at firsthand, just as it would be valuable for Americans to get to know actual conditions in Russia at firsthand. Russians are eager and curious to learn about America, and everything that can be done to reach a mutual understanding between the two peoples in a period critical for the destiny of both would serve to clear the ground for peacetime collaboration.
Why should it be said of the USSR, “It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma?” The answer lies in part, as far as Americans are concerned, in lack of reliable information
about the Soviet Union and its people. Many Americans are willing to express forthright opinions about this fighting ally, but few of their opinions are founded on more than superficial knowledge or incomplete facts. Some Americans have tried to inform themselves about our Russian ally by systematic reading or discussion. Only a handful have visited the Soviet Union. And yet it is important for all American citizens to have a sound basis upon which to build an intelligent under-.standing of the USSR.