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For example at the close of the war in Europe we made an agreement with the Soviet leadership regarding the treatment of their prisoners of war who were overrun by us in Western Europe and they were to give similar treatment to American prisoners of war in overrun by the Soviet forces in Eastern Europe. Well as all as so often happens we carried out our agreement in accordance with our own conception of humane treatment of recovered prisoners of war in Eastern Europe. The Soviet government treated our prisoners of war overrun by them as if they were their own prisoners of war. Now the Soviet leadership just couldn't accept the fact that people had been overrun in the fighting and had survived. They regarded their own prisoners of war taken by the Germans as suspected of treason or at least of faint hearted resistance.
The idea that none of these suspicions were in our own mind about our own prisoners was beyond their thinking. Instead of providing in that agreement I made it all to that. The American troops would be treated by the Soviet government like their own prisoners of war we should have spelled out our own standards of treatment and insisted on the right to apply them. If we had explained to the Soviet leadership that we needed these prisoners of war because we were short of manpower because we needed them in the war against Japan. I'm sure they would have understood the interest of the state and would have given a much better co-operation. They just did not understand our concept of the needs and of the humane treatment due to prisoners of war whom we had recovered. One difficulty
in our attitude toward the Soviet negotiators is that we start from different assumptions about what war and peace we feel and this feeling is based upon our history that there is a sharp difference between war and peace. We are inclined to fight a war for all of his worth and to let the peace take care of itself. We have traditionally stumbled into a war rather than planned it in advance. All this is a very different matter to the Russians because for more than 300 years they have been engaged in a war on an average of every 20 years. They just do not feel that there is a fundamental difference between war and peace. And their leadership. Lenin and Stalin also absorbed very early. The concept that that conflict goes on continuously that it
is inescapable that it is not removed by expressions of goodwill or desire for peace. Of course conflict to the Soviet leadership does not necessarily mean war at any given time or over any given question. For them conflict may take peaceful or warlike forms. But the fact of conflict is something which they regard as inherent in the whole situation and not something which can be removed by an agreement or by a form of words. This means that our hope after the war that we could negotiate a post-war settlement with the Soviet government then relax and go home and sit on the front porch was an illusion. The Soviet leadership felt that with the defeat of Germany and Japan and Japan a new period of a different kind of conflict would emerge. And very shortly they made it clear that they
regarded the United States with its great untouched power and resources and its great position of leadership in the world. As the chief enemy the chief obstacle to the further expansion of their power. The Soviet leadership also feels as Stalin reinforced in his statement of September 19 52 that the outside world is torn by conflicts conflicts within countries conflicts among countries and that the Soviet orbit on the other hand is fully united and therefore has strength from unity. I believe that he is mistaken in this but if the Soviet leadership acts upon this assumption it means that they would prefer to postpone the direct use of Soviet force and would prefer to await what they regard as the inevitable decay of the non Soviet world its strength and its unity.
That means that our position must be one of building strength and at the same time being willing to use negotiation wherever it is possible to strengthen our side by negotiation. We cannot expect in my opinion to bring about an overall settlement with the Soviet leaders. This is something alien to their way of thinking. They just do not take it in as a possibility. But to go on from the fact that we are engaged in an underlying conflict for survival of our way of life to say that there is nothing on which we will ever negotiate would also be a point of weakness for our side. We also need to be alert as we build strength to use negotiation to settle individual points to settle individual disputes. To alleviate tension where we can here and there and thus strengthen the free world in turn
and in negotiation we must not only be strong but we must also try to understand the very different basis upon which the Soviet negotiators approach any negotiation. The very different way in which they look at the world with which we are familiar and which seems so strange to them while their behavior in turn seems completely strange to us. The strange behavior of the Soviet diplomats and analysis by Dr Philip mostly director of the Russian Institute at Columbia University. This talk was another transcribed program in the series people under communism. The series as a whole was prepared in consultation with scholars from the Russian Institute of Columbia the Hoover Institute and library at Stanford University and the Russian Research Center at Harvard University.
This is Parker Wheatley. These programs are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters and are made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. This is the ne tape network.
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People under communism
Strange behavior of the Soviet diplomats, part two
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents the second part of a talk by Professor Philip E. Mosely of Columbia University: "The Strange Behavior of the Soviet Diplomats".
Series Description
A series of documentaries, interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union.
Broadcast Date
Politics and Government
Diplomats--Soviet Union--History--20th century.
Media type
Advisor: Hoover Institute and Library on War, Revolution, and Peace
Advisor: Columbia University. Russian Institute
Advisor: Harvard University. Russian Research Center
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Host: Wheatley, Parker, 1906-1999
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Mosely, Philip E. (Philip Edward), 1905-1972
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-38-20 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:07:52
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Chicago: “People under communism; Strange behavior of the Soviet diplomats, part two,” 1953-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 23, 2024,
MLA: “People under communism; Strange behavior of the Soviet diplomats, part two.” 1953-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 23, 2024. <>.
APA: People under communism; Strange behavior of the Soviet diplomats, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from