This Day in Commonwealth Club History: November 20, 2014
BY CHRISTOPHER WENDT
An address given 50 years ago today at the Club shows how Russia’s contentious relationship with the United States and Western Europe then was remarkably similar to what it is today
Stefan Possony, the director of the International Studies Program at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, asserted that with Lenoid Brezhnev’s appointment to general secretary, “the Cold War … is not over. The Communists have not changed their intent — which is to overtake the United States in military technology, to outmaneuver the United States and its allies strategically, and to carry the international revolution to its victorious conclusion.”
When asked by an audience member about whether the Soviet Union would consider relinquishing control of its satellite states, Possony responded, “It’s foolish to assume status quo in East Germany and the satellites. It’s one of the most unstable situations that ever existed.”
Possony’s statements of 50 years ago mirror the current anxiety over the political ambitions of the Russian Federation and its polarizing president, Vladimir Putin. Many commentators, including recent Club guests Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the former president of Latvia, and Adam Michnik, the editor-in-chief of Poland’s largest newspaper, have criticized Putin for interfering in the affairs of one-time satellites — most notably in Ukraine —and creating a political atmosphere in Eastern Europe reminiscent of the confrontational Soviet era.