The United States in the Soviet Perspective

  • Alexander Dallin


The Soviet view of the United States is inherently ambiguous. The United States is the object of both envy and scorn; the enemy to fight, expose and pillory — and the model to emulate, catch up with and overtake. There are multiple sources, reinforcing each other, for this ambiguity. There are traditional Russian views going back a century or more, as well as the ‘scratches on their minds’ in the Bolshevik leaders’ grudging admiration of symbols of industrial efficiency such as Pittsburgh and Detroit, along with their conviction that American capital has been responsible for crises and abuse in the world economy from the Great Depression to the multi-national corporations of our day. There are the Soviet ideological biases which, coupled with overwhelming ignorance regarding the United States, shaped much of Moscow’s attitudes in the Stalin days. And, it must be recognized, the reality of American life and behaviour often validates and reinforces such uncertainties: however distorted the Soviet image, both American intervention after the Russian Revolution and Allied partnership against Nazi Germany did indeed occur; there is a basis for the images of both abundance and squalor; there are the Pentagon and populism, optimism and opportunity, as well as racism and the shallowness of a mass culture symbolized by such figures as Mickey Mouse and Elvis Presley.


United States Foreign Policy American Policy American Foreign Policy Mickey Mouse 
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Copyright information

© The International Institute for Strategic Studies 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Dallin

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