The Ruble War: A Study of Russia’s Economic Penetration versus U. S. Foreign Aid, by Howard K. Smith and five other correspondents of CBS News.
Five out of five stars
The context of the publication of this book in 1958 is set by the famous line uttered by Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev to Western diplomats in 1956. The phrase was likely mistranslated as “We will bury you,” when in fact it should have been something like, “We will outlast you.” The point was that the command economy structure of the communist states led by the Soviet Union would outperform the capitalist economies of the west.
Thirty years after the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of its’ Eastern European empire, the notion of the west ever losing the economic struggle with communism seems absurd. However, those with greater depth of understanding will realize that the ideological struggle between capitalism and communism is not yet over. In only a few decades the People’s Republic of China has risen from an economically backward nation to one having what is arguably the largest economy in the world. No political figure in the world wields as much internal power as Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The authors of this book briefly describe the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in seeking influence among other nations by providing economic aid and assistance through investment in infrastructure. At the time, there were many reasons to believe that the Soviet Union would prove to be a stiff competition to capitalism. With the messiness of having to extensively debate issues in democracies before any action can be taken, the authors state that this would fall behind a system where the leader can “make it so” by stating their position and giving the order.
This book is a fascinating look back to a time when communism was considered a real threat as an alternative economic and political system and there was reason to believe that it would eventually prove to be superior to capitalism.