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Home Main Forums General Discussion The First Cold War Was Different

  • Fire with Fire (1195 posts)
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    The First Cold War Was Different

    The Kitchen Debate between Nixon and Khrushchev in 1959.  Things were different in those days:


    The Kitchen Debate was a series of impromptu exchanges (through interpreters) between then U.S. Vice PresidentRichard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the opening of the American National Exhibition at Sokolniki Park in Moscow on July 24, 1959. For the exhibition, an entire house was built that the American exhibitors claimed anyone in America could afford. It was filled with labor-saving and recreational devices meant to represent the fruits of the capitalist American consumer market. The debate was recorded on color videotape and Nixon made reference to this fact; it was subsequently rebroadcast in both countries.

    In 1959, the Soviets and Americans had agreed to hold exhibits in each other’s countries as a cultural exchange to promote understanding. This was a result of the 1958 U.S. – Soviet Cultural Agreement. The Soviet exhibit in New York opened in June 1959, and the following month Vice President Nixon was on hand to open the US exhibit in Moscow. Nixon took Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev on a tour of the exhibit. There were multiple displays and consumer goods provided by over 450 American companies. A centerpiece of the exhibit was a geodesic dome, which housed scientific and technical experiments in a 30,000 square foot facility. This was later purchased by the Soviets at the end of the Moscow exhibition.[1] As recounted by William Safire who was present as the exhibitor’s press agent, the Kitchen debate took place in a number of locations at the exhibition but primarily in the kitchen of a suburban model house, cut in half for easy viewing.[2] This was only one of a series of four meetings that occurred between Nixon and Khrushchev during the 1959 exhibition. Nixon was accompanied by President Eisenhower’s younger brother, Milton S. Eisenhower, former president of Johns Hopkins University.[3]

    During the first meeting, in the Kremlin, Khrushchev surprised Nixon when he protested the Captive Nations Resolution passed by the US Congress that condemned the Soviet Union for its “control” over the “captive” peoples of Eastern Europe and called upon Americans to pray for those people. After protesting the actions of the US Congress, he dismissed the new technology of the US and declared that the Soviets would have all of the same things in a few years and then say “Bye bye” as they surpassed the U.S.[4] He satirically asked if there was a machine that “puts food into the mouth and pushes it down”.[5] Nixon responded by saying at least the competition was technological, rather than military. Both men agreed that the United States and the Soviet Union should seek areas of agreement.[4] The second visit occurred in a television studio inside the American exhibit. At the end, Khrushchev stated that everything he had said in their debate should be translated into English and broadcast in the US. Nixon responded “Certainly it will, and everything I say is to be translated into Russian and broadcast across the Soviet Union. That’s a fair bargain.” To this proposal, Khrushchev shook hands vigorously.[4]

    The exchange between Khrushchev and Nixon is interesting because while they were discussing which country was superior, they did not compare nuclear weapons, political influence, or control of territories. [“The World Transformed: 1945 to the Present”] They were using the technological innovations set up in the exhibit to compete with one another.


    Khrushchev claimed that following his confrontation with Nixon he did all he could to bring about Nixon’s defeat in his 1960 presidential campaign.[2] The trip raised Nixon’s profile as a public statesman, greatly improving his chances for receiving the Republican presidential nomination the following year.[16]


    Shaking hands with the guy who was going to bury us.

    Negotiation of a cultural treaty rather than issuing “sanctions.”

    Technological competition over improving the lives of their respective citizenries rather than who was more of a badass.

    And ol’ Nikita just up and said he tried to influence the election.


    Today’s Russia Russia Russia bullshit is very different from our holding Communism at bay.  Now that the Ruskies are capitalists, NOW we say fuck friendship.  Hmmmmmm.


    twenty, OCMI, mmonk and 2 othersiggy, Doremus Jessup like this

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  • Doremus Jessup (3268 posts)
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    1. Quite different.

    I would imagine that back then people didn’t forget that Russia kicked Germany’s ass while losing over 30 million people and won the war for the allies. We don’t do actual wars with large countries or countries with real weapons. We settle for mindfuck games instead. We’re a sorry lot historically.

    Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity. End ALL occupations and bring the troops home.
  • INTJ (3285 posts)
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    2. There was a race to be more badass. MRV's and the 'shell' game of MX launchers

    on “race tracks” shuttling among bunkers, and of course, more dependable engines with better guidance (mostly done under the cover of race to the moon).

    Boomers and hunter/killer submarines.  Hypersonic bombers.

    And there were those nasty proxy wars.   Long expensive proxy wars for both sides that created ever increasing defense costs

    Indeed, it was the cost of Russia’s war in Afghanistan and the perception they’d never catch up in the costly race for Star Wars missile interceptors that brought a crushing end to it all for the Soviets.

    The US’s faked Star Wars missile interceptor thing still doesn’t work well.  Not really well enough to be adequate to protect the US from Korean missles…

    Last time the US was able to survive the spending spree.  We ran up huge deficits, deferred infrastructure and privatized all manner of social spending other ‘developed’ nations provide unquestioningly as essential.

    It’s not so clear that the US has global economic superiority to pull that off again.





    Consider the policy?  Hey, choosing to run on Identity Politics -IS- a policy decision.  
    • Fire with Fire (1195 posts)
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      5. There certainly was a hot and expensive dimension to the First Cold War

      But that is not what the OP is about.

      It is about the political rhetoric.  Today, we do not even bother to mention how prosperous our people are — because the American middle class celebrated by that exhibit is shrinking both in numbers and in its share of the national wealth.  Instead our government and its friendly media outlets are screaming about how the Other is meddling, colluding, and manipulating our government, without even suggesting a motive other than that “the Russians”  or “Putin” are meddlers, colluders and manipulators.

      The circular logic is breathtaking in its boldness, even as polling shows that only a thin slice of the country is paying much attention to the rap.

      I looked up the Kitchen Debate because I thought I remembered Nixon actually saying, “You may be ahead of us in nuclear missiles, but we are ahead of you in Color Television.”  Wiki had no reference to that, and I see that the TV recording was in color — which was still a novelty in the late 50s.  Stretching my memory back six decades, I believe that “quote” was actually a Mort Sahl joke.

      At any rate, this shows that the Hair on Fire horseshit about Russians assuming virtual American identities to tell Americans that Hillary sucks is a brand new concept that even Tricky Dicky would not have dreamed of floating.


      And, what absolutely cinches for me the idea that we are all the way to Orwell now is how lockstep the indignation is about things that have been laughed off for decades — like Khrushchev keeping Nixon out of the White House.

  • RufusTFirefly (3138 posts)
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    3. As a side note, the "we will bury you" remark was a mistranslation

    Apparently, Khrushchev’s remark was not nearly as bellicose as the version we heard in the U.S. What he really suggested was that the communist system would outlive the capitalist one.

  • tk2kewl (2088 posts)
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    4. Proof that JFK was a Russian stooge

     I knew it!