Yale Richmond is a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer, the author of 11 books on intercultural communication, and he worked on U.S.-Soviet cultural and other exchanges for more than 20 years. Yale delivered the following speech at the Aleksanteri Institute’s 9th Annual Conference “Cold War Interactions Reconsidered” 29-31 October 2009, University of Helsinki, Finland. This is the first of two parts and originally appeared at Whirled View. It is published here with the author’s permission.
I want to thank the Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki for this opportunity to speak to you. It is an honor to be asked to address such a well-informed audience.
First a disclaimer. Although I worked for the US Government for more than 35 years, and many of those years on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, I do not speak for the State Department today. The views I present here today are my own.
There are many theories of why communism collapsed and the Cold War ended, as you will likely be hearing in this conference.
There are a few grains of truth in some of those explanations, and more than a few in others, but I will provide today many grains of another explanation–that the end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism were consequences of Soviet contacts and cultural exchanges with the West, and with the United States in particular, over the years that followed the death of Stalin in 1953.
When cultural exchange with the Soviets is mentioned, most people think of Soviet dancers, symphony orchestras, ice shows, and circuses that came to the West and filled our halls with admiring spectators. But cultural exchange consisted of much more–exhibitions, motion pictures, and most important, exchanges of people.
Continue reading “Cultural Exchange and the Cold War: How the West Won