Ion Valer Xenofontov: Cold War lesson - to win with modesty and to lose with grace

The Soviet state wanted to create the illusion that what’s better in the world can be found only in the Soviet world. The Cold War was the period of great shocks experienced by the Russians, who realized at what inferior level they were in relation to the Western world, lecturer Ion Valer Xenofontov, doctor of history, stated in a public debate hosted by IPN.

The doctor of history noted that during the Cold War, the differences between the two rival states were visible and started from the way in which the people dressed, entertained themselves, ate and combined food up to the way in which scientific development was stimulated. Trying to compete with the West, the Russians managed to make particular progress through lie and theft.

“We earlier spoke about the nuclear weapon that was an accomplishment of the American science, surely with intelligence coming also from the West. It reached the Soviet laboratories only through theft and military espionage. Paradoxically, but this war revolutionized also science, technologies. As there was a confrontation at all levels, the military technologies had to come to the forefront. Space travel, the travel to the Moon also formed part of that cold war,” stated Ion Valer Xenofontov.

He noted that the way in which the people worked and vacationed was also fully different from that in the Western world, while the Soviet citizen was deprived of the right to at least know that there was a different type of life. As Ion Druță said, “we do not have the cult of vacationing as this cult is in the West. In the West, the people know to work and to vacation. We, those who come from that Soviet times, were taught that we must work, but they didn’t talk much about comfort, about how to amuse oneself then. This thing was seen in Druță’s works,” stated the lecturer.

Ion Valer Xenofontov also said that after the Soviet Union fell apart, a plan for the Russian Federation was needed. If this plan had come from the U.S., the annexation of Crimea, the war in Ukraine would have been avoided. “Russia, as Germany after World War I, felt wounded, humiliated. It was an empire and suddenly remained without sources of energy. It didn’t know to switch over to an adjusted lifestyle. It should have been guided, reintegrated into this civilized world. This is the big lesson of those who decide: be attentive to the great powers not to humiliate them. So, there should be employed the Olympic principle saying “win with modesty and lose with grace”. If the great powers had discovered this formula - even if in history the question “what if?” is not put, but we can speculate - we would have probably discussed in different terms now,” noted Ion Valer Xenofontov.

The public debate entitled “Lessons of Cold War” was the 21st installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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