Novikov, Nikolai V.
Nikolai V. Novikov
Excerpt from the "Novikov Telegram," September 27, 1946
Available at Cold War International History Project (Web site)
"Careful note should be taken of the fact that the preparation by the United States for a future is being conducted with the prospect of war against the Soviet Union, which in the eyes of the American imperialists is the main obstacle in the path of the United States to world domination."
N ikolai V. Novikov, Soviet ambassador to Washington, D.C., wrote and sent the "Novikov Telegram" to Moscow on September 27, 1946. In the telegram, which, like the famous telegram of U.S. advisor George F. Kennan (1904–), was "long," Novikov analyzed U.S. foreign policy in much the same way Kennan analyzed Soviet foreign policy, his "Long Telegram."
Novikov declared that the United States was striving for "world supremacy." He suggested that because Europe was so devastated by World War II (1939–45), the United States would "infiltrate" countries with offers of aid to rebuild. This strategy, according to Novikov, fit with U.S. plans for world domination. More proof was found, he suggested, in the large U.S. peacetime military force and in the establishment of U.S. bases worldwide. Novikov mentioned the "Iron Curtain Speech" of former British prime minister Winston Churchill (1874–1965), noting that Churchill called for a strong British-U.S. military alliance. Novikov attributed America's new hard-line policy to a new U.S. president, Harry S. Truman (1884–1972; served 1945–53), who was less cooperative than his late predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945; served 1933–45). Novikov ended his telegram with the prediction that the United States was planning a Third World War that would be waged against the Soviet Union.
Things to remember while reading the "Novikov Telegram":
- When Novikov used the word democratic, he was actually referring to the communistic world. For example, his "strengthening of democratic tendencies" means strengthening of communist tendencies. It was a characteristic of postwar communism to refer to their "communistic" policies as "democratic" policies.
- Novikov believed that the policies of the United States were expansive and aiming for world domination.
- Novikov's analysis was written approximately six months after Kennan's "Long Telegram" and Churchill's "Iron Curtain Speech." Both called for a tough stance against the Soviet Union. The United States had adopted such a position by the time of Novikov's telegram.
Excerpt from the "Novikov Telegram"
The foreign policy of the United States, which reflects the imperialist tendencies … is characterized in the postwar period by a striving for world supremacy. This is the real meaning of the many statements by President [Harry] Truman and other representatives of American ruling circles: that the United States has the right to lead the world. All the forces of American diplomacy—the army, the air force, the navy, industry, and science—are enlisted in the service of this foreign policy. For this purpose broad plans for expansion have been developed and are being implemented through diplomacy and the establishment of a system of naval and air bases stretching far beyond the boundaries of the United States, through the arms race, and through the creation of ever newer types of weapons.…
Europe has come out of the war with a completely dislocated economy, and the economic devastation that occurred in the course of the war cannot be overcome in a short time. All of the countries of Europe and Asia are experiencing a colossal need for consumer goods, industrial and transportation equipment, etc. Such a situation provides American monopolistic capital with prospects for enormous shipments of goods and the importation of capital into these countries—a circumstance that would permit it to infiltrate their national economies.
Such a development would mean a serious strengthening of the economic position of the United States in the whole world and would be a stage on the road to world domination by the United States.
On the other hand, we have seen a failure of calculations on the part of U.S. circles which assumed that the Soviet Union would be destroyed in the war or would come out of it so weakened that it would be forced to go begging to the United States for economic assistance. Had that happened, they would have been able to dictate conditionspermitting the United States to carry out its expansion in Europe and Asia without hindrance from the USSR [the Soviet Union].
In actuality, despite all of the economic difficulties of the postwar period connected with the enormous losses inflicted by the war and the German fascist occupation, the Soviet Union continues to remain economically independent of the outside world and is rebuilding its national economy with its own forces.…
The enormous relative weight of the USSR in international affairs in general and in the European countries in particular, the independence of its foreign policy, and the economic and political assistance that it provides to neighboring countries, both allies and former enemies, has led to the growth of the political influence of the Soviet Union in these countries and to the further strengthening of democratic tendencies in them.
Such a situation in Eastern and Southeastern Europe cannot help but be regarded by the American imperialists as an obstacle in the path of the expansionist policy of the United States.
The foreign policy of the United States is not determined at present by the circles in the Democratic party that (as was the case during [Franklin] Roosevelt's lifetime) strive to strengthen the cooperation of the three great powers that constituted the basis of the anti-Hitler coalition during the war. The ascendance to power of President Truman, a politically unstable person but with certain conservative tendencies, and the subsequent appointment of [James] Byrnes as Secretary of State meant a strengthening of the influence on U.S. foreign policy of the most reactionary circles of the Democratic party.…
Obvious indications of the U.S. effort to establish world dominance are also to be found in the increase in military potential in peacetime and in the establishment of a large number of naval and air bases both in the United States and beyond its borders.…
All of these facts show clearly that a decisive role in the realization of plans for world dominance by the United States is played by its armed forces.…
The ruling circles of the United States obviously have a sympathetic attitude toward the idea of a military alliance with England, but at the present time the matter has not yet culminated in an official alliance. [Winston] Churchill's speech in Fulton calling for the conclusion of an Anglo-American military alliance for the purpose ofestablishing joint domination over the world was therefore not supported officially by Truman or Byrnes, although Truman by his presence [during the "Iron Curtain Speech"] did indirectly sanction Churchill's appeal.
Even if the United States does not go so far as to conclude a military alliance with England just now, in practice they still maintain very close contact on military questions.…
The numerous and extremely hostile statements by American government, political, and military figures with regard to the Soviet Union and its foreign policy are very characteristic of the current relationship between the ruling circles of the United States and the USSR. These statements are echoed in an even more unrestrained tone by the overwhelming majority of the American press organs. Talk about a "third war," meaning a war against the Soviet Union, even a direct call for this war—with the threat of using the atomic bomb—such is the content of the statements on relations with the Soviet Union by reactionaries at public meetings and in the press.…
The basic goal of this anti-Soviet campaign of American "public opinion" is to exert political pressure on the Soviet Union and compel it to make concessions. Another, no less important goal of the campaign is the attempt to create an atmosphere of war psychosis among the masses, who are weary of war, thus making it easier for the U.S. government to carry out measures for the maintenance of high military potential. It was in this very atmosphere that the law on universal military service in peacetime was passed by congress, that the huge military budget was adopted, and that plans are being worked out for the construction of an extensive system of naval and air bases.
Of course, all of these measures for maintaining a highly military potential are not goals in themselves. They are only intended to prepare the conditions for winning world supremacy in a new war, the date for which, to be sure, cannot be determined now by anyone, but which is contemplated by the most bellicose circles of American imperialism.
Careful note should be taken of the fact that the preparation by the United States for a future is being conducted with the prospect of war against the Soviet Union, which in the eyes of the American imperialists is the main obstacle in the path of the United States to world domination. This is indicated by facts such as the tactical training of the American army for war with the Soviet Union as thefuture opponent, the siting of American strategic bases in regions from which it is possible to launch strikes on Soviet territory, intensified training and strengthening of Arctic regions as close approaches to the USSR, and attempts to prepare Germany and Japan to use those countries in a war against the USSR.
What happened next …
The "Novikov Telegram" was studied carefully by Stalin and other leaders in the Soviet Communist Party. Adding credibility to the telegram's messages was the U.S. establishment of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan in 1947. The Truman Doctrine promised to help any country fighting the establishment of communism in their lands. The Marshall Plan was devised to aid any European country with their rebuilding effort. Stalin forbade any Eastern European country behind the "Iron Curtain" to take advantage of Marshall Plan aid.
Did you know …
- Novikov concluded that President Truman was not open to cooperation with the Soviet Union and was intolerant of individuals within his closest government circles not totally supportive of his anti-Soviet perspective. This proved correct when Truman fired Secretary of Commerce Henry A. Wallace (1888–1965) on September 20, 1946, because he opposed the get-tough policy.
- Many documents such as the "Novikov Telegram" began to be released from Soviet document archives only after the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. Until then, there were virtually no documents that looked at the Cold War from the Soviet point of view.
Consider the following …
- According to Novikov, how could the U.S. economy benefit from postwar economic devastation in Europe? Has this same pattern occurred in more recent times, such as in the 1990s and early 2000s?
- List the reasons that led Novikov to his conclusion that the United States was aiming for world supremacy.
- What role in the Cold War did Novikov attribute to the "press organs"? What were the chief "press organs" in the mid-1940s?
- Go to the Cold War International History Project at http://wwics.si.edu to learn more about the latest Soviet documents released and translated into English for Americans to study.
For More Information
Antonov-Ovseyenko, Anton. The Time of Stalin: Portrait of a Tyranny. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1980.
Crockatt, Richard. The Fifty Years War: The United States and the Soviet Union in World Politics, 1941–1991. London: Routledge, 1995.
Lewis, Jonathan, and Phillip Whitehead. Stalin: A Time for Judgement. New York: Pantheon Books, 1990.
Paterson, Thomas G. On Every Front: The Making of the Cold War. New York: Norton, 1979.
Ulam, Adam B. Stalin: The Man and His Era. New York: The Viking Press, 1973.
Cold War International History Project. http://wwics.si.edu/index.cfm?fuseaction=topics.home&topic_id=1409 (accessed on September 22, 2003).