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How the USSR tried to run the world

44 minutes
How the USSR tried to run the world

This week, Meduza spoke to Dr. Sergey Radchenko about his next book, To Run the World: The Kremlin’s Cold War Bid for Global Power (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in 2024), which explores the era’s diplomatic history, focusing on how narratives of legitimacy offer crucial insights for interpreting Moscow’s motivations and foreign policy.

The conversation covers telling anecdotes about prominent world leaders like Richard Nixon, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev, their psychology, and how individual quirks shaped world events. Dr. Radchenko explains how resentment and the need for legitimacy and recognition drove Soviet decision-making in ways that past literature about communist ideology and imperialism fails to capture.

Timestamps for this episode:

  • 06:22 The Role of recognition and legitimacy in Soviet foreign policy
  • 08:56 Raskolnikov on the global stage
  • 12:24 The strange pursuit of greatness and global leadership
  • 14:52 Soviet ambitions and Soviet means
  • 17:02 Moscow's persistent resentment
  • 21:34 The Berlin Crisis
  • 28:30 The paradox of the USSR as a great power
  • 31:08 China's role in Soviet self-perceptions
  • 34:13 Autocrats and peace promotion

New episodes of The Naked Pravda are released at the end of every week. Catch each show by subscribing through Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or one of these other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the podcast, please write to Kevin Rothrock at [email protected] with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

Sound editing by Kevin Rothrock. A.I. voice-dubbing of the Kavkazskaya Plennitsa scene by Eleven Labs.

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