You are on page 1of 3

Adam Smith


17.40 Response Paper II: “Rollback: A Historical Perspective”

Here I will present arguments in favor of the meaningful option of rollback during

the early Cold War era, from the perspective of that time period. More specifically, I will

show that rollback is the only plausible option for US action to ensure America’s short

and long-term national security. In supporting rollback, there are a handful of key

arguments that illustrate the immediate need for decisive military action. They are

outlined below.

First I must observe that the USSR is a very aggressive state and that appeasement

will undoubtedly fail. It is trivial to show that the current USSR leadership is aggressive.

The ideology which extols their leadership above that of any other nation and encourages

conquest, coupled with historical examples to support this, is the most important thing to

consider. Stalin’s organization of the USSR and annexation of Ukraine, Byelorussia, and

others provided an initial thrust of aggressive character; one that has only grown since

then. One need not look far to illustrate this point; consider World War I in which the

Russians had the largest standing army (over five million soldiers [1]), or the recent

World War II in which the USSR has occupied much of Western Europe.

Secondly, I show that the USSR’s plans for conquest of Eastern Europe can be

predicted by the aggressive character illustrated above. Any hostile nation will take

action to expand its powers. This is a maxim of human behavior, and thus organizational

(i.e. national) behavior, that I will assume. Furthermore, a greedy approach to the nature

of this conquest can be assumed. That is, any given entity will overthrow and assimilate

the easiest and most lucrative target first, empowering it to capture even larger powers.
Now I observe that the USSR now holds neighboring territory to Eastern Europe and

does so with military forces that can be exerted for the purposes of expansion.

Furthermore, Eastern Europe holds large industrial might that makes it attractive to any

potential hegemony. These two factors (ease and reward) make Eastern Europe the

obvious target.

There is an assumption in the paragraph above that I should validate, and that is

that capturing a state will make the capturer more powerful. Although I do not claim that

this increase in power is not completely elastic (i.e. the aggressor gains 100% of the

victim country’s resources), I argue that there is some increase in power, since the

assailant gains factories, natural resources, and more strategically positioning from which

it can launch further attacks.

Since the USSR is indeed hostile, since it has Eastern Europe in its crosshair, and

since it has everything to gain from conquest, we must act to prevent this from

happening. How shall we act? Once we assume that ideology and/or leadership change

is impossible to realize, the only possible strategy is to remove the means with which this

assailant can attack. That is, at least the removal of USSR forces from Eastern Europe by


If the United States folds on this illustrated need, it will implicitly appease USSR

conquest of Western Europe and encourage the over-throw of Eastern Europe thus far

described. After this I predict a slippery slope effect in which the USSR becomes more

powerful with each square kilometer taken, and in which the US becomes progressively

less capable to defend itself from an all-out invasion. The United States must strike now,

while the iron is hot and the window of opportunity is still open.

[1] “WWI – Russia,” Glossary of Events,