WITH ALL OF THE REVELATIONS THAT HAVE SURFACED from the former Soviet archives, it has become irrefutable that the Soviet regime initiated, as well as prolonged, the Cold War. This means that the so-called "revisionist" historians, who lectured their audiences for years about how the Americans were the bad guys in the Cold War, have been proven wrong. Works like Vladislav Zubok’s and Constantine Pleshakov’s, Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: from Stalin to Khrushchev, use many de-classified Soviet documents to confirm that the revisionists were wrong about almost everything. But once exceedingly vocal, the revisionists are now conspicuously silent. Being a leftist, you see, means never having to say you’re sorry.
Revisionists argued that American economic "aggression" triggered the Cold War. The little problem with this argument was that it simply didn’t have any evidence. Worse still, as Robert Maddox meticulously demonstrated in The New Left and the Origins of the Cold War, revisionist histories suffered from dishonest scholarship, including the invention of "evidence" and misrepresentation of documents.
Gabriel Kolko was one of the most prominent revisionists. He devoted his entire professional life to blaming the United States in the Cold War. In his works The Limits of Power and The Politics of War, he portrayed America's supposed efforts to penetrate Eastern Europe with capitalism as scandalous, while Stalin's ruthless occupation of that area was mentioned in passing and explained as the result of Soviet desires for "economic partnership" and "security."
Kolko argued that Washington committed a great felony in its failure to accommodate Stalin and give him the secret of the atomic bomb. In his perspective, this made the Soviet dictator paranoid and difficult to deal with. In Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy 1939-1956, David Holloway uses Soviet documents, as well as interviews with Russian scientists who constructed Soviet nuclear weaponry, to show that American post-war policies and monopoly of nuclear weapons had no effect on Stalin's conduct. In other words, Stalin's paranoia would not have been alleviated, nor would the arms race have been avoided, had the U.S. shared information about the atomic bomb with Stalin.
Kolko also argued that the Soviets treated Poland well during the Second World War. History tells us that the Soviet purges of Poles during WWII included the Katyn forest massacre in the Spring of 1940. Vladimir Abarinov’s definitive study, The Murderers of Katyn, demonstrates that the Soviet secret police executed approximately 14,500 Polish officers in that massacre and buried them in mass graves. When Polish investigators asked about these officers, the Soviets suggested that they had escaped to Manchuria. That version encountered several difficulties after German troops discovered the mass graves in 1943, whereupon Stalin blamed the massacre on Berlin. Despite hard evidence of Soviet guilt, Moscow steadfastly insisted upon its innocence for fifty years.
Kolko had a love affair with the Soviet version of Katyn. When he wasn’t arguing that the "criminological evidence" proved the "culpability of both sides," he blamed the Germans. In April 1990, Premier Mikhail Gorbachev publicly admitted Soviet responsibility for the Katyn executions.
Kolko also revealed his power of imagination regarding Korea. He embraced the official communist position on the Korean war and blamed the conflict on South Korea -- even though North Korea invaded it. Kolko writes that the "North Korean army moved across the 38th parallel about 4:00 a.m. on June 25," but explains that the invasion should not be seen as "a causal fact" of the Korean war. In Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao and the Korean War, Sergei Goncharov, John Lewis and Xue Litai use new documents to reveal that North Korea had planned and initiated the invasion with the objective of unifying the country through military force, and that this had the full support of Joseph Stalin. The documents confirm that Stalin sought to establish his position as leader of the international communist movement by his support of the invasion. He believed the United States would not interfere in Korea and was shocked by the American intervention.
One would expect historians to be interested in all of these revelations. But revisionist historians, like Gabriel Kolko, show no interest in the disclosures about topics to which they had devoted their entire professional careers. Why? Well, because they are too busy hiding in the dark, scurrying from the light -- and licking their wounds. They’re tired, you see, because it takes a lot of energy to forget that the last 50 years actually even happened.