Economic Cooperation During the 1920s and early 1930s, tensions between the Soviet Union a

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Economic Cooperation During the 1920s and early 1930s, tensions between the Soviet Union and the West eased somewhat, particularly in the area of economic cooperation. Following their consolidation of political power, the Bolsheviks faced the same economic challenge as had the government ministers of the tsarist regime: how to efficiently organize the vast natural and human resources of the Soviet Union. The economic situation was made even more difficult by the immense social and economic dislocation caused by World War I, the revolutions of 1917, and the Civil War of 1918-21. As factories stood idle and famine raged in the countryside, Vladimir Lenin instituted the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1921 to infuse energy and direction into the fledgling Communist- controlled economy. NEP retreated from Communist orthodoxy and opened up the Soviet monolith economically. For a variety of reasons -- compassion for the sufferings of the Soviet peoples, sympathy for the great "socialist experiment," but primarily for the pursuit of profit -- Western businessmen and diplomats began opening contacts with the Soviet Union. Among these persons were Averell Harriman, Armand Hammer, and Henry Ford, who sold tractors to the Soviet Union. Such endeavors facilitated commercial ties between the Soviet Union and the United States, establishing the basis for further cooperation, dialogue, and diplomatic relations between the two countries. This era of cooperation was never solidly established, however, and it diminished as Joseph Stalin attempted to eradicate vestiges of capitalism and to make the Soviet Union economically self-sufficient.


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