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In international politics, declarations of aggressive intent are rare. They are typically masked and are sure to blame the other side for hostility. Crystalline expressions of enmity are uncommon for communist governments, but Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s speech this month at the Chinese Community Party’s centenary actually appeared to be a “war cry,” akin to the declarations of conflict made by Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
In Moscow, in early February 1946, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin delivered the first volley of the Cold War in a bold address. He made three major points: Marxism-Leninism is a fundamentally superior ideology and economic system to democratic capitalism; World War II was a test of political systems and one that provided the viability of the Soviet system; and that war was inevitable as long as monopolistic capitalism existed. Capitalism had caused both world wars and it certainly would cause a third world war, he warned. Accordingly, the Soviet people had to prepare themselves for war, devote themselves to achieving the goals of new Five-Year Plans.
Following Stalin’s speech, Washington’s request for an understanding of Soviet motives and global ambitions prompted George Kennan’s famous “Long Telegram,” and informed Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain Speech” at Fulton, Mo., on March 5, 1946.