Depends on the Meaning of the Word 'Soviet'


During Arnold Schwarzenegger's inaugural speech, my Slav-dar went off at this passage (italics mine):

Perhaps some think this is fanciful or poetic, but to an immigrant like me, who, as a boy, saw Soviet tanks rolling through the streets of Austria, to someone like me who came here with absolutely nothing and gained absolutely everything, it is not fanciful to see this state as a golden dream.

Today, L.A. Times columnist Patt Morrison published a sampling of opinion from historians specializing in post-war Austria (where Arnold's home town was smack dab in the middle of the British zone of occupation). Their conclusion? Not so likely. (Link via L.A. Observed)


NEXT: NPR... for me to poop on!

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  1. it is suspect because he is a republican

  2. Somebody in Muscatine, IA, could have seen Soviet tanks in Austria, via newspaper, or even TV. Do only eyewitnesses have standing to comment on events? If so, those not in the room when Arnold spoke can keep quiet.

    Oh, wait, those tanks were there to secure the freedom of the Austrians against the terrors of capitalism. I forgot.

  3. The word “see” has different meanings, and I think the governor was speaking figuratively. I could say that I’ve seen the Redskins beaten by the Cowboys too many times, never having been to a game, and people would understand that I wasn’t lying per se.

    On the other hand, saying that every time I see Pat Morrison on the PBS station here in LA, she’s advocating a larger role for government, and she’s wearing a stupid looking hat; well, that’s not speaking figuratively at all.

  4. Yeah, Mark, everyone here who questions a Republican is rooting for Marxist Lenninism. That’s why we’re at a libertarian website. Good call!

    By the way, they’re under your bed, too. That’s where they keep the flouride.

  5. joe:

    Lol! At least they were kept busy with the Shermans …

  6. P.S. English is highly idiomatic, and taking a non-native English speaker to task for not understanding every possible nuance of every idiom is a little unfair, regardless of what the governor really meant. Don’t you think?

  7. Don’t you think?

    Therein lay the rub.

  8. Sure Schultz. Or possibly, like many an average politician, Arnold likes to do boombastik speeches and make pretend that he’s JFK of the PT boat.

  9. Puhleeze. There is no disputing that Soviet tanks were in Austria when Arnold was a boy. Whether he saw them in person, or via photo or newsreel, is a largely irrelevant point. Is this trivial quibble the LA Times’s idea of fact checking the new governor’s ass? There are a hundred real issues facing California, and significant doubt about whether Arnold and his team has real answers to these problems. I know Patt the Hatt is a hack, but is it too much to ask that they put more effort into substantive review of his words and his plan, rather than argue this point?

  10. The Fiendish Flouridaters must have pushed my daddy nightmares out of the way. I’ll tell my therapist. 🙂

    joe: I’ve been wondering, is there another forum somewhere, like H&R, for people closer to your outlook? I want to try being the “joe” for a while.

  11. He saw tanks the same way Clinton saw burning churches.

  12. Clinton didn’t lie about black church burnings.

    After Clinton’s radio address when he spoke about black church burnings during his youth, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ran a story quoting two people (the state historian and the president of the Arkansas NAACP) who didn’t remember any black church burnings. This story has been widely circulated.

    However, two days later, the same paper did its own investigation and found at least four black church burnings in Arkansas during his youth, including one in Clinton’s home town when he was a teenager.

    You can read all about it, including the second Arkansas Democrat-Gazette story, right here:

    (Sorry, I’m just sick of hearing that one.)

  13. Gee another far-right Repuke LIES about creepy commies everywhere. Big surprise. These guys never give up — lie about commie “threats” while shilling for corporate rule.

  14. Arnold is far right?

    In many states he would be considered a mainstream Democrat.

  15. Joe at 1:19,

    See post from Gee Whiz at 2:36, and begin eating your hat 🙂

  16. Gee Whiz, how soon we forget the cold war. There were communists everywhere, trying to destroy the world’s freedom, and it took a lot to stop them.

  17. It’s kinda silly to say that Arnold is a liar based on that statement. I can say that I never thought I’d live to see the fall of the Berlin Wall, and most people would accept that doesn’t mean I saw it literally.

    That sort of phrase is used all the time, “2003 saw the US invade Iraq”. On a literal level, that’s impossible, but it still makes sense.

  18. These were the sort of statements that got Gore into trouble. 🙂

  19. BTW, those Soviet tanks were part of an officially recognized soviet advance; it was somewhat more legitimate than Hungrary 1956 in other words.

  20. Anon @ 1:44 probably has it figured out. There were Soviet tanks in Austria until 1955, and young Mr Schwarzenegger probably saw more than one newsreel at the local cinema that showed Soviet tanks in Vienna as a current news item.

    Thanks to TV, millions of Americans saw the Chinese tanks in Tienanmen Square. We weren’t there, but we saw them. So Arnold did not have to see the Russkis up close to know they were in his country.

  21. I’m with the “this is a non-issue” crowd. He was in Austria, Soviet tanks were in Austria… whether he literally saw them in person or not is irrelevant. This sort of thing comes out of the minds of pedantic morons grasping for straws.

  22. just go down the street from belevedere to the ringstr. and you can see the monument to the soviets. it’s still there. then take the U6 to philadelphiabr?cke and you can see the monument to the reds killed in the 1934 “revolution” there. or read “derstandard” and you can see that there’s still a huge red flavor in austria. whatever. the fact that the sovs were there causes consternation among many “right wing” austrians (right eric, if you’re on line)

    now had he invented the tanks, right Jean bart, *grin*…


  23. david f,

    Well, the Soviets – Russians, Ukrainians, etc. – carried most of the weight in defeating the Nazis (yeah, there record otherwise is decidedly worse in most other areas). So a monument or two or three is appropriate.

  24. T-34s and Shermans in the same army. That must have been fun for the mechanics.

  25. Khrushchev rolled through Vienna in a big black limo in the summer of 1960, I can tell you that.

  26. Mightn’t he have seen them rolling through some part of Austria other than his hometown? “It would have been possible to see Soviet tanks, the scholars agreed, if the Schwarzeneggers had gone into the Soviet-occupied zone up in northern Austria, or around Vienna.” Why is this suspect?

  27. Anon,

    If you interpret my post as saying the Soviets were “swell guys,” you need some remedial reading work.

    There is overwhelming documentary evidence that the central structural features of the postwar system of world order (with the U.S. as “hegemonic power,” in Sam Huntington’s words) was designed with very little notice or regard to the USSR. Planning for a postwar global system based on the UN Security Council (with U.S. armed forces as enforcer) and the Bretton Woods institutions to subsidize the export of goods and capital, started in 1941 before the U.S. was even attacked. NSC-68 referred to them collectively as “a policy which we would probably pursue even if there were no Soviet threat.”

    Christopher Layne and Benjamin Shwartz. “American Hegemony Without an Enemy,” Foreign Policy 92 (Fall 1993).

    Laurence H. Shoup and William Minter. “Shaping a New World Order: The Council on Foreign Relations’ Blueprint for World Hegemony, 1939-1945” in Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management (Boston: South End Press, 1980) pp. 135-156.

    The latter article devotes nearly as much space to footnoted archival documents as it does to its own text.

  28. wow, that many footnotes? it must REALLY be true. cause look at noam chomsky’s work. tonns of footnotes, which makes it extra true.

    why even your post has footnotes! guess everyone can just shut up and accept the Soviets were a made-up threats by the evil NWO.*

    Carson, Kevin. “Why The NWO Runs The World or The Soviets Were A Made Up Threat To Sell The World Evil Widgets And Export Our Lifestyle,” Reason comment boards (Fall 2003).

  29. Anon,

    No, but people might look at the evidence for themselves, instead of believing EITHER your or my blanket assertions. At least I provided some resources for those wanting to pursue the issue further. Unless you have some tinfoil hat fantasy that all those State, Treasury and White House documents were just made up by Shoup and Minter.

    Documentation is not a sufficient condition for believing something. But the lack of it, like the unwillingness to sign one’s own name to his opinions, is a pretty strong caveat AGAINST believing without independent verification.

  30. drf,

    I just know a lot more Russians died for my freedom than Americans, Frenchmen, or Britons combined; even if their government was run by tyrannical swine.

  31. Matt Welch,

    WTF is a “slav-dar?”

  32. “T-34s and Shermans in the same army. That must have been fun for the mechanics.”

    The Red Army used quite a few Shermans during WW2 — alongside T-34s (well, sorta–they were typically deployed in seperate units). In fact, the commie bastards seemed to like the reliable Sherman. They used them right up to the end of the war (and who knows how long after). In fact, Red Army Shermans went into Austria (and Germany) in 1945.

  33. hey Jean Bart!

    gotcha. we’ll quibble over the soviets as liberators later (i don’t see their efforts as fighting for our freedom, but then again i don’t see the us fighting for others’ freedom much either, these days, n’est-ce pas…….! but how true — it’s amazing how many died. and it’s amazing to hear how resiliant the citizens of petrograd/leningrad were. man oh man. and such a beautiful city, too!

    fucking nazis. we HATE those guys. they’re worse than snakes, even!

    hey — got a question for you – what do you know about kruschev and his secret correspondence with jfk et al during the cuban missle crisis?

    merci bien!


  34. drf,

    Well, in defeating the Nazis, they were strangely doing more for freedom in France than their own country. I think the most appalling action by the Soviet government during the war (and there were a lot – everything from killing off the indigenous Marxists in Poland to the Katyn massacre to the literal rape of Hungary) were the mass executions and deportions into slave labor in the gulags of “liberated” Soviet POWs. Accused of being traitors and spies for being captured, the Soviets dealt with them harshly. And they were no small number of people.

    I know very little about the Cuban missile crisis.

  35. hi Jean Bart,

    um, okay. the monument is soviet built parts to commerate their dead, parts to remind the austrians “what THEY DID” – like a lot of the stuff in berlin. but why are you 1) explaining something that was never questioned or mentioned and 2) suggesting that somehow i would find that to be inappropriate?


  36. Any of you ever seen the film The Third Man? Remember what it was about? Where it was set? How Harry Lime got around? Where Harry Lime was staying while he was lying low from the British?

    No? Well, get out the DVD and have a look again. And then come back here and explain how there were no Soviet tanks in the streets of Austria in the 1940s and 1950s.

  37. Anon,

    The Cold War I’m familiar with is one in which the U.S. government propped up or installed military dictators, landlord oligarchies, and death squad regimes (and even left-wing nationalists, when they were willing to play ball) in the name of fighting International Communism. The sine qua non of being a communist threat, in those days, was threatening to nationalize the holdings of ITT or United Fruit Company. And oddly enough, the pattern of gunboat diplomacy during the Cold War was quite similar to that of the Thirties, and to that of the Nineties after the fall of the Soviet Empire. Only the name of the enemy was changed. The murder of hundreds of thousands of people by Suharto’s armed forces, or by Central American death squads, may have been “anti-communist”–but it certainly wasn’t in defense of “freedom.”

    Outside the adjoining areas directly conquered by its armed forces, the Soviet Union never had the power to impose communism on a country against the will of its own government.

    Communists in the Third World, while indeed statist thugs, were pursuing their own independent goals. Russia’s worst enemy in the ’60s was Mao, for crying out loud! To the extent that Third World leninist regimes pursued close ties to Moscow, it was only in the context of a bipolar world where one power wanted to overthrow their governments, and the other was willing to send them arms and advisors. Their embrace of Moscow was entirely opporunistic, and at their own discretion.

    Had Ho’s Indochina regime been left in control after WWII, for example, it would likely have evolved into some independent brand of national communism and kept right on selling tin and rubber to the U.S. Under any government, communist or otherwise, countries with economies centered on extractive industries would have had to sell their output to somebody, and we were the biggest customer on the block.

    There was a time when the whole European state system from Britain to Poland was nominally Roman Catholic; THOSE governments sure got along great with each other, didn’t they?

  38. hey Martin!

    good call about the third man. check out “the third man tours” in vienna, too. they’re fun.

    arnold wasn’t from vienna, so the question whether HE actually saw the tanks is a nitpick thrown out there by anti arnold types. Jean Bart summed it up nicely with his “Al Gore” comment. it’s just the usual bullshit journalist trying to nitpick. and he ended up fishhooking his own ass.

    “night train to berlin” is also cool. and check out the alec guiness comedies from the late 40s, early 50s (e.g., “lavender hill mob”) seeing the bomb damage still present is amazing!


  39. KC: keep that anti-anti-communism alive comarade! we all know that the soviets were really swell guys and the US government is the true fascist one.

  40. “Pretty much everyone in Austria knows that Arnold’s province of Styria was occupied by the British. The chances of seeing a Russian tank as a boy in his home town would have been less than zero.”

    Which would be relevant if that’s where he said he saw them. From the speech:

    “When I was a boy, the Soviets occupied part of Austria. I saw their tanks in the streets. I saw communism with my own eyes. I remember the fear we had when we had to cross into the Soviet sector.”

    He specifically references crossing into the soviet sector, meaning somewhere in Austria besides where he lived.

    To wit:

    “It would have been possible to see Soviet tanks, the scholars agreed, if the Schwarzeneggers had gone into the Soviet-occupied zone up in northern Austria, or around Vienna.”

    Considering that’s exactly what he implied in his speech, I haven’t a clue how anyone thinks they’ve caught him in a “lie.”

  41. EMAIL:
    DATE: 02/28/2004 12:50:53
    People who do not think far enough ahead inevitably have worries near at hand.

  42. it does not matter if you are a republican or democrat we all must work together

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