I was thinking the other day about Russia. They certainly had every reason to be paranoid during the Cold War, did they not? They were invaded numerous times during the 20th century by Western powers and proxies.
They were attacked and defeated by Germany in World War One.
Then, after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the US, UK, France, Canada and Australia invaded the northern Russian port cities of Archangel and Murmansk which is near Finland and Karelia, toward the arctic circle. This invasion started in 1918 and would last until 1920. It would involve roughly 13,000 Allied soldiers, including 5,000 Americans. The purpose was to assist pro-Czarist White Russian forces in their fight against Bolshevik-Communist armies during the Russian Civil War.
In 1918-1920, Allied powers, including Japan, invaded Siberia to assist the Czarist White Russians during their Civil War against the Bolshevik Soviet Union. Here, Italian, Japanese, American, Canadian and British soldiers invaded Siberia and seized Vladivostok from the Soviets.
The forces involved here were even larger than the ones involved in the abovementioned European expedition. Over 90,000 troops participated here, 70,000 of which were Japanese. Aside from taking the port city of Vladivostok, and preventing its arms from falling into the hands of the Germans (who the Bolsheviks had signed a treaty with), the allies wanted to aid the Czarist forces (for an eventual retaking of the throne) as well as help the Czech legion fight its way out of Russia and find its way back to the Western Front in Europe. That said, there was really no likelihood of said arms falling into German hands. Vladivostok was thousands of miles away from Germany, Germany could get more guns from alternative, more nearby sources and there was a high probability that the guns would be intercepted long before they would arrive in Berlin. A more likely scenario was that the Allies wanted to prevent the weapons from falling into Bolshevik hands and they were using the "German menace" as an additional pretext for intervening.
The Czech legion was a group of about 50,000 Austro-Czech troops that were training in Czarist Russia during the war, for use against the Germans and Austrians. When the Bolshevik Revolution took place, they couldn't fight their way West, toward Europe, so they fought their way East, toward Vladivostok, where Bolshevik forces were weaker, and where, hopefully, they could catch a boat-ride back to Europe. Their fight out of European Russia, and fighting march/transit to Vladivostok along the Trans-Siberian Railroad rivals that of Xenophon in the Anabasis, in terms of the thousands of miles of non-stop marching and fighting they continuously engaged in through enemy territory.
The invasion was a nominal success for the Allies, as they prevented many arms from getting into German hands and they rescued the Czechs, but the Japanese wouldn't leave Soviet Vladivostok until 1922.
This made an impression on the Russians.
In 1919, the newly formed nation of Poland invaded Russia and Ukraine (which was trying to declare independence from Russia). This war would last until 1921. The combined Polish-Ukranian forces would eventually number over 700,000 forces in the field, and the Soviet forces, which would eventually repel the invaders, would eventually number 800,000. At the height of the Polish invasion, Poland would seize and occupy both Kiev and Minsk, until the Soviets were able to repel them. Casualties were immense. Over 200,000 people died in this war and the Soviets never forgot the fact that the Polish were openly encouraged by the British and the French, who wanted to use Poland as a pro-Western proxy against Soviet Communism (as well as the possibility of a resurgent Germany).
Last but not least , was the 1941 Axis invasion of the Soviet Union. Russia never forgot that the Nazis and Fascists had major Western corporate sympathy and support in the 1930s, especially during the Spanish Civil War. The Soviets knew that major Western businesses were hoping for an Axis victory, as this would spell the end of the Soviet Economic Experiment and the Comunist International (or Comintern).
All these things played a part, no doubt, in fostering and contributing to Soviet paranoia and mistrust of America during the early years of the Cold War. Indeed, from 1917-1945, the United States and Britain seem to have intervened in far more countries, indeed, they seem to have invaded far more countries, than the Soviets did.
This is not to say that the Soviets were innocent cuddle-bunnies in some kindergarten petting zoo. They were not. But neither were the Western Allies.This is the essential point I wish to make.
Indeed, Russia had engaged in a series of foreign policy aggressions as well during this time.
There was the Winter War from 1939-1940, in which Russia went to war with Finland, a nation that had belonged to Imperial Russia but had declared its independence, with German funding and military training, during the chaos of World War One and the Russian Civil War. The Soviets unsuccessfully tried to retake the nation during this war, an act that pushed Finland into a quasi-alliance with Nazi Germany, a nation they had close cultural, but not political, sympathies with.
In 1921, the Soviets established a quasi-satelite government in Mongolia, after its Communist Party (which was also comprised of fierce nationalists) sought an alliance with Moscow as a means of securing independence from growing Chinese Nationalist and White Russian (Czarist Orthodox Christian) incursions on Mongolian territory.
And we also can't forget the unbridled brutality of the Soviet government toward its own people, the famines, genocides, complete lack of civil rights, mass murder, the homocidal insantiy of Joseph Stalin and the establishment of a totalitarian police state under his rule. That said, many historians are quick to point out that true, murderous totalitarian conditions only existed in the Soviet Union under the Stalin regime, and that the nation drifted toward a form of "mere authoritarianism" during the Kruschev and Brezhnev years. Not that this is any condolence for people whose human rights were abused or infringed upon during this epoch, but I think that one must intellectually distinguish between the regime of Stalin and those that followed. To equate Brezhnev with Stalin undermines the historical uniqueness and evil that Stalin represented.
Human rights aside, from a purely foreign policy perspective, Soviet Russian paranoia about Western intentions was not unwarranted, based on prior Western actions. Furthermore, the total lack of freedoms in the Soviet Union most probably created an unhealthy degree of self-referential decision making, or "group-think" that served to reinforce these deeply held cultural and historical beliefs. No doubt, ancient Russian history also served to reinforce these beliefs, where the ancient Russian kingdoms of Rus and Novgorod were invaded by Mongols, Teutonic Knights, Viking river raiders, and various steppe nomadic tribes.
As such, undoing these beliefs, albeit from a position of strength, must have been a chief way American diplomats and negotiators were able to win a lasting peace with the Russians.