The German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and the ensuing conflict witnessed the political rehabilitation of the former People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maksim Litvinov. After serving as ambassador to the United States from 1941 to 1943, Litvinov returned to the Soviet Union and played a key role in charting Moscow's wartime Grand Alliance strategy. He urged Soviet leaders to convene a joint Anglo-Soviet-American commission to discuss military-political questions, and he helped organize the October 1943 foreign ministers' conference in Moscow. As the war drew to a close, Litvinov argued for a postwar settlement dividing the world into security zones. His realist conception of foreign policy suggested a more moderate alternative to Josif Stalin's reliance on confrontation with the West. Although Litvinov faded again from public view after his retirement in 1946, his belief that the Grand Alliance could continue suggests that the rapid, postwar descent into the Cold War might have been averted had it not been for Stalin.