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Perestroika:  Fighting The War On A New Front
AUTHOR Major William L. Bair, USMC
CSC 1988
SUBJECT AREA Foreign Policy
                 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
    TITLE: Perestroika: Fighting the War on a New Front
I.    Purpose:  To provide an objective evaluation of
current Soviet actions in order to gain an understanding of
the future course of the Soviet Union and its ultimate goal.
II.   Thesis:  Despite glasnost  improved international
relations, and emphasis on internal economic restructuring
within the Soviet Union, world domination still remains the
primary goal of the Soviets.
III.  Data:  A new course for the Soviet Union has
apparently been charted under the leadership of General
Secretary Gorbachev.  He has implemented numerous
initiatives which appear to reduce the threat of Soviet
aggression.  The ability to analyze the current actions of
the Soviet Union and create a cohesive policy in dealing
with the Soviets may be essential to our national survival.
Two main factors need to be kept in mind when formulating
that policy.  The first major factor is Geopolitics - the
geographic location of the Soviet Union places it in a
position which requires it to expand its boundaries for the
security of the state.  The second major factor is Ideology
- the basic ideals of the state and its perception of the
world.  The main thrust of their ideology being that
communism cannot be established until capitalism is
eradicated.  The Soviets realize that this cannot come about
unless it has strengths in the following areas: (1) economic
power, (2) political power, (3) military power and (4)
support of the peoples of the world.  Realizing that their
strongest attribute is their military, and that the Soviet
economy has not produced the standard of living that the
Soviet people want, the current Soviet leadership is
attempting to establish a framework upon which to build
their economic power.  This is considered essential by the
leadership to build political power and earn the support of
the peoples of the world.
IV.   Summary:  The current actions of the Soviets are
designed to create an atmosphere wherein they can strengthen
their economic power.  Using that as a foundation they will
continue to encourage competition between socialism and
capitalism, attempt to limit U.S. influence in Eurasia, and
maintain the gains they have made in military power and
Third World expansionism during the past thirty-five years.
Failure of their economic restructuring may result in
military action by the Soviets to save face for socialism.
The final deduction is that the Soviets have not given up
their qrest for world domination.
   Perestroika: Fighting the War on a New Front
THESIS STATEMENT.   Despite glasnost, improved international
relations, and emphasis on internal economic restructuring
within the Soviet Union, world domination still remains the
primary goal of the Soviets.
I.   Factors which contribute to the Soviet desire to expand
     A. Geopolitics
     B. Ideology
II.  Requirements for spreading Socialism
     A. Economic Power
     B. Political Power
     C. Military Power - Soviet build-up for past thirty-
        five years
     D. Support of the Peoples of the World - Soviet
     role in the Third World
III. Perestroika
     A. What is it?
     B. Why is it necessary?
IV.  Soviets commitment to economic success
     A. Success Necessary for Gorbachev to remain in power
     B. Fired - Chairman of State Planning Commission
     C. Armed Forces commitment to Perestroika
V.   What does the future hold in store?
     A. Competition between Capitalism and Socialism
     B. Attempts to limit U.S. influence in Eurasia
     C. Maintain gains made in past thirty-five years
     D. Actions that may be taken if Perestroika fails
        Perestroika: Fighting the War on a New Front
     The relationship between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. for
the past seventy years has been fraught with uncertainty.
The future may hold more of the same for the next seventy
years.  The commitment of the Soviet leadership for the past
thirty-five years to a program of steady increase in
military  power  and expansionism in Third World countries has
contributed significantly to the precarious  relationship
which exists  between  the superpowers.  Responding to this
threat,  the main thrust of U.S.  foreign policy has  been to
contain the Soviets  and  reduce their  influence on developing
countries.   The commitment of  the Reagan administration for
the past  seven years  to defense spending combined with aid
programs to "freedom fighters"  and governments  fighting pro-
Marxist-Leninist regimes has significantly increased  the
ante economically for  the Soviets  in their quest  for world
     Since his  assumption of responsibilities  as  the General
Secretary  in March  1985,  Mikhail Gorbachev has  charted a  new
course  for  the Soviet Union.   In doing so,  his efforts  have
been applauded by world leaders  and  have seemingly 
contributed  to an easing of  tensions  between  the U.S.  and
the Soviet Union.   The openness of  intellectual thought
created by glasnost has activated untapped resources which
the politburo attempted to suppress for the past seventy
years.  The redirection of national assets to concentrate on
domestic problems under the title of "Perestroika" has
opened the door for mobilizing the initiative and creativity
of the Soviet people.  The initiatives for peace with the
signing of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF)
treaty, the proposed withdrawal of Soviet troops from
Afghanistan, and the proposal for further concessions in
nuclear weapons have provided the people of the world with a
new hope for world peace.  Despite glasnost, improved
international relationships, and emphasis on internal
economic restructuring, world domination is still the
primary goal of the Soviets.
     What factors contribute to the Soviet desire to expand
their influence?  What are the requirements for them to
spread socialism throughout the world?  Why are they
currently focusing their attention on the economy and
domestic issues?  Are these actions just a ploy or is there
some grand scheme behind their current direction?  How
committed are they to economic reform?  What does the future
hold in store for U.S.-Soviet relations?  These questions
need to be addressed if a cohesive U.S. policy is to be
formulated for the future.
     Geopolitics and ideology are the two main factors which
contribute to the Soviet Union's desire to expand its
influence.   When these two factors are considered together
they provide a strong argument to justify the Soviet drive
for world domination.
     In 1904, the British geographer H. J. Mackinder
identified the inner core area of Eurasia as the "pivot
area  of world politics.   He foresaw the rise to power of
one country that occupied that area as a dominant political
force which would foment global hegemony.  The three
possible countries which were geographically situated to
generate this hegemony were: Germany, Russia, and China.
Mackinder originally thought that Germany would be the
country which would generate that hegemony.   The world
events between 1914 and 1945 would have certainly proved him
correct if Germany had won either of the world wars.  With
the defeat of Germany in 1945, Mackinder reevaluated the
world situation and predicted that the Soviet Union would be
the country that generated world hegemony.   His prediction
was correct as eight years later, with the death of Stalin,
Nikita Khrushchev embarked on his Third World quest.1  Today
the influence of the Soviet Union is being felt throughout
the globe.  Areas which should be of specific concern to
U.S. policy makers are the Persian Gulf, the Pacific, the
Caribbean and Central America.  Soviet influence in these
areas poses a threat to U.S. security.
     Ideology is always a driving force for any group or
nation because it summarizes its highest values and ideals.
The impact of Marxist-Leninist ideology on the Soviet
leadership is significant.  It provides a justification for
every action they take.  In the article "Ideology: The
Bear's Carrot," Commander James Tritten points out several
ideals taught by Soviet ideology which are the foundation of
their policy.  The most  significant  points  are as follows:
(1) the world is moving in favor of the forces of socialism
and in time capitalism will be eliminated, (2) capitalism is
all that obstructs the attainment of the workers' paradise,
(3) only after the world has been transformed from
capitalism to socialism can the Soviet Union advance to the
higher  stage  of communism, and (4) peace cannot exist until
capitalism has been eliminated and communism has triumphed.2
     It is agreed that Mr. Gorbachev appears to be the least
ideologically inclined of all  those who have exercised power
since the revolution.  The trend appears to be toward a
declining influence of the ideology on the leadership.
Despite this appearance, it must be remembered that ideology
legitimizes the power of those who rule.  As such, major
deviations  from  the highest values  and  ideals  of Marx and
Lenin would be anathema.
     With an understanding of geopolitics and ideology as
the foundation of the quest for world domination by the
Soviets, we need to look at the requirements necessary for
the spreading of socialism and the eventual establishment of
communism.  In his article "Problems of War and Peace and
the World Revolutionary Process," Col M. V. Vetrov looks at
the alternative to war, that of peaceful coexistence and the
competition between systems, he says:
          In the struggle for achieving these goals [that of
     defeating capitalism] the Soviet Union and other
     socialist countries rely on their own steadily growing
     economic, political, and military power as well as on
     the support of the peoples of the entire world.3
     Col Vetrov's insight into the requirements for fighting
the war with capitalism on a different front, that of
peaceful coexistence, may provide us with an understanding
of where the Soviet Union is headed in the future.  An
evaluation of all four areas on which the Soviets need to
rely to defeat capitalism provides us with a better
understanding of their current actions and policies.
     Economic Power:  When Mr. Gorbachev took office during
March 1985 the declining Soviet economy was the major issue
on his agenda.  He recognized that the Soviet Union's global
position had weakened and that it no longer provided the
world with a role model for socialism.  Gorbachev recognized
that a strong Soviet economy is an essential requirement for
the exportation of socialism.4  He realized that if the
Soviet Union cannot produce the standard of living that its
people want, and have worked for during the past seventy
years, then the credibility of the total system was at
question.  Mr Gorbachev is convinced that his social system
must prove its superiority not only by military means but by
economic means.  In doing so, the system must be able to
satisfy the needs of the people which it serves.5
     The emphasis which has been provided by the Soviet
Union in the past in dealing with developing countries has
been on the superiority of the socialist system when
compared to the capitalist system.  This emphasis may have
to be changed if the economic predictions for the future
come true.  "The Report of The Commission On Integrated
Long-Term Strategy," dated January 1988, stated that Japan's
economy is now the second largest in the world and is apt to
continue growing.  The commission further predicted that by
the year 2010 both Japan and China's Gross National Product
will exceed the Soviet Union's.
     Recognizing the importance of economic power  the
Soviets are starting to apply some of these principles in
dealing with Afghanistan.  As the Soviet Union has announced
plans for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan they
have entered into new economic and technical agreements with
the various towns, districts and provinces.  They are indeed
attempting to exercise a different form of influence.  The
direct control which they have attempted to impose with
military action is now giving way to an indirect economic
     Political Power:  Mr Gorbachev is the master of
propaganda, he has used the foreign news media to project
the image of the Soviet Union as a peace loving superpower
dedicated to world harmony and peace.  His efforts are
gradually having an influence on international public
opinion.   According to polls, the Europeans believe that the
Soviet Union is less a threat to world peace than the United
States and that the Soviets are more serious about arms
control.7  He is turning the table on the United States
politically, with the world community perceiving the U.S. as
the superpower bent on military superiority.   In this regard
his numerous arms control proposals have not been made in
good faith but rather to create a schism between the U.S.
and it's NATO allies.
      The courting of moderate arab countries in the Middle
East, especially in the Persian Gulf, is laying the ground
work for increased Soviet influence in that area.
Gorbachev's initiatives in this area have paid off with
increased communications with most of the nations in this
region. As such, he is using the argument that the Soviets
have the ability to talk with all parties of the Arab-
Israeli conflict and the Iraq-Iran war.  This, he claims,
places the Soviet Union in an ideal position to act as a
mediator in peace talks.  He emphasizes the fact that the
United States is not on speaking terms with all parties in
these conflicts and therefore could not act as effectively
in resolving the differences.  Subsequently, he has
convinced most Arab and Israeli moderates that exclusion of
the Soviet Union in the peace process would be
     Military Power:  The commitment of the Soviet
leadership during the past thirty-five years to enhance its
military power has been unmatched in the world.   The damage
inflicted on the Soviet homeland during World War II with
the lose of twenty million people was an event which would
never be permitted to occur again.   The emphasis on the
military build-up in the Soviet Union has been the major
contributing factor to the sluggish economy and lack of
productivity in the domestic sector.  Advanced technologies,
acquired legally or illegally, are rapidly applied to
military requirements.  The best factories and workers are
utilized in their military-industrial complex with the
seconds going to domestic economic production.
     The myth of a Soviet-American military race is quickly
dispelled when one reviews the records of military build-up.
The Soviets have been committed to a continual, progressive
and ever increasing build-up while the U.S. has been on a
proverbial rollercoaster, which now appears to be on the
downhill run.9
     Support of the Peoples of the World:  Gaining the
support of the peoples of the world is something which can
only be accomplished if the Soviets increase their economic
and political power.  Understanding the Soviet role in the
Third World will help us to understand how they expect to
gain the support of the peoples of the world.  The
perception of the free world versus the Soviets' view of
their role in developing countries is widely divergent.  In
Margaret Thatcher's opinion the Third World countries need
food, not arms.  She believes they get the food from the
free world and arms from the Soviet Union. On the other
hand, the Soviets are advertising themselves as promoting
progressive socio-economic development and providing aid in
science and technology.  In espousing this philosophy, they
would have us believe that they seek no privileges,
concessions, or control over the countries to which they
provide support.10
     During the past thirty-five years the rise in national
consciousness by developing countries created a situation
which was favorable to Soviet influence.  The West was
perceived by the developing countries as the enemy.  This
thought was prevalent because of the U.S. having strong ties
to the countries that held them in subjection and exploited
their natural resources.11
     Soviet influence has been most successful among the
poorest countries of the world.  Subsequently, the economic
costs to the Soviets have been steadily increasing.
Although many analysts believe these countries have little
to offer the Soviet Union, there strategic importance
becomes evident as one reviews the world map and plots the
countries which receive a significant amount of military and
economic aid from the Soviets.  As Mr Gorbachev turns his
interests inward toward Soviet domestic problems the
addition of more client states to the current list does not
seem likely in the immediate future.  It is during this
hiatus that the U.S. has to be especially careful in its
foreign relations policy.  Winning the support of the
peoples of the world will still be the goal for the Soviets.
     In order for the Soviet Union to continue to gain the
support of the peoples of the world, especially the Third
World; and to continue to strengthen its military power; and
to continue to build its political power, it will require a
strong economic base.  Perestroika is the foundation upon
which Mr Gorbachev needs to build to achieve the ideological
goals of the Communist Party.  If the stagnation of the
Soviet economy is allowed to continue it could have
devastating effects on the Socialist system.  Mr Gorbachev
has frequently quoted Lenin saying that the Soviet Union
exerts its main influence on world development by its
economic policy.  This being the case, economic power is
     Perestroika is the restructuring of the Soviet economy
in an attempt to implement Lenin's idea of blending public
ownership with the personal interest of the workers.  This
personal interest of the Soviet worker is at the heart of
the problem.  Worker productivity in the Soviet Union is low
and alcoholism and corruption are perceived as the key
problems.12  The Soviet leadership fails to admit that
worker productivity and the social ills which are being
experienced may be a result of the economic drain created by
the commitment of the Party to military and Third World
expansionism.  The drain on the Soviet economy created by
these two events has required an enormous sacrifice by the
Soviet people with no visible benefit being discerned by
     Mr Gorbachev is totally committed to the success of
perestroika.  His continued political power is dependent
upon its success.  He has emerged as the leader of a group
of Soviet leaders that are disgruntled with the failure of
the system to provide for the needs of the Soviet people and
to provide an effective example for the developing countries
of the world.13  In his article "Reagan-Gorbachev III,"
William G. Hyland put it this way:
     [Gorbachev] still believes in the basic system but
recognizes that radical changes are in order, and that this
will involve paying a price in the near term to achieve
longer-term aims.14
     Understanding that economic success is essential to the
perpetuation of socialism and the eventual establishment of
communism, the commitment of the Soviet leadership to a
program of economic growth and power has to be their goal.
Gorbachev firmly believes that if the interests of the
workers are taken into consideration in conjunction with a
planned economy, socialism will ultimately achieve more than
capitalism, thus creating a requirement for restructuring
within the capitalist system.15
     Mr Gorbachev has not been hesitant to make changes in
key positions which affect the restructuring process.  On
February 6, 1988 he removed Nikolai Talyzin from the
responsibility as Chairman of the State Planning Commission.
Talyzin was viewed as slowing economic reforms which were
proposed by Gorbachev.  According to western analysts
Talyzin, who had been appointed in 1985 to reform the
commission known as Gosplan, quickly became an advocate for
the system which he was supposed to be changing.16
     The military hierarchy has also gotten on board with
their support for perestroika.  A number of Soviet general
of icers have written articles which call for the support of
the military in the restructuring process.  Many are
starting to realize that the military will ultimately
benefit from the expanded economic and industrial base. 17
     The future indeed may be fraught with uncertainty when
dealing with the Soviets, but adherence to ideological
principles by the Soviet leadership makes some events quite
predictable.  The competition between capitalism and
socialism will continue.  It is the desire of the Soviets to
have that competition occur within the framework of peaceful
coexistence for it is the only framework wherein they can
redirect national resources to accomplish the goal of
economic growth.  They believe that communism on a worldwide
scale can be achieved without world war.  This statement
needs to be viewed with concern considering that one of
Lenin's beliefs is that war is not a random happening  but
an inevitable stage of capitalism.18   We have a better
appreciation for the worldwide goal of the Soviets when this
belief is combined with Gorbachev's belief that global peace
will exist only when the capitalist system is finished for
     A second predictable action for the Soviets will be to
continue their propaganda to create a reduced U.S. presence
and influence in Eurasia.  Gorbachev continues to emphasize
the common bonds and heritage which the the Soviets have
with Europe.  He attempts to promote the idea that the
threat to European culture is not from the Soviets, but from
the United States.  His proposal of numerous arms reduction
options have not been aimed at contributing to world peace
but to force the U.S. into accepting agreements which would
be beneficial to the Soviet Union.  These proposals are
designed to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its NATO
allies.  Easing relations with the Chinese is also on the
agenda for Mr. Gorbachev.  This will become especially
important in the future considering the prospects for
economic growth for the Chinese.
     The third foreseeable action for the Soviet Union will
be the maintaining and strengthening of gains made during
the past thirty-five years.  They will continue their
attempts to strengthen the unity of the socialist system
worldwide by building their economic and military power.
The gains made in the Third World will not be abandoned. If
control cannot be obtained by military action, steps will be
taken to ensure that these countries remain economically
dependent on the Soviet Union.  This approach is already
occurring in Afghanistan as plans for a military withdrawal
are being considered.
     If perestroika fails, the final predictable action for
the Soviets is the use of its military power.  Attempts to
save their economic system may necessitate the seizure or
control of natural resources required by capitalist nations.
This action would most likely occur in the Persian Gulf
area.  "The Report of the Commission On Integrated Long-Term
Strategy" summarized this point very succinctly:
          The turbulence of the region, the importance of
     its oil to Western countries for the foreseeable
     future, the severe limitations of countervailing forces
     in the region - all these factors combine to make it
     plausible that Soviet leaders might seize an
     opportunity to intervene - for example, by taking
     advantage of an "invitation" to support a new
     revolutionary regime.  Success would confer a major
     economic and geostrategic advantage on the Soviet Union
     and deal a possibly decisive blow to the unity of the
     Western alliances.19
     The Soviet Union's geopolitical situation and ideology
are two major factors which contribute to its goal of world
domination.  The requirements for the Soviets to spread
socialism throughout the world revolve around four major
areas: economic power, political power, military power and
gaining the support of the peoples of the world.  It is
clear that the current leadership of the Soviet Union sees
strength in these four areas as key ingredients in their
formula for world domination.  Success in developing the
economic power of the Soviet Union is critical if they are
to obtain their ideological goal of eradicating capitalism.
The Soviet leadership is committed to the success of
perestroika.  As we enter a new period of detente with the
Soviets we cannot lose sight of their ultimate goal.  We
must remember that despite glasnost, improved international
relations, and emphasis on internal economic restructuring
within the Soviet Union, world domination still remains the
primary goal of the Soviets.
     1Francis P. Sempa, "Geopolitics and American Strategy:
A Reassessment," Stratigic Review, Spring 1987, 28-31.
     2Commander James Tritten, U.S. Navy, "Ideology: The
Bear's Carrot," Proceedings, July 1986, 40.
     3Col M.V. Vetrov, "Problems of War and Peace and the
World Revolutionary Process," Selected Readings From
Military Thought 1963 - 1973, Studies in Communist Affairs,
Vol 5, Part II (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1982), p.
     4William G. Hyland, "Reagan - Gorbachev III," Foreign
Affairs, Fall 1987, 8.
     5Col M.V. Vetrov, 112.
     6"Soviets, Afghans Signing Local Economic Pacts,"
Washington Post, February 7, 1988.
     7Col Alex Gerry, USAR, "Soviet Propaganda Must be
Countered," ROA National Security Report, Vol 5 No 9, p. 12-
16 (insert), The Officer, September 1987.
     8Mark N. Katz, "Soviet Policy in the Middle East,"
Current History, A World Affairs Journal, February 1988, 59.
     9The Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy,
Discriminate Deterrence, January 1988, p. 40.
    10Sergei Shcherbakov, "The USSR in the Present-Day
World." The 27th CPSU Congress Course, 9.
    11Robert S. Litwak and S. Neil MacFarlane, "Soviet
Activism in the Third World," Survival, Jan/Feb 1987, Vol
XXIX no 1, 21 - 39.
    12Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our
Country and the World (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers,
    13Zbignew Brzezinski, "The U.S. -Soviet Relationship:
Paradoxes and Prospects," Strategic Review, Spring 1987, 13.
    14W.G. Hyland, 10,
    15M. Gorbachev.
    16"Soviet Planning Chief Removed by Gorbachev,"
Washington Post, February 7, 1988.
    17A. Yefimov, "The Commander's Responsibility for Combat
Readiness," Soviet PRess Selected Translations, Current News
Special Edition, December 30, 1987, No 1674, 188.
    18Col M.V. Vetrov, 112.
    19Discriminate Deterrence, 23.
Brzezinski, Zbigniew. "The U.S.-Soviet Relationship:
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Copson, Raymond, and Richard P. Cronin. "The Reagan Doctrine
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The Defense Monitor. Vol XV, No 5, 1986.
"Discriminate Deterrence". Report of The Commission On
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Gerry, Alex. "Soviet Propaganda Must be Countered." ROA
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Gorbachev, Mikhail. Perestroika: New Thinking for Our
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Hyland, William. "Reagan-Gorbachev III." Foreign Affairs,
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Katz, Mark. "Soviet Policy in the Middle East. "Current
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Litwak, Robert, and S. Neil MacFarlane. "Soviet Activism in
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Ottaway, David. "Soviets, Afghans Signing Local Economic
     Pacts." Washington Post, February 7, 1988.
Redden, Jack. "Soviets Planning Chief Removed by Gorbachev."
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Selin, Ivan. "Why the Soviets Can't Compute." Washington
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Sempa, Francis. "Geopolitics and American Strategy: A
     Reassessment." Strategic Review, 27-37.
Shcherbakov, Sergei. "The USSR in the Present-Day World."
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"Third World Conflicts and U.S. Interests." Marine Corps
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