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 OUTLINE 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 domination. 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 control.6 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 counterproductive.8 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 essential. 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 them. 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 good. 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. FOOTNOTES 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. 117. 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, 1987). 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. BIBLIOGRAPHY Brzezinski, Zbigniew. "The U.S.-Soviet Relationship: Paradoxes and Prospects." Strategic Review, Spring 1987, 11-18. Copson, Raymond, and Richard P. Cronin. "The Reagan Doctrine and its Prospects." The Officer. The Defense Monitor. Vol XV, No 5, 1986. "Discriminate Deterrence". 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Shcherbakov, Sergei. "The USSR in the Present-Day World." The 27th CPSU Congress Course, 7-9. Soviet Military Power 1987. U.S. Government Printing Office. Suchlicki, Jaime. "Soviet Policy in Latin America: Some Implications for the United States." Journal of International Studies and World Affairs, 29 (Spring 1987). Thatcher, Margaret. "Judge the Soviets by Actins, Not Words." ROA National Security Report. 5 (December 1987) 1. "Third World Conflicts and U.S. Interests." Marine Corps Gazette, March 1988, 38-39. Tritten, James. "Ideology: the Bear's Carrot." Proceedings, July 1986, 38-44. Vetrov, M.V. "Problems of War and Peace and the World Revolutionary Process." Selected Readings From Military Thought 1963-1973, Studies in Communist Affairs, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1982. Yefimov, A. "The Commander's Responsibility for Combat Readiness." Soviet Press Selected Translations, Current News Special Edition, December 30, 1987, No 1674, 188- 193.
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