Soviet Perceptions of the United States.by Morton Schwartz

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  • Soviet Perceptions of the United States. by Morton SchwartzReview by: Frederick C. BarghoornSlavic Review, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Dec., 1979), pp. 685-687Published by:Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2496590 .Accessed: 16/06/2014 23:58

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  • Reviews 685

    influenced by the idea of linkage, provides evidence of haste and superficiality in ne- gotiations on the part of Nixon and Kissinger and asserts that "they lacked the tech- nical competence to comprehend the issues fully" (p. 569).

    The presentation of Vietnam policy is, of course, a central concern of the book. Szulc feels that the administration repeatedly misled the public about both the motives and the content of its policy, and that it eventually negotiated terms which made the military position of the Saigon government untenable. His criticisms of Vietnam policy are sharp, as are his criticisms of policies for other world areas. But they are well-documented and the book provides important insights into both the essentially ephemeral features of the Nixon administration and the ways in which its legacy in foreign policy remains influential today.

    HERBERT J. ELLISON University of Washington

    U.S. INTELLIGENCE AND THE SOVIET STRATEGIC THREAT. By Law- rence Freedman. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1977. xvi, 235 pp. Tables. Fig- ures. $22.50.

    Are the Russians coming? This remarkable book does not attempt to answer the ques- tion, but it helps us understand why honest, hard-working analysts give conflicting appraisals of Soviet strategic might. It is not just that the actual Soviet threat (capa- bility multiplied by intentions) may differ from its perception in the West, but that both real and perceived threats depend upon Western capabilities, vulnerabilities, in- tentions, and strategies.

    To be sure, intelligence community estimates may be affected by bureaucratic infighting and partisan pressures, but intelligence predictions can deviate from actual Soviet deployments for many other reasons: the Russians may change their minds, Kremlin rationality may not conform to Washington rationality, or older weapons may be retained rather than retired, thereby inflating inventories. Indeed, U.S. fore- casts underestimated actual numbers of Soviet long-range missiles from 1963 through 1972. The miscalculation occurred in part because of the Kremlin's strong reaction to its 1962 Cuban debacle and to the impunity with which American forces attacked Vietnam in the mid-1960s, factors which led Moscow to accelerate missile deployment while keeping older missiles in service longer than Washington had expected.

    The next time the Pentagon seems to cry "Wolf !" ("Bear," "Bison," or "Back- fire"), this book should be consulted in order to recall past charges about whether a sheep or monster is standing in the wings. Aside from the analytical and historical merits of the book, it is written with a grace and clarity that should help even the Luddites among us to grasp the differences between an SS-11 and an SS-9, an MRV and a MIRV.

    Lawrence Freedman wrote most of this book in London. Let us hope that Soviet writers on the United States will some day match his gift for empathy at a distance. And let us await even more fervently the day when Western (or Eastern) writers can accomplish a similar feat in understanding Soviet perceptions of the U.S. strategic posture.

    WALTER C. CLEMENS, JR. Boston University

    SOVIET PERCEPTIONS OF THE UNITED STATES. By Morton Schwartz. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978. viii, 216 pp. $12.50.

    In this substantial, occasionally provocative, study Morton Schwartz presents an im- age of the United States obtainable from the publications of Soviet "Americanists." He characterizes these official researchers as Soviet "scholar-publicists of detente" (p. 161). Rewarded for their efforts by trips to the United States and opportunities to

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  • 686 Slavic Review

    purchase American consumer goods, Soviet America-watchers have produced well- documented "Marxist" studies on the shaping of American foreign policy. Schwartz has painstakingly summarized much of their output, using mainly books published by Moscow's U.S.A. Institute and the 1970-76 issues of the Institute's journal, SShA. Unfortunately, he has not compared the content of SShA with mass media reports or with statements about the United States made by Soviet political leaders. This omission somewhat weakens his argument that Soviet Americanists present an image significantly different from that contained in the mass media. Without rejecting this view-or Schwartz's emphasis on the differences between Stalinist and post-Stalinist perceptions-I find the "detente" line taken in SShA compatible with that set forth in Brezhnev's key speech to the June 1969 International Conference of Communist and Workers' Parties, in which he emphasized the benefits to the Communist cause of long-term "peaceful coexistence." This directive permits Americanists to present a less dangerous America, one, moreover, with which Moscow can profitably trade and engage in carefully regulated scientific, technical, and cultural "exchanges." The increasing sophistication displayed by Soviet America-watchers reflects, I think, good training (especially among some of the younger scholars) and the fact that they write for audiences bored by primitive, traditional Soviet myths.

    Professor Schwartz sees in current Soviet perceptions departures from "Stalin's rigid formulas." For example, he finds Soviet analysis of the American federal legis- lative process "often thoughtful, and, mercifully, increasingly free of the stereotypes and polemics still characteristic of the popular media" (p. 60). However, Schwartz notes, the "new" line is presented in the context of the traditional Leninist doctrine of "the predatory nature of imperialism" (p. 148). In that case, one may ask, has there been a basic change in official Soviet perceptions of America? Morton Schwartz answers with a quotation from Georgii Arbatov, director of the U.S.A. Institute and alternate member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party. In 1973, Arbatov wrote in Kommunist that: "if many of the imperialist powers are becoming acceptable partners . . . this does not at all indicate that the class nature of their policies has changed-this has not happened and could not have happened. But the world in which the imperialists have to live and act has changed. It is to these changes, to the objective reality of the present situation, that they have to adapt" (p. 149). Thus, a weakened United States is seen as being easier to deal with than pre- Vietnam America. Clearly the most "acceptable partner" was the administration of Richard Nixon, which, Schwartz notes, is still praised for "the perspicacity and judi- ciousness of its leadership" (p. 123). Yet the image even of Nixon, probably the most positive ever projected on a "bourgeois" politician, is contradictory. Harsh statements were made about Nixon's military alert during the Yom Kippur War (p. 115). The Soviet people were told nothing about Soviet actions before and during that war which clearly violated the Nixon-Brezhnev agreement on prevention of nuclear war. Moreover, "matters are believed to have worsened under the Carter administration" (p. 129), partly because of President Carter's "aggressive stance" on human rights (pp. 167-68, 123-24), but the Americanists are still optimistic.

    One should, I think, be skeptical about how satisfactory the new Soviet "realism" actually is in terms of American interests and values. SShA continues to operate within extraordinarily subjective assumptions. It applauds only those American poli- cies seen to promote Politburo objectives. Based on the data presented by Professor Schwartz, it is possible that the Brezhnev-Nixon detente was an atypical product of two leaders' mutual interests during a transitory conjuncture. The Soviet habit of selective, retrospective reinterpretation of previous political positions on the basis of new requirements is still alive. Certainly Soviet representatives abroad are not per- mitted to articulate any understanding they may have acquired of concepts such as mutuality and reciprocity, as these are understood in democratic societies. These rep- resentatives lobby in the United States Congress, but, according to Professor Schwartz,

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  • Reviews 687

    they blast President Carter's human rights initiatives as a violation of Soviet sover- eignty. For this and other reasons I find Professor Schwartz's criticism of Mr. Carter's human rights policy excessive, although I agree that we must avoid counter- productive tactics. I agree also that we cannot afford to be militarily weak, lest we encourage Kremlin "hawks." However, moral strength and political resolve, dem- onstrated by firmness of commitment to democratic values, in my opinion, are as in- dispensable as economic and military power. Certainly Sakharov's version of detente is more promising than the ambiguous line taken by Kremlin Americanists.

    Despite such reservations, I heartily recommend Soviet Perceptions of the United States to seekers of solid information and informed judgment on a subject of vast importance.

    FREDERICK C. BARGHOORN Yale University

    STUDIES IN SOVIET ECONOMIC PLANNING. By Aron Katsenelinboigen. White Plains, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1978. xvi, 229 pp. $22.50.

    The author of this book received his kandidat and doctoral degrees in the USSR. For seven years he was head of a department at an institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, and for three years he was a professor at Moscow State University. The book consists of seven essays on Soviet economics and the Soviet economy. Two of them have previously been published in English. Chapter 3 was published (in a shorter form) in the Russian Review and chapter 7 in Soviet Studies (a fact rather surpris- ingly not mentioned in the book). Originally written in Russian, the book has been translated into English. Unfortunately, the translation is wooden, sometimes inaccu- rate, and often excessively literal.

    Chapter 1 basically contains two arguments. The first is a hymn of praise to the use of tnathematics in economics. This was quite in place in the Soviet specialist lit- erature of the 1960s but is now of little general interest. The second is the thesis that there are some propositions that are true for all economic systems. I am rather doubt- ful about this. The work of historians (such as M. Finley) and anthropologists (such as Sahlins) suggests that Marx may have been correct. There may well be a "stone age economics," an "economics of classical antiquity," and an "economics of capitalism" which differ profoundly from each other. Even in the natural sciences, the universality of the laws of physics has been challenged by modern cosmology with its "anthropic principle."

    Chapter 2, dealing with Marxism and the Soviet economic system, is a low-grade repetition of ideas much better expressed long ago by Popper and the Czechoslovak reformers of the 1960s. Chapter 3, on Soviet economic thought, adds nothing to what is already well known. Chapter 4 is a methodological discussion which this reader, at any rate, found of little interest. Some remarks in it about the USSR seem patently wrong, evidently reflecting not a careful analysis of the situation but the author's subjective dislike of the USSR. For example, what evidence can be cited to support the view that after World War II "Stalin set himself the task of attaining world dominance" (p. 82) ? The quoted 1946 speech is, surely, simply an indication of Stalin's aim to build up the defense potential of the USSR so as to ward off any future attackers more easily than Hitler had been warded off. Chapter 5 is basically a discus- sion of the economic significance of the duality theorem, which, while adding nothing to the specialist literature, displays the author's ignorance (for example, of Baumol's work on integer programing and prices). Chapter 6 on incentives also contributes noth- ing to the literature, at any rate, as far as I can determine.

    Chapter 7, which treats the diversity of market relationships existing in the USSR, is an interesting attempt to theorize (and inform) about an important aspect of the Soviet economy. Despite Marxists' expectations, markets of various kinds continue to

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    Article Contentsp. 685p. 686p. 687

    Issue Table of ContentsSlavic Review, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Dec., 1979), pp. 563-760Volume Information [pp. 751-760]Front MatterAndrogyny as an Exemplary Feature of Marina Tsvetaeva's Dichotomous Poetic Vision [pp. 563-582]The Status of Women in a Socialist Order: Czechoslovakia, 1948-1978 [pp. 583-602]Women in Soviet Rural Management [pp. 603-613]Soviet Criminology: Its Birth and Demise, 1917-1936 [pp. 614-628]From City Workers to Peasantry: The Beginning of the Russian Movement "To the People" [pp. 629-649]A Note on the Speech of Peter Alekseev [pp. 650-654]Notes and CommentA Note on Russia's Merchandise Balance and Balance of Payments during the Industrialization Era [pp. 655-662]

    Review EssayThe Prague Spring Reassessed [pp. 663-666]

    ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 667-668]Review: untitled [pp. 668-669]Review: untitled [pp. 670]Review: untitled [pp. 671]Review: untitled [pp. 671-672]Review: untitled [pp. 672-673]Review: untitled [pp. 673-674]Review: untitled [pp. 674-675]Review: untitled [pp. 675-676]Review: untitled [pp. 676-677]Review: untitled [pp. 677-678]Review: untitled [pp. 678-679]Review: untitled [pp. 679-680]Review: untitled [pp. 680-681]Review: untitled [pp. 681-682]Review: untitled [pp. 683]Review: untitled [pp. 683-684]Review: untitled [pp. 684-685]Review: untitled [pp. 685]Review: untitled [pp. 685-687]Review: untitled [pp. 687-688]Review: untitled [pp. 688-689]Review: untitled [pp. 689-690]Review: untitled [pp. 690-692]Review: untitled [pp. 692-693]Review: untitled [pp. 693]Review: untitled [pp. 694]Review: untitled [pp. 694-695]Review: untitled [pp. 695]Review: untitled [pp. 696-697]Review: untitled [pp. 697]Review: untitled [pp. 698]Review: untitled [pp. 698-699]Review: untitled [pp. 699-700]Review: untitled [pp. 700]Review: untitled [pp. 700-701]Review: untitled [pp. 701-702]Review: untitled [pp. 702-703]Review: untitled [pp. 703-704]Review: untitled [pp. 704-705]Review: untitled [pp. 705-706]Review: untitled [pp. 706-708]Review: untitled [pp. 708-709]Review: untitled [pp. 709-710]Review: untitled [pp. 710-711]Review: untitled [pp. 711-712]Review: untitled [pp. 712-713]Review: untitled [pp. 713-715]Review: untitled [pp. 715]Review: untitled [pp. 716]Review: untitled [pp. 716-717]Review: untitled [pp. 718]Review: untitled [pp. 718-719]Review: untitled [pp. 719-720]Review: untitled [pp. 720-721]

    Letters [pp. 721]News of the Profession [pp. 722-726]Doctoral Dissertations on Russia, the Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe Accepted by American, Canadian, and British Universities, 1978-1979 [pp. 727-737]Books Received [pp. 738-742]Back Matter [pp. 743-750]

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