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The International Regime of Soviet-East European Economic Relations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2017


In recent years, scholars of international relations have realized how poor have been their predictions, based on relative military or economic strength, of the outcome of negotiations or disputes. The strong often do not prevail or must compromise to a surprising extent. The Soviet Union's relations with its six East European allies have also exhibited this phenomenon. Even during the period when Soviet leaders were committed to maintaining control over Eastern Europe as a vital underpinning of Soviet security, and despite the Soviet Union's disproportionate strength in the region, the East European states departed from Soviet wishes in a variety of ways. In the late 1980s, this departure, for a while, took the ironic form of Romania, the GDR, and Czechoslovakia flouting Soviet calls for reform.

Copyright © Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. 1990

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This article has benefitted from the comments of William Zimmerman, John A. C. Conybeare, Harold K. Jacobson, and an anonymous referee for this journal. A year in Moscow under the auspices of the International Research and Exchanges Board improved my understanding of the norms discussed herein. The United States Board of Foreign Scholarships and the United States Department of Education made the stay easier by granting me a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship. I thank these people and organizations. The conclusions expressed in the article are mine alone.

1. The East European members of the Warsaw Treaty Organization were Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

2. For examples, see Valerie, Bunce, “The Empire Strikes Back : The Transformation of the Eastern Bloc from a Soviet Asset into a Soviet Liability, ” International Organization 39 (Winter 1985) : 146.Google Scholar

3. Keohane, Robert O. and Nye, Joseph S., Power and Interdependence (Boston : Little, Brown, 1977)Google Scholar; Ernst, Haas, “Issue-Linkage and International Regimes, ” World Politics 32 (April 1980)Google Scholar; Stephen, Krasner, ed., “International Regimes, ” International Organization 36 (Spring 1982)Google Scholar; this is a special issue. A notable defense of the concept's utility is found in Keohane, Robert O., After Hegemony (Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1984)Google Scholar.

4. This definition is a reformulation of the most widely accepted one, which refers to “principles, norms, rules and decisionmaking procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue area.” The first part of my definition incorporates principles, norms, and rules, while the second part refers to decision-making procedures. See Stephen Krasner, “Structural Causes and Regime Consequences, ” in Krasner, ed., “International Regimes, ” 185.

5. Oran R., Young, “Regime Dynamics, ” International Organization 36 (Spring 1982) : 282–285Google Scholar; Keohane, After Hegemony, passim; and Zbigniew, Brzezinski, The Soviet Bloc, 2nd ed. (Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 1967), 109111.Google Scholar

6. The CMEA also includes three non-European full members : Mongolia, Cuba, and Vietnam.

7. Young, “Regime Dynamics, ” 285.

8. Brzezinski, Soviet Bloc, i l l.

9. Ibid., 116-124.

10. For discussion of intra-CMEA trade negotiations, see Thomas W., Hoya, “The Legal Framework of Soviet Foreign Trade, ” Minnesota Law Review 56 (November 1971) : 1–45Google Scholar; Sandor, Ausch, Theory and Practice of CMEA Cooperation (Budapest : Akademiai Kiade, 1972.Google Scholar

11. See Michael, Kaser, COMECON, 2nd ed. (New York : Oxford University Press, 1967), 105119 Google Scholar, as well as Montias, J. M., “Background and Origins of the Rumanian Dispute with COMECON, ” Soviet Studies 16 (October 1964) : 125–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and Brzezinski, Soviet Bloc, 444-447.

12. The negotiation of this document is described in Henry, Schaefer, COMECON and the Politics of Integration (New York : Praeger, 1972 Google Scholar. The document is translated in William E. Butler, ed., A Source Book on Socialist International Organizations (Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands : Sitjhoff od Noordhoff, 1978), 33-120.

13. For a recent treatment of the evolution of the CMEA and its members’ efforts at economic cooperation, see Brabant, Jozef M. van, Adjustment, Structural Change, and Economic Efficiency (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1987.Google Scholar

14. Eight standing commissions were established in 1956 (chemicals, ferrous metallurgy, nonferrous metallurgy, oil and gas, coal, machine building, agriculture, and foreign trade). By 1985 twenty-four existed. More recently, the number of standing commissions was dramatically reduced to thirteen. See Vladimir Sobell, “Reform of the CMEA Makes Cautious Progress, ” Radio Free Europe Research, RAD Background Report, 37 (economics) 8 March 1988.

15. Van Brabant discusses these in Adjustment, Structural Change, 67-70.

16. For a discussion of the numerous bodies, under the aegis of the CMEA, see Richard, Szawlowski, The System of the International Organizations of the Communist Countries (Leyden : Sijthoff, 1976 Google Scholar and G. M., Veliaminov, Sotsialisticheskaia integratsiia i mezhdunarodnoe pravo (Moscow : Mezhdunarodnie Otnosheniye, 1982.Google Scholar

17. Reprinted in English in Butler, ed., Source Book, 124-135.

18. Ibid., 14-32.

19. Ekonomicheskoe sotrudnichestvo stran-chlenov SEV, no. 3 (March 1986), 2-13.

20. The fact that there are more Soviet sources overall is controlled for in the calculation of t-tests and their levels of significance, which are presented in the tables and in footnote 25 below. Thus, the different numbers of Soviet and of East European documents does not bias the analyses.

21. This assumption is an imperfect but accepted one in content analysis; see Klaus, Krippendorf, Content Analysis : An Introduction to Its Methodology (Beverly Hills, Calif. : Sage, 1980), 40.Google Scholar

22. For example, Polish censorship guidelines included the following : “In articles concerning the CMEA, publication should not be permitted of critical materials concerning the usefulness and principles of economic cooperation among the socialist countries.” Aleksandar, Niczow, The Black Book of Polish Censorship (South Bend, Ind. : And Books, 1982), 110.Google Scholar

23. On these dangers, see Linden, Ronald Haly, Bear and Foxes, East European Monographs 50 (Boulder, Colo. : East European Quarterly, 1979), 5455 Google Scholar. Contrast with Breslauer, George W., Khrushchev and Brezhnev as Leaders (Boston : Allen and Unwin, 1982), 17.Google Scholar

24. The datum coded is the percentage of a source's paragraphs in which a term or phrase is mentioned. If, for example, a term is mentioned three times in an article of fifty paragraphs, but those three mentions are all in one paragraph, then that term receives credit for one paragraph, which will have a value of 2 percent. Analyzing percentages controls for the varying lengths of the speeches, editorials, and documents. The paragraph is the unit of analysis because the importance of a concept seemed more likely to be reflected in the states’ application of it to different subjects and, hence, in different paragraphs than to be seen merely in how often it is used. Within a paragraph devoted to a particular subject, whether a term is mentioned once, twice, or three times is probably more a matter of style than whether it is mentioned at all.

25. To determine whether there is a significant difference in the average usage of a term between two sources, I use the student's t test. For a discussion of this statistic, see Moore, David S. and McCabe, George P., Introduction to the Practice of Statistics (New York : Freeman, 1989), 541550.Google Scholar

26. For the treatment of these terms in a textbook written by a team of scholars from different CMEA countries, see S., Anghelov, Socialist Internationalism : Theory and Practice of International Relations of a New Type (Moscow : Progress, 1982), 139141.Google Scholar

27. See, for example, the writings cited in Bernard A. Ramundo, The (Soviet) Socialist Theory of International Law, George Washington University, Institute for Sino-Soviet Studies, no. 1 (January 1964), 31-41; as well as Veliaminov, G. M., Sotsialisticheskaia integratsiia i mezhdunarodnoe pravo (Moscow : Mezhdunarodnoe Otnoshenie, 1982), 4654 Google Scholar; Bobrik, M. N., “Falsifikatsiia burzhuaznoi istoriografiei printsipa sotsialisticheskogo internatsionalisma, ” in Kritika burzhuaznikh falsifikatsii istorii sotsialisticheskogo sodruzhestvo v Evrope, ed., V. K. Volkov (Moscow : Nauka, 1986), 148163 Google Scholar; and Tunkin, G. I., International Law (Moscow : Progress, 1986), 242253 Google Scholar. Note also that some sources, such as G. I. Tunkin, refer to the principles of socialist internationalism. Because socialist internationalism is the basis for all socialist international ties, it “integrates in a general way all the basic principles of socialist international relations” (242), including many of the forty terms analyzed herein.

28. For example, it underlay the Soviet rationale for the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. For discussions of the political significance of employing or not employing this phrase, see Brzezinski, Soviet Bloc, 292-293, and 324-328; Rakowska-Harmstone, Teresa, “'Socialist Internationalism’ and Eastern Europe : A New Stage, ” Survey 22 (Winter 1976) : 38–54Google Scholar, and (Spring 1976) : 81-95; and Dawisha, Karen and Valdez, Jonathan, “Socialist Internationalism in Eastern Europe, ” Problems of Communism 36 (March-April, 1987) : 1–14.Google Scholar

29. See the discussion in Anghelov, Socialist Internationalism, 344-355.

30. In fact, the leading Soviet expert on international law, Tunkin, once described economic socialist internationalism as implying the elimination of existing inequalities in the level of economic development (quoted in Kaser, COMECON, 85).

31. See Kaser, COMECON, 55-65.

32. See Anghelov, Socialist Internationalism, 136-156, as well as the wording of the 1986 Program of the Communist party of the Soviet Union as noted in Dawisha and Valdez, “Socialist Internationalism, ” 3.

33. Guiseppi, Schiavonne, The Institutions of COMECON (London : Macmillan, 1980), 28 Google Scholar discusses the subtle differences in usage in the late 1970s.

34. This shift is discussed by John Hannigan and Carl McMillan, “Joint Investment in Resource Development : Sectoral Approaches to Socialist Integration, ” in U.S. Congress, Joint Economic Committee, East European Economic Assessment, part 2 (1980), 263. For a representative CMEA interpretation of the meaning of socialist integration, see Anghelov, Socialist Internationalism, 331-344.

35. Furthermore, in 1972 the goal of achieving integration was embodied in the CMEA charter.

36. Hewett, Edward A., Foreign Trade Prices in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (London : Cambridge University Press, 1974), 5.Google Scholar

37. Butler, Source Book, 40 and 42. Peter Marsh discusses how these formulations were negotiated in “The Integration Process in Eastern Europe, 1968-1975, ” Journal of Common Market Studies 14 (June 1976) : 311-335.

38. Evidently, the CMEA adopted what was the predominant Yugoslav strategy for developing the country as a whole and bringing its poorer regions up to the level of its richer ones : specialization but with income transfers to the poorer regions. See Tyson, Laura D'Andrea, The Yugoslav Economic System in the 1970s (Berkeley : Institute of International Studies, University of California, 1980), 65 Google Scholar. The CMEA did not seem to have significantly better success with this strategy than did Yugoslavia.

39. For a discussion of CMEA procedures, see Richard Szawlowski, The System of International Organization of the Communist Countries (Leyden : Sijfhoff, 1976), 63-64.

40. Kaser, COMECON, 29.

41. See, for example, Schaeffer, Comecon, passim.

42. Michael, Marrese, “CMEA : Effective but Cumbersome Political Economy, ” International Organization 40 (spring 1986) : 287–328Google Scholar; van Brabant, Adjustment, Structural Change, 2-3.

43. Keohane, After Hegemony, chapter 6.

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