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A Balance Sheet on Sixty Years of Soviet Foreign Policy—Part II

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 September 2018

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Last month I described eleven “successes” of Soviet foreign policy since the October, 1917. Revolution. Now it is time to turn to Soviet ““failures” and to the underlying factors that have shaped Soviet policy in the past and that should be weighed by Western policymakers in the years ahead. Partially by coincidence and partially with un eye to symmetry, I again come up with the number eleven.

These assessments of success and failure are based on my own research, stimulated and refined by a survey (both written and oral) that tapped the views of other Soviet specialists visiting the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The “balance sheet.“” of course, represents my own judgment. Readers will no doubt make their own distinctions, thus reducing or expanding the list; some may quarrel about whether a certain.event ought to be rated a failure or a “ success given Moscow's apparent objectives; but I think the following represents a fair account in accord with the facts as we know them.

Copyright © Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs 1978

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* See his "Has Eastern Europe Become a Liability to the Soviet Union?—the Economic Aspect," in The International Policies of Eastern Europe, edited by Charles Gati.

* Kennan recalls a case in 1947 in which General Alfred Gruenther asserted that Soviet armies could reach the Pyrenees in a week. What about the resistance that Western armies might pul up? Gruenther replied that his staff did not figure that in—they looked onl> at the raw capacity—as if Soviet jeeps could drive straight through Europe like tourists!

* As Kennan has noted (Jelier of September 25, 1977). the Soviet regime has totally failed "to make of its own dogmatic ideology a source of spiritual sustenance, inspiration, and enthusiasm for the population of the Soviej Union itself—to make of it, that is, a substitute for the religion it was supposed to replace. .Instead of this at (he end of sixty y(ears: apathy, , cynicism, hypocrisy, individual acquisitivenes, and an appalling spread of alcoholism."

* Here he is talking about the Rapallo Treaty, brought about by Chicherin's skillful exploitation of the circumstances that arose at Genoa, and by the weakness of Western diplomacy— its smugness, superficiality, national-emotional bias, dilettantism of execution, enslavement to the vagaries of domestic politics in the democratic setting; and not least, the "inexcusable denial of American presence and interest at this critical moment" (Russia and the West Under Lenin and Stalin I l%H).

* For background see the author's "Kto Kovo.' The Present Danger, as Seen From Moscow," Worldview (September, 1977).