How the Cold War Strategy Was Forged

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 12, 2009 | Go to article overview

How the Cold War Strategy Was Forged


Byline: Joseph C. Goulden, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

When the final and definitive story is told - you probably won't read details for decades - the initial turning point in the Cold War came very quietly in the 1950s and 1960s. It was then that analysts at the RAND Corporation made what was then a radical but verifiable conclusion: the West was far stronger than the Soviet Union and its allies - it had more manpower, greater wealth and a huge lead in technology.

So, what was needed to exploit these inherent advantages? A long term strategy that would be more effective than the policy of containment - and the will to implement it.

Such, in a very tight nutshell, is the essence of Gordon Barrass' The Great Cold War, an absolutely brilliant account of how analysis both in and out of our government concluded that the Soviet Union, in many ways, was a Potemkin Village, whose outward bravado and blustering concealed a power that was a hollow shell. Eventually, the Soviets came to realize the futility of keeping up the facade of being a world power, and the entire artifice collapsed.

To be sure, Mr. Barrass on one point (in a closing section titled Slaying the Myths ) is certainly on target. He writes, The first myth that needs to be slain is that the Soviet Union was not ever a real threat to the West. On the contrary ... it was a serious threat The danger of this contention is that it deflects attention from the sustained and complex efforts required to deal with adversaries drive by deeply rooted hostility.

During the last years of the Cold War, Mr. Barrass was chief of the assessments staff in the British Cabinet Office and a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Hence, he was in a position to watch history as it unfolded. His subsequent research for this book took him into the offices of persons who bore the brunt of the struggle, in comfortable offices and out in the back alleys.

One knowledgeable participant he interviewed was the Texas-born Milton Bearden, a key figure in the CIA's Clandestine Service operations against the Soviets for decades. In passing, Mr. Barrass asked him to list the greatest intelligence failure. We didn't realize how [expletive deleted] scared Soviet leaders were of us, Mr. Bearden said.

If a single hero must be selected from Mr. Barrass' rich cast, I would point to Andrew Marshall, who began work at RAND and ultimately became head of the Net Assessment Office in the Pentagon. Andy Marshall's important contribution to U.S. intelligence was his training of several generations of analysts not to view the Soviets as a mirror image of our society. The Soviets were in fact different, culturally and otherwise. Mr.Marshall scoffed at those - of a certain political persuasion - who believed in the inherent harmony of man and that the Soviet leadership could be coaxed into a relationship with the United States that did not threaten our interests.

Mr. Barrass makes clear that Soviet intelligence often ill-served its leaders. Alexander Yakovlev, who served in Andrei Gorbachev's Politburo, said reports to Moscow reinforced the hostile image of the West by blaming the Americans for everything. Yakovlev said, People were praised not for their objectivity, but for providing information that was in line with policy, what we call 'loyal information.'" This is the most damning assessment possible of intelligence.

To be sure, there were some realists in the Soviet bloc. For instance, famed East German spymaster Markus Wolfe gave Moscow what he told Mr. Barrass was the most depressing insight yet into the state of the Warsaw Pact. Include among the realists Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov, who observed to a U.S. journalist in the 1970s that in the U.S., even small children play with computers ... For reasons you know well, we cannot make computers widely available in our society Here, we don't even have computers in every office of the Defense Ministry. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

How the Cold War Strategy Was Forged
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.