A New World of Disorder
By August 1990 the changes in Soviet foreign policy that resulted from the policies of Mikhail Gorbachev brought an end to the East-West conflict that had been a central factor in world affairs since 1945. Without those changes U.N. action following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait would have been impossible.
That invasion illustrated that the end of East-West conflict did not mean an end to conflict. Further, the Persian Gulf War and its aftermath, with numerous discoveries concerning the Iraqi nuclear weapons program, illustrated the need for extensive intelligence capabilities in the post-Cold War era.
Several months after that war ended hard-line forces in the Soviet Union, including the chairman of the KGB, attempted to displace Mikhail Gorbachev. Within weeks of their attempt they were in jail and the Soviet Union was living on borrowed time. The implications of the failed coup and the Soviet demise were dramatic for the KGB. While the GRU survived as the military intelligence agency of the new Russian state, the KGB was shattered -- its functions divided into a number of agencies.
Throughout the former East bloc, the intelligence agencies of the communist regimes were replaced by new services, which perhaps would be more respectful of democratic ideals. The collapse of the East German regime meant an end to refuge for many of Markus Wolf's agents and the discovery of others. For Markus Wolf it would ultimately mean a trial for treason.
The end of the Cold War has focused attention on a nonviolent form of conflict -- economic competition -- and the role of intelligence in that struggle. Since high-tech economic competition occurs largely among the Western nations and the Pacific rim, economic espionage often involves targeting the business enterprises of an allied nation, using both human sources and communications intercepts.
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Publication information: Book title: A Century of Spies:Intelligence in the Twentieth Century. Contributors: Jeffrey T. Richelson - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 416.