The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East

By Richard Bordeaux Parker | Go to book overview
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The pipeline was full of remarkably crude intelligence.

Soviet official, September 11, 1990

In an effort to answer some of the questions posed in the first chapter, I made a two-week trip to Moscow in September 1990 at the invitation of the Institute of Oriental Studies to interview present and former Soviet officials and journalists about their recollections of the events of 1967. The principal problem the Institute and I faced was to find survivors of the period who were both knowledgeable and able to talk. We assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that no purpose was to be served by trying to talk to the KGB or the military, because neither would speak frankly. The two ambassadors most directly involved, Pojidaev and Chuvakhin, were both dead. Pojidaev's deputy, Alexander Semiochkin, was reportedly too ill to be interviewed, and we never managed to locate Mikhail Yakushev, who had been Chuvakhin's deputy, or Evgueny Nersessov, who had been the deputy chief of mission in Damascus (although I had spoken with Nersessov twelve years earlier, as noted in chapter 1).

I was, however, able to interview Anatoly Barkovsky, the Soviet ambassador in Damascus at the time, who gave me useful insights into the view from that capital. I also had a useful interview with Georgiy Kornienko, recently retired deputy foreign minister, who had been head of the American department in the Foreign Ministry in 1967 and subsequently a member of the working group which prepared a detailed study of the 1967 crisis for the Central Committee of the Communist party of the Soviet Union, during which he had access to all the relevant papers on the subject.

I received valuable insights into the intelligence environment in 1967 from Oleg Bykov of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) and Vitaly Naumkin, deputy director of the Institute of Oriental Studies. I also had useful comments from Alexander Kislov, deputy director of IMEMO, who was the Tass correspondent in Cairo in 1967; Igor Beliaev of Literaturnaya Gazeta, a well-known commentator on


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