Soviet Leadership in Transition

Soviet Leadership in Transition

Soviet Leadership in Transition

Soviet Leadership in Transition

Excerpt

The present leaders of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev and his associates, are the last of that group of men who were promoted precipitously in the wake of Stalin's Great Purge of 1937-38. They have therefore been at the top for more than forty years. No other country has a defense minister who became a member of the cabinet as long ago as 1941, or a foreign minister who was named ambassador to Washington during World War II.

Precisely who will succeed whom in the top levels of the Soviet government is of course unpredictable, but those who will dominate the government and Communist party in the 1980s already hold middlelevel political and administrative jobs. They are men who differ radically from the present leaders in background, education, and experience.

In this book Jerry F. Hough, professor of political science and policy science at Duke University, analyzes these generational differences and examines the generational changes occurring within the various Soviet hierarchies--the central and provincial political and administrative structures, the military, and the foreign policy establishment. Many of the data he presents have hitherto been unavailable in the West.

In the last two chapters Hough assesses the ways in which the impending succession may affect Soviet economic reform and Soviet- American relations. He argues that the most important choice the Soviet Union will have to make in the 1980s is that between seeking military superiority or economic parity in relation to the West. This policy choice--and others--will be made by the new Soviet leaders, but Hough believes that Western actions will be influential. He concludes by suggesting how the United States might try to improve relations as the Soviet leadership changes.

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