Gorbachev's Retreat: The Third World

Gorbachev's Retreat: The Third World

Gorbachev's Retreat: The Third World

Gorbachev's Retreat: The Third World

Synopsis

Goodman inquires into the Soviet retreat from the Third World that began under Gorbachev, citing disillusionment with the Third World; diminished strategic significance of the Third World to current Soviet leadership; the limitations for Soviet power projection in distant areas; and the need to focus on internal economic problems. The key role of Afghanistan as a watershed in Soviet thinking on the Third World is examined and how cooperation with the U.S. tends to stabilize Third World flash points is analyzed.

Excerpt

This study describes and analyzes President Mikhail Gorbachev's strategic retreat from the Third World. the Gorbachev years have marked an era of tumult and change in Soviet domestic and foreign policies, particularly in the Third World. Gorbachev's decisions are directly responsible for the decline in Soviet military presence in every major region of the world and the reduction of Soviet military aid and advisers in every key Soviet client state. Gorbachev has worked closely with the United States to resolve crises in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Nicaragua, and the Persian Gulf. the Soviets have taken significant steps to improve relations with Israel, South Korea, and South Africa, and have signaled their client states to improve relations with these states as well.

Gorbachev deserves the major share of credit for these changes in Soviet behavior. From the outset, he recognized Moscow's inability to project power into the Third World and to continue to extract scarce resources for foreign and military policy goals. His willingness to allow communist regimes to collapse in Eastern Europe, to withdraw Soviet forces from Central Europe and the Sino-Soviet border, and to retreat from the Third World is a direct response to the "imperial overstretch" of the Brezhnev era. It is an even more incredible achievement that he has taken such a weak diplomatic hand and, having played his cards so well since 1985, improved the Soviet international position. Gorbachev perhaps is a student of Talleyrand, who remarked two hundred years ago that, "France can no longer be great if it is merely powerful."

This book acknowledges Gorbachev's recognition that the Soviet Union lacked the basic requirement of power, that is, to make sure that . . .

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