A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 98: Speech by Andropov at the Political
Consultative Committee Meeting in Prague, January 4–5, 1983

Iurii Andropov delivered this important speech to the PCC soon after becoming gen- eral secretary of the CPSU. His comments mark another stage in the Soviet leader- ship's endeavors to understand the changes in American and NATO policies from the Carter to the Reagan administrations. Andropov's interpretation is that the West is compensating for both recent losses in the Third World and the ongoing internal cri- sis of capitalism. At least the first part of the argument, though not the second, is direct- ly in line with Reagan's own thinking. Implicitly criticizing the stagnant policies of his predecessor, Leonid Brezhnev, Andropov also asserts that the West is trying to exploit weaknesses in the socialist countries, including their indebtedness to Western creditors, inadequate food supplies and technological backwardness. He clearly believes the United States is out to achieve superiority, and is worried about what he believes is America's ability to maintain the arms race by simply cutting other expenditures as needed. Both of these views mirror the thinking in conservative Western circles.

Each of us, evidently, wonders what has caused the sharp turn in U.S. and NATO policy, which produced the current flare-up of tensions, and for how long this aggravation will last.

The essence of the matter, in our opinion, is above all the unfavorable changes in the world from the point of view of imperialism.

The 1970s were a time of further growth in the power and influence of the socialist commonwealth. We were able to achieve military–strategic parity with the West. This gave us an opportunity to conduct business on a par with it. Our dynamic policy of détente produced major positive developments in international relations.

Imperialism suffered noticeable losses in the wide zone of the so-called third world, upon control of whose resources the well-being of the West continues to depend. Revolutionary changes in Angola, Ethiopia, Nicaragua and other countries—and they were caused by objective factors—were taken by Washington, not without reason, as a defeat for American policy.

The Reagan phenomenon and his policy, however, has not only external but also internal causes. Symptoms of deep crisis—the fall of production, inflation, mass unemployment—have affected practically all capitalist countries. And the bourgeoisie, as a rule, looks for escape from such conditions by embarking on external political adventures.

But this is but one side of the coin. The other side is that the USA and NATO have seen their opportunity in the difficulties we all have been facing to one extent or another in our economic development. I have in mind the growth of foreign debts, the food situation, our technological lag in certain areas and a series of other bottlenecks. Internal political complications in some socialist countries have been ap

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