The Decline of the Soviet Union and the Transformation of the Middle East

By David H. Goldberg; Paul Marantz | Go to book overview

The "state interest" in this context was said to involve a political solution to the crisis which would preserve Iraq as "a prosperous, territorially integral state, playing a worthy role in the international community," 82 and protect Saddam Hussein's regime (presumably as an entity which would be more amenable than another to restoring the Soviet connection, although this was not openly expressed). Significantly, however, even among conservative Arabist spokesmen, the state interest did not call for actions which would force a total break with the coalition; most of these spokesmen seemed just as concerned as the reformers to preserve the actual and presumed benefits of Gorbachev's new thinking relationship with Washington.

Thus, the record of Soviet policies in the Persian Gulf in the 1980s indicated that the essential part of new political thinking toward Third World conflict, cooperation in conflict management and resolution, was more permanent than had been feared. However, it also indicated that new thinking should not be seen as an intentional retreat from the Third World or from regional conflict. As Primakov declared: "The Soviet flag has been shown, and it has had a very positive reception. We are a superpower, we have our own line, our own policies. We are demonstrating this point."83

The failed coup in August 1991 discredited many of the conservative forces mentioned above. It thus gave the new thinkers in domestic and foreign policy another chance to push ahead. At the same time, however, the failure of the coup finally unleashed the forces which destroyed the Soviet Union. Even in 1994, the shape of the successor state, its political system, and its foreign policy decision-making processes have not been clearly delineated. Nevertheless, it seems probable that the combination of nuclear capabilities and retained memories of post-war power, along with pervasive resource constraints, will impel it to try to pursue policies very similar to Gorbachevian new thinking.


Notes

The author wishes to thank the United States Institute for Peace for its support of the research of which this chapter is a part.

1.
For an analysis of the various strains of new thinking in its early phases, see D. Albright , "The U.S.S.R. and the Third World in the 1980s," Problems of Communism, 37 ( March-June 1989), pp. 50-70.
2.
A. Kislov, "Novoe politicheskoe myshlenie i regionalnye konflikty," Mirovaia Ekonomika i Mezhdunarodnye Otnosheniia, no. 8 ( August) 1988, p. 39; A. Kosolovsky , "Risk Zones in the Third World," International Affairs ( Moscow), no. 8 ( August) 1989, pp. 39-49; see also M. N. Katz, Gorbachev's Military Policy in the Third World ( New York: Praeger, 1989).
3.
Much of the "new thinking" is not new. It stems from mostly open academic debate in the 1970s and early 1980s. For sources detailing the debate, see R. E. Kanet, "Reassessing Soviet Doctrine: New Priorities and Perspectives," in E. A. Kolodziej

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