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Organizational politics and change in Soviet military policy.

AS the attempted coup of 1991 dramatically illustrates, civil-military relations in Russia matter. For a decade before the coup attempt, scholars had studied civil-military relations in the Soviet Union by asking how the military participated in politics, rather than how civilians controlled the military.(1) While this approach turns out to be fruitful for explaining the coup attempt,(2) it neglects an important issue: civilian control over military policy. The issue matters because whoever controls military policy can profoundly affect Russian (or in the past, Soviet) foreign relations. An offensive military strategy, for example, can provoke or alarm one's neighbors and thereby undermine attempts to establish cooperative relations.(3) Because military bureaucracies often have an interest in offensive military strategies--as the Soviet military did and as parts of Russia's military do--the ability of civilian leaders to control military strategy may be essential for establishing cooperative relations with neighboring countries.

The key questions addressed in this article are (1) how and (2) under what circumstances military policy can be changed to ensure its integration with a state's overall foreign policy. To the second question--when military policy is integrated with foreign policy--Barry Posen suggests two alternative theoretical answers. The first is that policies tend not to be integrated: Posen's "organization theory" model suggests that militaries tend to resist innovation out of bureaucratic inertia, even if the result is poorly integrated policy.(4) Posen's second explanation, based on neorealist international relations theory, suggests that sometimes the international environment forces change in military policy. Posen's starting point is that one way states can balance against external threats is by increasing their own power, for example, by improving strategy.(5) Therefore, according to Posen, a balance-of-power model suggests that when states face serious external threats (or when they are contemplating aggression), they tend to adjust their military policy to make sure their grand strategy is integrated and effective.(6)

The question of how leaders can change military policy generates another debate. Posen suggests that when the balance-of-power model applies--when a state is under serious threat or when it is contemplating aggression--civilian leaders intervene in military policy to force the military to jettison obsolete strategies and develop new and better ones that are well integrated into the state's grand strategy. A major competing view suggested by Stephen Peter Rosen holds that civilian intervention alone cannot cause real innovation in military strategy. If a military service is to implement a "new way of war," the service or branch chief must first alter the service's organizational structure to create career incentives for his subordinates to carry out the innovation.(7) Without such change from within, Rosen suggests, civilian intervention cannot be effective.

Studies of Soviet military policy before Gorbachev produce a parallel but separate debate on these issues. On one side are the military-mission theorists, who argue that Soviet military strategy was set by the military leadership but was kept in line with Soviet grand strategy. Like Posen's balance-of-power model, the military-mission model contends that policy was integrated; like Rosen's model, it locates the source of change in operational policy in the military bureaucracy. On the other side of this debate is the organizational model, which asserts that Soviet military policy was the result of pulling and hauling among competing bureaucracies with divergent interests. This approach, which shares the key assumptions of Posen's organization theory model, suggests that Soviet national security policy may have been neither integrated nor innovative.

Because these debates parallel each other so closely, examining the models of Soviet military policy has the added benefit of providing a test for the competing general theories about how and when military policies change. The test in this study is how well the competing models explain a pair of puzzles in Soviet military policy under Brezhnev. The first puzzle concerns Soviet military strategy. During most of the Brezhnev era the Soviet plan in case of a European war was to launch a large conventional ground and air offensive against NATO forces in Western Europe. Although both civilian and military leaders preferred that any war remain a conventional one, their military strategy was, they knew, highly likely to provoke NATO into using nuclear weapons. Why did they choose such a self-defeating strategy?

The second puzzle, the Soviet decision to sign the Treaty on Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Systems, presents the opposite question. Throughout the 1960s Soviet military leaders insisted that an effective ABM defense was essential to their nuclear war-fighting strategy. Yet in 1972, at the behest of Soviet civilian leaders, the USSR agreed to strict ABM limits, and Soviet military strategy changed accordingly. Why were Soviet civilian leaders able to change military strategy on this issue while they failed on the other?

Brezhnev's Soviet Union is theoretically interesting because it presents at the same time an easy case and a hard case for the models hypothesizing innovation and integration. On the one hand, the Brezhnevist state--with its official ideology, cohesive leadership group with a clear leader, top-down bureaucratic controls, and a clear enemy--was a likely candidate to behave as a unitary rational actor, and indeed it claimed to be one. It should, therefore, have behaved as the balance-of-power model hypothesizes--innovating in strategy to keep up with changing doctrine. On the other hand, Brezhnev's rule was later appropriately described as an "era of stagnation" in which bureaucratism ran rampant. This combination of the prerequisites for innovation and an absence of significant change is intriguing.

This study asks two questions about the cases examined. First, which theory about Soviet military policy best explains the divergent outcomes? Second, what can be learned from the different outcomes about what it takes to achieve change in military doctrine? The next section of this article specifies the alternative models and proposes hypotheses based on each. The following two sections examine Soviet behavior in the two cases and evaluate the competing explanations of each case. The last two sections examine (1) the implications of the findings for theories of change in military policy and (2) the relevance of those conclusions for contemporary Russia.



According to Posen's theory, the balance-of-power model should be applicable to the soviet Union in the late 1960s and early 1970s.(8) One motivation for civilian intervention in military policy is fear, and Soviet civilian leaders in the late 1960s repeatedly told domestic and allied audiences that "it would be an enormous mistake to underestimate the danger of war."(9) Even as the Soviet fear of war diminished with progress in detente in the early 1970s, it never completely disappeared. Significantly, Soviet fears of war focused not only on possible Western aggression but also on the possibility of an accidental outbreak of war.(10) As Posen notes, Soviet isolation--especially in the wake of the Sino-Soviet split--further motivated the Soviet leadership to make sure military doctrine accorded with political priorities.(11)

Using the balance-of-power model to explain Soviet behavior is problematic, however. In order to make the model useful for explaining military doctrine, Posen smuggles in assumptions about state goals and priorities, such as whether a state desires conquest or the status quo and whether it is willing to fight a preventive war. Thus, there is not one balance-of-power model of Soviet military policy; rather, there are several, representing different views of Soviet aims and priorities.

The most prominent interpretation of Soviet military policy is the military-mission model.(12) In this view, Soviet military policy was founded on military doctrine--the basic assumptions of the political leadership about the nature and goals of a possible future war.(13) On the basis of the doctrine, the model suggests, the general staff formulated Soviet military strategy.(14) Most military-mission theorists assume, often implicitly, a consensus of civilian and military leaders based on their shared experiences: Brezhnev, for example, had had military experience in World War II. As a result of this consensus, the thinking goes, the general staff could set military strategy and keep it in accord with doctrine without detailed civilian oversight.(15) This view differs, of course, from Posen's hypothesis that policy integration requires civilian intervention.(16) Both hypotheses will be tested against the evidence from the two cases.

According to the military-mission model, the content of Soviet military strategy changed in the mid-1960s: after that time Soviet military strategy dropped its assumption that any European war would be an allout nuclear war and instead increasingly emphasized the possibility of a conventional or limited nuclear war.(17) According to the military-mission view, this change was a response to changes in NATO strategy that seemed to make such a conflict possible;(18) furthermore, Soviet military calculations suggested that it would be preferable. The military-mission model therefore incorporates Rosen's theory of change in military policy: innovators at the head of the Soviet military are presumed to have driven the shift in strategy.

That view of Soviet strategy has not gone unchallenged. Some theorists, promoting what might be called the "nuclear victory model," have argued that Soviet military strategy never really shifted from a focus on nuclear war.(19) Evidence that came to light in the late 1980s discredited this view, however. It shows that even confidential Soviet sources, such as secret lectures from the Soviet General Staff Academy, expressed a clear preference for conventional over nuclear combat and a determination to plan for either eventuality.(20)

A balance-of-power model might suggest that the apparent contradictions in Soviet strategy constitute evidence of another element of Soviet policy--public diplomacy. Soviet spokesmen may have taken the public position that they were planning only for nuclear war in order to undermine NATO strategy and gain coercive leverage in diplomacy.(21) Discussion of their actual planning for conventional combat was usually kept quiet because it was less effective as propaganda. Any rhetoric from civilian leaders asserting the peaceful and defensive intentions of the Soviet Union (which might appear to contradict the offensive military strategy) can also be viewed as propaganda intended to prevent the adversary from being provoked by the aggressive military rhetoric.(22)

Military-mission theorists argue that the decision to sign the ABM treaty had to have been a military, and particularly a general staff, decision, made on military-technical grounds. The general staff, they argue, was delegated the authority to accept or reject the ABM treaty on the basis of the answer to the technical question: would ABMs help or hinder execution of the Soviet strategic plan? Since the Soviets signed the treaty, the military-mission argument obviously must be that Soviet military leaders calculated that signing the ABM treaty would enhance their strategic position.(23)


According to the organizational model, the behavior of Soviet military services was aimed primarily at defending their organizational interests.(24) Most importantly, the model suggests, military services were concerned with protecting their "essential cores"--their most valued missions and the plans and forces for carrying out those missions.(25) To this end the services pursued other goals as well, for example, increased budget share, improved morale, or increased autonomy: budget share lets the services procure and maintain the forces necessary to carry out essential core missions; high morale is important for carrying out any function effectively; and autonomy makes it easier to protect essential core plans and procedures.

The key implication of this model is that when organizational interests differed from the dictates of military doctrine or strategy, the organizations generally protected their own interests, rather than following externally imposed requirements. Thus, military leaders devised military strategy in accordance with their organizational interests, regardless of any contrary doctrinal requirements set by their civilian superiors. As Posen explains, military organizations usually have an interest in offensive military strategies.(26) Since civilians are likely to have different interests, the likely result is (using the Soviet terms) poorly integrated military strategy and doctrine.

In broad terms, this model suggests that while the Soviet general staff was nominally in charge of the services, in practice it acted more as a broker among the services than as a dictator to them. Knowing that any attack on the services' essential core missions and capabilities would have entailed high costs in declining morale and reduced efficiency, general staff leaders usually felt obligated to protect those vital service interests. The decision-making process would therefore have resembled the process so vividly depicted for the American military by Samuel Huntington, a process of pursuing consensus amid conflicting service interests.(27)

Also as in the American system, political leaders would not have won political battles against their generals on issues of doctrine or strategy unless they had the necessary political support and bureaucratic tools. The key bureaucratic tool is what might be called a policy handle: a way to redefine the nature of a policy decision and force change on a subordinate organization by removing the policy decision from the organization's exclusive area of expertise. The redefinition of the issue legitimizes the sustained outside pressure that organization theorists suggest operates as a route to innovation.(28) More significantly, it allows leaders to institutionalize supervision of the policy by another organization, which enables them to monitor policy implementation and ensure that the change takes place. As James Q. Wilson argues, the ability to monitor responsiveness effectively is necessary to make change happen.(29)

Budgets sometimes act as policy handles for changing military policy: since budget dicisions are based on economic and political as well as military factors, the military cannot claim sole expertise over military budget decisions. Hence, budgets fall within the authority of the civilian leadership, not the military; the decisions are handled by political bodies and monitored by budgeting organizations. Nevertheless, the budget is not always an effective policy handle. On military issues, it can be used to shape force structure by directing funds toward desired programs, but it cannot directly affect the military's plans for how to use the forces (that is, strategy). When an appropriate policy handle is available to civilian leaders, they can force change in military doctrine, as Posen's model suggests. When civilian leaders lack a policy handle, as the Soviets did on the issue of military strategy, then the implementation of doctrinal requirements needs a high-ranking innovator within the military organization, as Rosen's theory contends.

Use of a policy handle also requires a favorable political environment. Dennis Ross suggests that the Soviet polity under Brezhnev can be modeled as a "competitive oligarchy." The model's key principle is that decisions usually required unanimity, which typically resulted in lowest-common-denominator policies.(30) The coalition was maintained, according to this model, out of "the actors' fear of the alternative": open disagreement would have violated the legitimating myth of the leaders' "monolithic unity" and threatened the entire elite's most basic interest--the power to rule over a society most of whose interests they did not represent.

In order to function at all, such a decision-making system requires a leader. George Breslauer suggests that leadership was supplied by the general secretary, whose job was to act as an "artful synthesizer," balancing competing interests and integrating them into policy decisions.(31) Thus, according to this model, the decision to force an innovation, for example, by signing the ABM treaty, required the construction of a bureaucratic coalition, with General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev probably playing a leading role in putting it together. That coalition would have been able to use the arms control process as an effective policy handle.


The military-mission and balance-of-power models offer unitary rational-actor explanations of Soviet military policy that reinforce each other on most points. The main propositions of the models are:

1. Military doctrine as set by political leaders was the foundation of Soviet military policy. Military leaders set strategy in accordance with the requirements of doctrine. Military policy was therefore integrated.

2. According to the military-mission model, policy was integrated due to a civilian-military policy consensus; according to Posen's model of policy change, it was due to civilian involvement in setting military strategy.

3. The content of Soviet military doctrine and strategy after the mid-1960s was increasingly concerned with conventional and limited war. Civilian and military statements not compatible with doctrine or strategy were part of a separate policy of public diplomacy.

4. According to the military-mission model, the Soviets signed the ABM treaty because the top military leadership expected ABM limitations would be more of a help than a hindrance for Soviet strategy.

The assumptions and hypotheses of the organizational model of Soviet military policy can be summarized as follows:

1. Military leaders tried to design military strategy to protect the essential core missions of their institutions, even where those institutional interests conflicted with military doctrine as established by civilian leaders.

2. Since Politburo decisions were typically made by logrolling, organizations frequently succeeded in defying the requirements of higher policy (doctrine or strategy). Thus, doctrine and strategy were not always integrated.

3. The prerequisites for forcing policy integration are a bureaucratic coalition in favor of the policy change and an effective policy handle to enforce it. Both existed on the ABM issue, so ABM policy was integrated; neither existed on the military strategy issue, so strategy and doctrine were not integrated.

The main question, and the one addressed next, is which model best explains what the Soviet Union actually did.


The key question about Soviet military strategy and doctrine under Brezhnev is integration: was Soviet military strategy integrated with the doctrine (and grand strategy) established by political leaders? According to Marshal Andrei Grechko, Soviet defense minister from 1967 to 1974, the Politburo made all key decisions on military policy.(32) In practice, "the Politburo" in this case probably meant the core decision-making group for security policy--the Politburo members who were also members of the Defense Council.(33) In either case, the relevant issue is whether the Politburo's oversight was effective: did civilians succeed in ensuring that military strategy followed the doctrinal principles they set? If they did, Soviet military doctrine and strategy were "integrated," as the military-mission model suggests. But if instead Soviet military leaders devised strategy in accordance with their own bureaucratic interests, then the organizational model is more accurate.

There is substantial evidence that the military's strategy in the late 1960s and the 1970s did not follow the principles of military doctrine set by the Politburo. Instead, military leaders had their own assumptions--which sometimes contradicted doctrine set by the Politburo--on which they based military strategy. The most important civil-military disagreements concerned whether and how an East-West conflict could remain nonnuclear and what the Soviet Union's goals in such a war would be.

The split began in the late 1960s, when Politburo doctrine on the possibility of limited war shifted dramatically. The old line of the early 1960s was last authoritatively stated in 1966, at the Twenty-third Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). According to General Secretary Brezhnev's report, the Soviet Union and her allies would, if necessary, "deal a crushing blow to any aggressors."(34) Defense Minister Rodion Malinovskii's speech at the Congress amplified the message: "Should the imperialists try to unleash a war against the Soviet Union and the other Socialist states, there can be no doubt that our blow will prove annihilating for the organizers of the war."(35) Since all Soviet enemies were "aggressors" in Soviet terms, these formulations assumed that any Soviet enemy would have to be "crushed" or "annihilated"; the policy, that is, left no room for limited war.

The political leadership began changing the line on limited war as early as 1967, when Brezhnev told East European leaders: "Starting in Europe, a new war can become thermonuclear and involve the whole world."(36) The implication was that although a European war could become a world nuclear war, it would not necessarily do so.(37) In the same year Soviet premier Aleksei Kosygin suggested the mission of the Soviet Armed Forces was "to call any instigator of war to order and to compel respect for the boundaries of our great homeland."(38) Clearly, "to compel respect" or "to call [an enemy] to order" can involve less than the complete destruction of that enemy. Some of those statements were obviously aimed at the military: for example, Brezhnev told military academy graduates in 1968 that the Soviet military could "deal a fitting rebuff [not necessarily a 'crushing rebuff'] to any aggressor."(39)

The logic of the new political line was that nay future war had to be kept limited in order to avoid nuclear war--an explicit, high-priority Soviet goal. According to the CPSU program, "nuclear war CANNOT AND SHALL NOT SERVE AS A MEANS OF SETTLING INTERNATIONAL DISPUTES." Therefore, Brezhnev argued in 1967, "the struggle to prevent the threat of a new world war has now become one of the most important conditions for successfully fulfilling the tasks of building socialism and communism."(40)

Even before the shift in civilian views in 1967, military leaders had begun considering the possibility that an East-West war might begin as a conventional war.(41) Most of them flatly disagreed, however, that such a war could remain limited. The 1968 edition of Marshal V. D. Sokolovskii's influential book Military Strategy argued that "the acute class nature" of a "war between the socialist and imperialist camps" would "predetermine the extreme decisiveness of the political and military aims of both sides."(42) Further, he argued, "any armed conflict will inevitably escalate into a general nuclear war if the nuclear powers are drawn into this conflict."(43) Defense Minister Andrei Grechko agreed with this view, asserting in the party journal Kommunist as late as 1971 that "rocket-nuclear weapons will be decisive"--that a major war would certainly be an all-out nuclear war and that conventional operations would be limited to the actions of isolated small units.(44)

In the same month in which Grechko's article was published, Brezhnev's authoritative political report to the Twenty-fourth CPSU Congress officially announced the new, limited-war line. The report averred: "Our glorious armed forces are prepared to repel an enemy attack, no matter what its origin. Any possible aggressor knows that if there is an attempt at a nuclear missile attack on our country, the aggressor will receive an annihilating blow in return."(45) Again, the implication is that both means and ends can be limited: all attacks will be "repelled," but only a "nuclear missile attack" will trigger "an annihilating blow in return." Defense Minister Grechko acquiesced, enunciating a similar line to the Congress: "Our Armed Forces are always ready to punish an aggressor on any territory from which he might dare to violate the borders of our homeland."(46)

But Grechko's capitulation on the "crushing rebuff" formula did not cause Soviet military leaders to concede the real issue at stake--that the means and goals in a future war could realistically be kept limited. One 1972 text written by military officers, Marxism-Leninism on War and the Army, put it this way: "Because of this sharply pronounced class character [of an East-West war! the political and military aims of the sides at war will be decisive and the use of nuclear weapons will lend it an unprecedentedly destructive character."(47) Thus, even after Brezhnev affirmed the new, limited-war doctrine at the Twenty-fourth CPSU Congress, this text reiterated the old doctrine that any war would escalate to a nuclear war with "decisive" goals--that is, an all-out nuclear war.

At first glance, the balance-of-power model seems sufficient to explain this behavior. The model suggests that an offensive declaratory strategy and force posture are useful in creating leverage for coercive diplomacy. This, according to David Finley, was precisely the Soviets' intention.(48) At the same time, regardless of their true beliefs, the Soviets had incentives to deny that war in Europe could be kept limited, in order to undermine NATO's Flexible Response strategy and to maximize the effect of deterrent threats against any use of force by NATO in Europe. Simultaneous insistence that Soviet goals were not aggressive may have been intended as reassurance aimed at avoiding war. Finally, if a conventional war had occurred in Europe, a lightning offensive might have offered the Soviets their best chance of victory in spite of the risks: as Michael MccGwire argues, a purely defensive strategy would have allowed NATO to mobilize its superior industrial capacity to overwhelm the Warsaw Pact in a long war.(49)

These arguments, though powerful, cannot fully explain Soviet policy. First, Soviet statements about their desire to avoid nuclear war, their offensive military strategy, and the unlikelihood of preventing escalation to nuclear war were all made to internal audiences, often in classified settings. These were all genuinely held views, not propaganda or public diplomacy. Second, to the extent that military strategy changed in the same direction as doctrine set by civilians, the strategy changed first. Thus, the process of civilian-led change hypothesized by Posen could not have occurred.

The most direct evidence about the offensive nature of Soviet operational plans comes from the archives of the East German army. According to Lothar Ruhl, the primary Warsaw Pact war plan until 1989 involved a five-pronged attack from East Germany and Czechoslovakia, with the objective of reaching the French Atlantic coast in fourteen days. Ruhl notes that as late as 1988, exercises showed that the East German army (certainly as a result of Soviet orders) was well prepared for offensive operations but totally unprepared--that is, having neither the training nor the engineering equipment--for defensive operations.(50) Obviously, the Warsaw Pact had a one-variant war plan that called for a decisive offensive against NATO. A look at the Soviet military literature of the time corroborates that Soviet planners gave the lion's share of their attention to offensive strategy.

Regarding the likelihood that a conventional war in Europe would lead to nuclear use, the mid-1970s view of lecturers at the General Staff Academy is illustrated by their name for such a war: "War between Several Capitalist and Socialist Nations with the Use of Conventional Weapons and Subsequent Initiation of Limited Use of Nuclear Weapons." They ruled out limited aims: "The war will assume a decisive character by virtue of the intensified struggle to seize the strategic initiative, inflict massive losses on the enemy forces, and expand efforts continuously by moving their reserves from the depth."(51) In other words, these Soviet officers admitted that their plan of conduct for a future war would make it impossible to keep the war limited. And they fully expected that the result would be nuclear use by NATO: "At a crucial and decisive point, when the enemy is about to lose its territory," they stated, "the enemy will resort to using nuclear weapons."(52)

Soviet officers were aware of the dilemma posed by this strategy. Indeed, they conceded the politicians' point that the focus of Soviet policy should be "on preventing nuclear war."(53) Since Soviet military doctrine declared that a world nuclear war must be avoided and that a war in Europe need not escalate into one, the logical conclusion is that Soviet strategy ought to have been aimed at preventing such escalation. The balance-of-power model would reach the same conclusion: the distribution of nuclear weapons technology should have been a strong factor in favor of at least a defensive military option.

The Soviet generals did have an alternative conception open to them: that a war in Europe might be a "local war" (in Soviet terminology), having limited goals and employing limited means. This assumption would have yielded a strategy of starting a war on the defensive, which would minimize the threat of nuclear escalation by minimizing the threat to vital NATO interests and which would allow for attempts to settle the war diplomatically. The military risk could have been contained by limiting the duration of this defensive phase: if negotiations seemed fruitless, an offensive could have been launched before Western industrial power could be brought to bear. Such a plan would have been particularly appropriate given the Soviet fear of a war beginning "accidentally." Especially before 1971, for example, there was always the possibility of an armed clash over Berlin escalating out of control. The Soviets referred to careful conflict management in such cases as a policy of frustrating the adversary's attempts at "provocations." This is the meaning of the civilian leaders' suggestions about limited war: in case of a limited armed clash in Europe, the enemy should be "rebuffed," not destroyed.

But there is no evidence that Soviet military plans included such an option. In fact, the General Staff Academy lectures explicitly rule out the possibility that a war in Europe could be anything but a major war.(54) The Soviet generals insisted that the only way to end a war was through a "decisive offensive."(55) Thus, in spite of Soviet fears of "accidental" war, Soviet military strategy did nothing to reduce the probability of inadvertent war.

The strong offensive bias of Soviet military planning, in combination with the Soviets' interest in preemption and their belief in the aggressiveness of their adversaries, also created crisis instability at the conventional level. If NATO had taken some apparently threatening action in the context of a European crisis--if, for example, NATO had even partially mobilized during the 1968 Czechoslovak crisis--the Soviet leadership might have convinced itself that war was likely. In such circumstances, Politburo leaders might have allowed themselves to be convinced by military arguments that their best chance, given their strategy, was a preemptive conventional attack (the Soviet army was, after all, already mobilized). In this sense, Soviet strategy was aptly described by Richard Ned Lebow as "the Schlieffen Plan revisited"(56)--a strategy that, if implemented, would have dragged the Soviet Union into a war the political leaders would have preferred to avoid.

In sum, while Soviet theory demanded that the goals of a war be determined by political leaders and set out in military doctrine, in practice Soviet military leaders made their own assumptions literally without reference to the views of the political leaders. Military strategy was based on the generals' views and remained based on those views in spite of their growing rift with the military doctrine expressed by Politburo leaders.

In the late 1980s the Soviet foreign and defense ministers confirmed this rift. According to then Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, speaking in 1988, "One of the most unfavorable phenomena of the period of stagnation ... was the lack of agreement between our military and political directions."(57) Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov elaborated on this view a year later in the party theoretical journal, Kommunist:

A certain disjunction between the political and military-technical aspects of military doctrine was permitted [under Brezhnev]. While in the political dimension [our] military doctrine was defensive, ... on the military-technical plane stress was placed on decisive offensive operations in case of the unleashing of war against the USSR and its allies....

In other words, in effect the defensive thrust of the political aspect of doctrine was in definite contradiction with the tenet of its military-technical aspect on offensive actions.(58)

As Yazov notes, the source of the "contradiction" was a military strategy more offensive than the doctrine on which it was supposedly based.(59)

This contradiction is a classic case in which "where you stand depends on where you sit." Civilian leaders, focusing on the political goals of a possible war, apparently recognized that nuclear war would destroy at least the prize (Western Europe) if not the combatants as well. Hence, they pushed for limiting the stakes of a war. For military leaders, in contrast, an offensive strategy maximized a number of military values, even if it made escalation more likely. As Jack Snyder points out, an offensive strategy affords the military greater autonomy from political interference. In defensive fighting, by contrast, "the whole point of fighting is to negotiate a diplomatic solution ... [so] political considerations--and hence politicians--have to figure in operational decisions." An offensive strategy also justifies a larger military budget for all military services and offers the military heightened prestige and an enhanced self-image. In addition, it simplifies the planning process: seizing the initiative means imposing one's own plan on the situation without having to worry about endless variants that depend on enemy action.(60)

In this case, Soviet military doctrine and strategy are best explained by the organizational model, which hypothesizes the discrepancy in policy. The military-mission model, by contrast, assumes that military leaders accepted Politburo doctrine;(61) it therefore cannot explain why the political leadership wanted a strategy designed to keep a war limited while the military planners insisted on a strategy that would ensure escalation. And the civilian intervention expected by Posen's model did not take place.

Further, organizational proess can explain how the discrepancy lasted. Inside the military, Rosen's model applies: military leaders innovated precisely as much as they wished, resisting civilian calls for further changes. While the concept of civilian-set doctrine was useful as the conceptual part of a policy handle, civilian leaders lacked an organization capable of monitoring and enforcing change in military strategy.(62) The process of building consensus prevented them from creating one. Fedor Burlatskii, who was a Central Committee staff member in the mid-1960s, explains the consensus-building process: "It was under [Brezhnev] that the practice of very complicated agreements flourished so abundantly, requiring dozens of signatures on documents, which brought the decisions adopted to a standstill or entirely distorted their meaning."(63) In the case of military doctrine, political leaders were apparently willing to accommodate to a military strategy that "entirely distorted the meaning" of their preferred doctrine because maintaining peace in their ruling coalition was more important. The military presumably insisted on such autonomy as a reaction against what it considered Khrushchev's "harebrained" meddling in military strategy.(64)


According to the military mission-model, the Soviet Union signed the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty in 1972 because Soviet military leaders believed it would improve the Soviet strategic position. The Soviet logic, in this view, was that restricting American missile defenses would help the Soviet Union in its strategy of preempting American strategic nuclear forces. Essential to the military-mission argument is the presumption that the Soviet military leadership accepted this logic. The organizational model hypothesizes that a bureaucratic coalition in favor of the ABM treaty was assembled but that the military leadership would not have joined the coalition, since most parts of the Soviet military had interests opposing any arms control.

The evidence suggests that the Soviet military leadership did in fact vigorously oppose the treaty. Grechko, by most accounts, strongly opposed the entire SALT enterprise.(65) He was still publicly defending the ABM mission as late as 1970--that is, after the Soviet delegation to SALT had agreed to ABM limitations--so his opposition to arms control clearly extended to the ABM treaty.(66) The Soviet military press was as unsupportive of SALT as censorship allowed, generally remaining silent about the talks throughout the 1970s, and occasionally deleting positive references to SALT when quoting speeches by such figures as Foreign Minister Gromyko.(67) Grechko and General Staff Chief Viktor Kulikov did each make a statement to the Supreme Soviet (the old rubber-stamp Soviet parliament) in support of the SALT I accords. But those statements, made during the one-sided "debate" over ratifying the treaty, appear to have been grudging acquiescence.(68) Grechko, in fact, never repeated the arguments he made to the Supreme Soviet.

The positions of these and many other key actors accord perfectly with their organizational interests. Grechko's opposition to SALT makes sense in terms of defending his organization's autonomy: he did not want civilians meddling in military policy. The military's Main Political Administration, charged with defending ideological purity, had an institutional interest in doubting the trustworthiness of the "imperialists," so it supplied some of the most vociferous Soviet opponents of any arms control.(69)

The most vigorous opponent of ABM limitations was Pavel F. Batitskii, chief of the National Air Defense Forces (or, in the Russian abbreviation, PVO). This is as the organizational model would predict, since part of the PVO's essential core was at stake: before the ABM treaty, the PVO defined its essential core mission as defense against "air-space attacks," that is, defense against aircraft and ballistic missiles.(70) Batitskii continued to defend his service's ABM mission against the treaty into 1969--well after most discussion of ABM had been shut off.(71) Indeed, even in 1976, after the ABM treaty had been signed and the issue settled, Batitskii endorsed a call to pursue the ABM mission.(72)

Other military leaders were less hostile to limitations on ABMs. Strategic Rocket Forces chief Krylov hinted that he opposed arms control generally,(73) in keeping with his interest in avoiding limitations on ICBMs, which his service controlled. But, in keeping with his interest in promoting the effectiveness of ballistic missiles, Krylov claimed that missiles were "practically invulnerable in flight."(74) This claim disputed the PVO's assertions that ABM defenses were effective, and it thereby undercut the PVO's reason for opposing ABM limitations. Civil defense chief Chuikov also argued that ABM could be of only limited effectiveness, in order to argue that civil defense was necessary.(75)

Significantly, the key institution charged with military policy analysis--the general staff--was split on the issue of ABMs. Those who favored limits had a wide range of reasons for doing so. One general wrote that an ABM race could lead to crisis instability (without using the term); another basically argued that ABMs were not cost effective at the margin.(76) Some general staff officers (and scientists) worried privately about the technical capabilities of the Soviet system, especially after a series of tests in 1968 in which their system failed to intercept simulated targets obscured by decoys and chaff. Others feared that the Americans had a lead in exotic technologies for ABM.(77) What they had in common was an interest in using their organizational strength in military policy analysis to expand their power over a subordinate instituion, the PVO.

Those officers associated with the general staff who opposed ABM limitations generally had a different function: they were less analysts than war planners, concerned about Soviet war-fighting capability. The clearest example is former general staff chief Sokolovskii, who wrote in the 1968 edition of his famous Military Strategy: "Without the effective conduct of [ABM] operations, successful conduct of modern war ... [is] impossible."(78) Some of them never changed their minds: as late as May 1972 the general staff journal Military Thought published a book review clearly unsympathetic to ABM limitations.(79)

Thus, on the issue of the ABM treaty, the difference between the balance-of-power and military-mission models becomes important. Posen's balance-of-power model is correct: in a tense international situation the civilian leadership simply forced a policy change on the military. The military-mission explanation is clearly incorrect: while some Soviet officers were supportive of ABM limitations, the Soviet military leadership as a whole was not.

The organizational model provides the best overall explanation of the opposing views.(80) For it to explain the decision fully, however, the model must show how a political coalition in favor of ABM limitations could have been constructed--a coalition willing and able to deprive the PVO of an essential core mission. It must also explain the nature of the policy handle used to enforce the decision. At first glance, an organizational explanation seems impossible: where were the organizations with an interest in the ABM treaty?

The important prior question is which organizations mattered. According to one participant in the process, the Soviet government set up a special commission to determine arms control policy. Chaired by Dmitrii Ustinov (the Central Committee secretary who supervised military industry), the commission had as members the chiefs of the Defense Ministry (A. Grechko), the Foreign Ministry (A. Gromyko), the KGB (Yu. Andropov), the Academy of Sciences (M. Keldysh), the Military-Industrial Commission of the Council of Ministers (L. Smirnov), and the Central Committee's Department for Military Industry (I. Serbin). According to the participant, the Politburo generally accepted the decisions of the commission.(81)

Two of these organizations clearly supported ABM limitations. The first was the Foreign Ministry, which had a strong interest in expanding the role of its essential core mission of international negotiations into the heart of national security policy. Indeed, Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko was an early and vigorous advocate of arms control.(82) The other organization with some interest in arms control was the Academy of Sciences. Academicians expected arms control to give them an opportunity to influence national security policy, while the detente associated with arms control would have afforded them new opportunities for foreign travel and expanding their international contacts.(83) According to one participant, Academician Keldysh's role was crucial in the first respect: he used his scientific credentials as a rocket scientist to persuade key commission and Politburo members that ABM limitations were in the best interests of the Soviet Union.(84)

All of the other institutions represented on the commission were more ambivalent about arms control. The Defense Ministry, as noted above, was split, though the defense minister was hostile. This fact led to some interesting situations, including some in which military officers leaked Grechko's objections on particular issues--along with information designed to refute those objections--to the Foreign Ministry.(85) Military industry also had mixed interests: the construction bureaus and ministries connected with making ABM components may have opposed limitations so they could continue to get ABM-connected orders, while those not so connected probably had a budgetary interest in supporting limits. Similarly, arms control negotiations presented the KGB with both clear opportunities to collect information and clear risks that the Americans might collect some.

Thus early on, two commission members favored ABM limits, one opposed them, and the rest--the KGB and military-industrial representatives--were open to persuasion. Given the deep splits in the one organization opposing ABM limits, including military officers' support against their own minister, it is not surprising that the forces favoring limitations turned out to be more persuasive.

Furthermore, Politburo members had the deciding voice on these issues: they influenced the commission's recommendations and their approval was required. As it turns out, the three Politburo members most concerned with national security issues before 1973--Brezhnev, Kosygin, and Podgornyi--also became the core of the pro--arms control coalition in the Politburo, which seems to have formed around 1970. Brezhnev was then publicly arguing that "practical steps in the direction of disarmament are possible and must be taken."(86) Indeed, as early as 1968 Brezhnev was impressing even on military audiences that "our country will continue to advocate limitations on the arms race."(87) Kosygin, the premier, was arguing in similar terms in 1970, saying, "It is now very important for the nuclear powers ... to do every thing possible to stop the build-up of nuclear arms."(88) The third member of the ruling troika, Nikolai Podgornyi, chairman of the presidium of the Supreme Soviet, was also one of the most vigorous advocates of arms control in the Politburo.(89)

But where are these Politburo leaders' bureaucratic interests in ABM limitations? They had none per se; but the ABM treaty was essential to detente, which key Politburo leaders had a strong interest in pursuing.(90) For Kosygin and Brezhnev, the bureaucratic advantage was the transfer of technology from the West. According to Bruce Parrott, both Kosygin and Brezhnev were pessimistic about the Soviet Union's ability to compete technologically with the West--either militarily (as on ABM) or in industrial matters.(91) Running the economy was Kosygin's bureaucratic responsbility, and technological innovation was his biggest headache, so access to Western technology could clearly serve his interests. Brezhnev's interest was to prove his ability as an "artful synthesizer" who could create a policy that would address the problem of technological innovation. Thus, detente and the associated arms control served the interests of both men.

Arms control also provided the policy handle for enforcing the Politburo's decision on ABM. First, the arms control process provided the Soviet leadership with an opportunity to move some decision making about force structure out of the military's exclusive domain. The trick was to turn arms control into a diplomatic issue on which other diplomatic interests--those connected with detente--depended. Hence, the leadership could comfortably overrule military hesitation. Further, the verification provisions in arms control guarnateed that implementation would remain a diplomatic issue. Most significantly, the commission on arms control and its successor organizations provided an effective institutional mechanism to ensure bureaucratic compliance. Once the force structure decision not to build more ABM systems was implemented, the military leadership had to adjust its strategy accordingly.

On balance, then, the organizational model provides a sufficient explanation of the ABM decision, and a more accurate one than that offered by the military-mission model. To be sure, it does not explain everything: there are some details that can only be explained in psychological terms. Kosygin, for example, did not seem to understand the logic of ABM limits in 1967 but subsequently came to advocate such limits. This development fits the learning theory model of increasing "cognitive complexity."(92) But as Jeff Checkel points out in explaining Gorbachev's "new thinking"--when much more learning occurred than in the ABM case--learning theory is only useful as a complement to organizational and balance-of-power type theories; alone they explain very little.(93) In the ABM case, learning and other psychological theories explain a few interesting details; the organizational model explains what happened.


In the late 1970s and 1980s military-mission theorists gave the impression that the Soviet system had produced a national security policy that was better integrated than the compromised and logrolled Western policies. That impression was false: Soviet military policy at that time failed to integrate doctrine and strategy effectively. The doctrine set by the political leadership was aimed at avoiding nuclear war, but Soviet military strategy made war in Europe more likely and would have virtually ensured nuclear conflict had such a war broken out. Soviet military policy, in short, was not just somewhat incoherent; military strategy was aimed at a secondary objective (the conquest of Western Europe) at the expense of the primary objective of military doctrine (minimizing the likelihood of the nuclear devastation of the Soviet Union).

Only the organizational model can explain this contradiction, as the result of bureaucratic interest and logrolling in the process of making military policy. The military-mission model, with its assumption that the communist system of political control largely obviated bureaucratic distortions, is simply too credulous about Soviet claims that their system was monolithic and integrated. Even in the area of military security, Soviet policy-making is better understood as the result of political compromise than of rational calculation.

Posen's balance-of-power model--which holds that in the face of severe external threat states can force innovation in military doctrine--also fails in this case. The stakes facing the Soviet Union in case of war were ultimate, yet its military doctrine (or strategy, in Soviet parlance) did not change to minimize the liklihood of the ultimate disaster, nuclear war. Furthermore, the fact that even the highly authoritarian Brezhnev regime was unable to effect doctrinal change in the tense predetente cold war environment is a serious blow to Posen's theory of civilian-led doctrinal change.

Nevertheless, in line with Posen's model, civilians did succeed in forcing a change in doctrine to accommodate the ABM treaty. Rosen's theory is too pessimistic in this case: leadership from a top-ranking innovator in the military was not required. At the same time, the continuing hostility of military leaders to arms control illustrates the weakness of the military-mission explanation: organizational interest was a better predictor of the positions of most leaders, whether civilian or military.

The concept of a policy handle can explain why Posen's model is accurate in one case but not in the other. Political leaders were successful in forcing policy integration on the ABM issue because they had an effective policy handle--arms control. They failed on the limited war issue because they lacked an effective policy handle. Budget cuts would not work, because the leadership probably wanted an offensive military capability; leaders therefore had no way of forcing a more defensive strategy on the military. The concept of military doctrine provided the intellectual basis for a policy handle, but the Soviet system lacked an institutional mechanism to wield it: there were no civilians in the Soviet Defense Ministry, and the Defense Council lacked the staff support necessary to enable it to act as an institutional counterweight to the Defense Ministry.


Because Russia's military leadership and government structure were largely carried over from the Soviet system, many processes and expectations have been carried over as well. Thus, Russia has kept the Soviet definition of military doctrine, and the debate over the content of that doctrine shows the same kinds of divergence between political and military considerations that characterized Soviet doctrine. On the civilian side, President Boris Yeltsin and Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev call for "partnership and allied relations with the Western countries."(94) The draft Russian military doctrine includes a similar statement, but it characterizes the main security threat to Russia as the kind of large-scale, high-technology conventional offensive that only NATO could launch, and it labels the maintenance of NATO's military forces as a "source of military danger."(95) Marshal Yevgennyi Shaposhnikov, the former commander in chief of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) strategic forces and later secretary of Yeltsin's Security Council, goes even further, explicitly arguing that the CIS should not align with the West but rather should act as a counterweight to it.(96) Thus, as in the Soviet case, military plans are based on goals that run counter to the preferences of civilian leaders.

Meanwhile, the draft Russian military doctrine ignores the threats considered most significant by the political leaders. Foreign Minister Kozyrev argues that the main threats to Russian security are from "regional conflicts," that is, ethnic conflicts in the former Soviet Union.(97) Some reform-oriented military officers have come to similar conclusions.(98) The draft doctrine, however, says nothing about doctrine or strategy in such conflicts, in spite of the fact that Russian military forces were and are involved in several of them. While the generals' insistence on paying some attention to large-scale war makes sense--a falling-out with NATO is certainly possible--the Russian military's stubborn resistance to thinking seriously about low-intensity conflict is obviously inappropriate.(99) That resistance can be attributed to organizational interest: the Russian military does not want to be diverted from its essential core mission of large-scale, high-technology war. This behavior conforms to a pattern among military organizations: as Andrew Krepinevich has shown, as a way of defending its preferred doctrine, the United States Army in the Vietnam era also resisted developing a counterinsurgency doctrine.(100)

Another way in which the Russian draft doctrine undermines Russian foreign policy is by retaining the option of preemptive conventional attack in the event Russia is threatened. Further, it implies that the stationing of NATO troops on Russia's border--for example, in the Baltic states--might be sufficient to provoke such an attack. As a result, were a crisis to break out between Russia and the West, Russian military doctrine would undermine crisis stability by encoding in Russian military thinking the perception that Russia could gain by striking first.

The difference between military behavior on these issues and on strategic arms control is striking. The institutionalized processes of arms control decision makiing seem still to be in operation, acting as an effective policy handle for civilian control. At the same time, the process ensures that military views are considered, and so military leaders can accept the result even where they do not agree with it. As a result, even though the START II agreement is extremely controversial in Russia, Russian military leaders such as Defense Minister Grachev and Chief of the General Staff Kolesnikov have steadfastly supported it.(101)

Civilian control over military operaitons in the newly independent republics may be much weaker: while Yeltsin insists that "we must coordinate our policy among the [CIS] states purely on the basis of treaties,"(102) Russian military leaders in Moldova and the Transcaucasus have been intervening in local ethnic conflicts without or contrary to civilian orders. For instance, General Alexander Lebed, commander of the Fourteenth Russian Army, openly supplies Russian separatists in Moldova's "Dniester Republic" region while advocating that the region expand its territory and be annexed by Russia.(103) Yeltsin's policy, by contrast, is supposedly based on the principle of maintaining Moldova's territorial integrity, and there is even evidence that Yeltsin opposed Lebed's appointment.(104) Meanwhile, the Russian Army also refuses to leave Georgia despite repeated Georgian charges that it is interfering in Georgian internal affairs (especially through aid to armed separatists in the Georgian region of Abkhazia) and despite repeated Georgian demands that it withdraw.(105) None of these actions is compatible with the main thrust of Russian foreign policy, which is ostensibly aimed at accommodation with the other former Soviet republics and with the West. These problems of operational control illustrate the value and the limits of the organizational model for Russian military policy. Its value is to highlight the organizational interests at stake. Russian military leaders do not want their troops withdrawn from Moldova and the Transcaucasus, because there is no housing for them in Russia. Commanders in Moldova are also worried about the morale of locally recruited soldiers who wish to defend their communities. Commanders in both places are grabbing for as much autonomy--among the highest of organizational interests--as possible.

Nevertheless, these considerations do not fully explain the army's behavior. The reason for the military leaders' policy is not only their bureaucratic interest but also their policy preference--the reconstruction of the Soviet empire. Moreover, the policy process is no longer a purely bureaucratic matter. In authoritarian societies such as the former Soviet Union, the only interests with power are those represented in the Party and government bureaucracies, so policy is made in a bureaucratic tug-of-war. In open societies such as Yeltsin's Russia, however, there are powerful opposition interests--political parties, social movements, and (in the past and probably in the future) in parliament--that operate outside government bureaucracies. Thus, while a pure organizational model is sufficient for explaining military politics in bureaucratized, authoritarian systems, military policy in open systems must be explained in a broader context, using what Robert Art refers to as a "first wave" or "policy via politics" approach.(106)

In Yeltsin's Russia dissident hard-line military leaders--some in formal organizations such as the banned Officers' Union--are more powerful than they had been in Brezhnev's USSR because they can look for support from powerful, like-minded groups outside the government. The coalition of hard-line officers and opposition leaders is capable of preventing the government from exerting effective civilian control. Many of the opposition groups, for example, call for expansion of Russia's territory, especially to Abkhazia in Georgia, Ukraine's Crimea, and the Dniestr region of Moldova. The military has policies aimed at gaining control of these territories; opposition propaganda can deter civilian control over those policies.

Some of these Russian military policies--an anti-NATO doctrine that allows preemption and open interference in ethnic conflicts outside Russia--are significant because they are so objectionable to the West. If Western countries begin to find Russian military policy sufficiently obnoxious, Russia will lose the outside support on which Yeltsion's reform strategy depends. At the same time, the opposition gains from military aggressiveness no matter what the government does. If the government accepts the opposition's expansionist agenda--and there is evidence that it may be doing so(107)--its pro-Western policy will be discredited by the Western reaction. If Russian foreign policy works at cross-purposes with the military's actions, it will be ineffective and can be attacked as weak. And again the government is discredited. Thus, the future of Russian reform may well depend on the government's ability to establish firm civilian control over military strategy and operations.

To establish such control, Russia will have to create institutions capable of using military doctrine as an effective policy handle. The most obvious alternatives are for Russia to create a civilian-run defense ministry or national security council system, or both. In any case, the requirement is that the system combine military expertise and authoritative control by top-level civilian officials. To date, such a system does not exist: while Russia has established a security council, it does not seem to have the institutional muscle to be effective.

The ABM case shows (and the evidence on START II suggests) that arms control agreements can contribute to the solution. From the perspective of the West, continuing arms control negotiations have the benefit--regardless of whether any agreements are reached--of maintaining the arms control process as an effective policy handle for civilian control in Russia. The West might be able to help the Russian government create a policy handle to control military operations by beginning detailed negotiations on Russian military behavior in such places as Moldova and Georgia. While diplomatic pressure might put President Yeltsin in an awkward political position, the negotiating process would create a policy handle, redefining the issue and forcing the creation of an institutionalized Russian policy process for dealing with it. Yeltsin might then be able to use that process to improve his control over Russia's military.

(1)This approach was first proposed by Timothy Colton. See Colton, Commissars, Commanders, and Civilian Authority: The structure of Soviet Military Politics (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979).

(2)See, e.g., John W. R. Lepingwell, "Soviet Civil-Military Relations and the August Coup," World Politics 44 (July 1992); and Stephen M. Meyer, "How the Threat (and the Coup) Collapsed: The Politicization of the Soviet Military," International Security 16 (Winter 1991--92).

(3)For an excellent theoretical discussion of this point, see Charles L. Glaser, "Political Consequences of Military Strategy: Expanding and Refining the Spiral and Deterrence Models," World Politics 44 (July 1992).

(4)Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1984), 58.

(5)Kenneth Waltz makes the same point. See Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1979), 118.

(6)Posen (fn. 4), 74--75.

(7)Rosen, Winning the Next War (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991).

(8)Civilian incentives to alter military policy were even higher in the Khrushchev period (1954--64); as the model would predict, Khrushchev was infamous for his "interference" in strategic planning. See Thomas W. Wolfe, Soviet Strategy at the Crossroads (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964). The current study focuses on the Brezhnev period because there is less agreement on the role of the civilian leadership in setting military policy in that period.

(9)Leonid Brezhnev, "For Strengthening the Solidarity of Communists, for a New Upswing in the Anti-Imperialist Struggle" (Speech to International Conference of Communist and Workers' Parties, Pravda, June 8, 1969, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 21 [July 2, 1969]).

(10)William D. Jackson, "Soviet Images of the U.S. as Nuclear Adversary, 1969--1979," World Politics 33 (July 1981), 625.

(11)Posen (fn. 4), 75.

(12)Prominent works by military-mission theorists include Robert P. Berman and John C. Baker, Soviet Strategic Forces: Requirements and Respones (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1984); David S. Yost, Soviet Ballistic Missile Defense and the Western Alliance (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988); and Stephen M. Meyer, Soviet Theater Nuclear Forces, Adelphi Papers no. 187--88 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1984), pts. 1, 2.

(13)The Soviet use of the term "doctrine" was significantly different from Western definitions. In Western usage, doctrine refers to a strategic or tactical approach; in Soviet usage, it referred to fundamental issues of grand strategy.

(14)On the role of the general staff, see Kenneth Currie, "Soviet General Staff's New Role," Problems of Communism 33 (March--April 1984); and Stephen M. Meyer, "Civilian and Military Influence in Managing the Arms Race in the U.S.S.R.," in Robert J. Art, Vincent Davis, and Samuel P. Huntington, eds., Reorganizing America's Defense (London: Pergamon-Brassey's, 1985).

(15)In principle, most military-mission theorists argue that organizational constraints are included in the military-mission model. In practice, however, consideration of these organizational constraints is usually limited to recognition of Soviet technological limitations. See, e.g., Berman and Baker (fn. 12).

(16)Raymond Garthoff suggests a model of the Soviet military policy process very similar to the process of the balance-of-power model, with its emphasis on the role of the political leadership in policy change and on the importance of foreign developments as the motivation for such policy change. See Raymond L. Garthoff, "Mutual Deterrence, Parity and Strategic Arms Limitation in Soviet Policy," in Derek Leebaert, ed., Soviet Military Thinking (London: Allen and Unwin, 1981). Garthoff's model is not discussed here because his interpretation of the content of Soviet strategy is incompatible with actual Soviet policy. For a complete discussion, see Stuart Kaufman, "The Politics of Soviet Strategic Defense: Political Strategies, Organizational Politics, and Soviet Strategic Thought" (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1991).

(17)Regarding the change in Soviet strategy, see John G. Hines, Phillip A. Petersen, and Notra Trulock III, "Soviet Military Theory from 1945--2000: Implications for NATO," Washington Quarterly 9 (Fall 1986); and Michael MccGwire, Military Objectives in Soviet Foreign Policy (Washinton, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1987).

(18)Kimberly Marten Zisk, "Soviet Reactions to Shifts in U.S. and NATO Military Doctrine in Europe: The Defense Policy Community and Innovation" (Ph.D. diss., Stanford University, 1991).

(19)Richard Pipes, "Why the Soviets Think They Can Fight and Win a Nuclear War," Commentary, July 1977. Another prominent presentation of the nuclear victory model is William T. Lee and Richard F. Starr, Soviet Military Policy since World War II (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1986). A nuclear victory model of Soviet strategic defense is Michael J. Deane, Strategic Defense in Soviet Strategy (Miami, Fla.: Advanced International Studies Institute, 1980).

(20)Hines, Petersen, and Trulock (fn. 17) remains the best summary of that evidence. The General Staff Academy lectures are published in Ghulam Dastagir Wardak, The Voroshilov Lectures, vol. 1, ed. Graham Hall Turbiville, Jr. (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1989).

(21)See Robert Jervis, The Logic of Images in International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), 234--35; and George H. Quester, "On the Identification of Real and Pretended Communist Military Doctrine," Journal of Conflict Resolution 10 (June 1966), 172--79.

(22)For an argument that war prevention was an important element in Soviet foreign policy, see David Holloway, "Military Power and Political Purpose in Soviet Policy," Daedalus 109 (Fall 1980).

(23)See, e.g., Berman and Baker (fn. 12), 149--50.

(24)Some classic discussions of organization theory include Graham T. Allison, "Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis," American Political Science Review 63 (September 1969); Richard Cyert and James March, A Behavioral Theory of the Firm (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963); and James March and Herbert Simon, Organizations (New York: John Wiley, 1958). Some studies that emphasize the organizational explanation of Soviet military policy are Edward L. Warner III, The Military in Contemporary Soviet Politics (New York: Praeger, 1977); Samuel B. Payne, The Soviet Union and SALT (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1980); and Dale Herspring, The Soviet High Command, 1967--89: Personalities and Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).

(25)The "essential core" of an organization is defined as the plans, procedures, and capabilities that are part of both the "organizational essence" and the "technical core," so generalizations about both are valid concerning the "essential core." On organizational essence, see Morton H. Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1974). Technical core is discussed in James D. Thompson, Organizations in Action (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967). For further elaboration, see Kaufman (fn. 16), chap. 3.

(26)Posen (fn. 4), 47--50.

(27)Huntington, The Common Defense (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961). For a roughly analogous discussion of Soviet military policy, see Jack Snyder, "The Gorbachev Revolution: A Waning of Soviet Expansionism?" International Security 12 (Winter 1987--88).

(28)Anthony Downs, Inside Bureaucracy (Boston: Little, Brown, 1967), 200--201; and James Q. Wilson, Bureaucracy (New York: Basic Books, 1989), 224--25.

(29)Wilson (fn. 28), 225.

(30)Ross, "Coalition Maintenance in the Soviet Union," World Politics 32 (January 1980), 259--62.

(31)Breslauer, Khrushchev and Brezhnev as Leaders (London: Allen and Unwin, 1982).

(32)Grechko, "Report by Marshal of the Soviet Union A. A. Grechko, USSR Minister of Defense," Krasnaia Zvezda, March 28, 1973, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 25 (April 25, 1973).

(33)See, e.g., Dimitri K. Simes, "The Politics of Defense in the Soviet Union: Brezhnev's Era," in Jiri Valenta and William Potter, eds., Soviet Decisionmaking for National Security (London: Allen and Unwin, 1984), 77.

(34)Brezhnev, "Report of the CPSU Central Committee to the Twenty-third Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union," Pravda, March 30, 1966, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 18 (April 13, 1966), 6.

(35)Malinovskii, "Speech by Comrade R. Ya. Malinovskii," Pravda, April 3, 1966, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 18 (May 18, 1966), 12.

(36)Speech reprinted in Leonid I. Brezhnev, Leninskim Kursom (On a Leninist course) (Moscow: Politizdat, 1970), 2:9.

(37)This implication is noted by Herspring (fn. 24), 58.

(38)Aleksei N. Kosygin, "On a Leninist Course," Pravda, March 7, 1967, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 19 (March 29, 1967), 3.

(39)Brezhnev, "Loyalty to the Homeland, the Party and the People," Pravda, July 9, 1968, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 20 (July 31, 1968), 11.

(40)Both quotations are from A. S. Milovidov and V. G. Kozlov, eds., The Philosophical Heritage of V. I. Lenin and Problems of Contemporary War, trans. U.S. Air Force (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1972), 36--37; emphasis in translation.

(41)For good discussions of the shift in military thinking, see Hines, Petersen, and Trulock (fn. 17); and Zisk (fn. 18).

(42)Sokolovskii, ed., Soviet Military Strategy, 3d ed. (1968), trans. and ed. Harriett Fast Scott (London: Macdonald and Jane's, 1975), 187.

(43)Ibid., 195.

(44)Grechko, "KPSS i vooruzhennie sily," Kommunist, no. 4 (March 1971), 45--46; emphasis added.

(45)Brezhnev, "The Report of the CPSU Central Committee to the Twenty-fourth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union," Pravda, March 31, 1971, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 23 (May 4, 1971), 5.

(46)Grechko, "Speech by Comrade A. A. Grechko, USSR Minister of Defense," Pravda, April 3, 1971, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 23 (May 18, 1971), 23.

(47)S. Tyushkevich and N. Sushko, eds., Marxism--Leninism on War and the Army (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972), 73, 116.

(48)Finley, "Conventional Arms in Soviet Foreign Policy," World Politics 33 (October 1980).

(49)MccGwire (fn. 17), 76.

(50)Ruhl, "Offensive Defence in the Warsaw Pact," Survival 33 (September--October 1991), 442--50.

(51)Wardak (fn. 20), 1:72--73.

(52)Ibid., 1:74.

(53)Tyushkevich and Sushko (fn. 47), 73.

(54)Wardak (fn. 20), 1:77.

(55)S. N. Kozlov, The Officer's Handbook (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1971), trans. U.S. Air Force (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1972), 65.

(56)Lebow, "The Soviet Offensive in Europe: The Schlieffen Plan Revisited?" International Security 9 (Spring 1985).

(57)Quoted in David Holloway, "Gorbachev's New Thinking," Foreign Affairs 68 (America and the World, 1988--89), 72.

(58)Quoted in Raymond L. Garthoff, Deterrence and the Revolution in Soviet Military Dotrine (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1990), 160.

(59)Both Yazov and Shevardnadze clearly made these arguments in order to defend the new thinking about foreign affairs, which eliminated this contradiction. Nevertheless, they would not have made that particular argument in favor of the new thinking unless they also believed it.

(60)Snyder, The Ideology of the Offensive (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1984), 25--30.

(61)One can hypothesize a cross between the military-mission and organizational models that asserts that the military, led by the general staff and the Defense Ministry, acted as a single organizational interest, maximizing military interests at the expense of civilian control. Such a model would explain the outcome of this doctrinal dispute, but it could not explain the ABM case.

(62)Meyer (fn. 2); Currie (fn. 14), 39.

(63)Burlatskii, "Brezhnev and the End of the Thaw," Literaturnaia Gazeta, September 14, 1988, in FBIS-SOV, September 19, 1988, 71.

(64)The classic account is Wolfe (fn. 8).

(65)See Herspring (fn. 24), 75.

(66)Andrei A. Grechko, "In Battle Born," Pravda, February 23, 1970, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 22 (March 24, 1970), 23.

(67)Payne (fn. 24), 64.

(68)See Thomas W. Wolfe, The SALT Experience (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1979), 21.

(69)Payne (fn. 24), 7.

(70)See Batitskii, "Development of the Tactics and Operational Art of the Country's Air Defense (PVO) Troops," trans. Central Intelligence Agency, Military Thought, no. 10 (October 1967), 28--40.

(71)Batitskii, "Rukovodstvo voiskami--na prochnuiu nauchnuiu osnovu," Vestnik protivovozdushnoi oborony, no. 7 (July 1969), 2--10; Raymond L. Garthoff, "BMD and East-West Relations," in Ashton B. Carter and David N. Schwartz, eds., Ballistic Missile Defense (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1984), 299--300.

(72)Preface in G. V. Zimin, ed., Razvitie Protivovozdushnoi oborony (Development of antiair defense) (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1976).

(73)See Warner (fn. 24), 236.

(74)Nikolai Krylov, "Raketnye voiska strategicheskogo naznacheniia," Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal, no. 7 (July 1967).

(75)Marshal of the Soviet Union V. Chuikov, "V interesakh zashchity rodiny," Pravda, February 23, 1968, p 3.

(76)V. I. Zemskov, "Wars of the Modern Era," Military Thought, no. 5 (May 1969), makes the argument about crisis instability; I. I. Anureyev, Oruzbie protivoraketnoi i protivokosmicheskoi oborony (Weapons of antirocket and antispace defense) (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1971), discusses cost effectiveness.

(77)Based on interviews with former Soviet general staff officers who worked on ABM issues, Moscow, June--July 1992.

(78)Sokolovskii (fn. 42), 284--85.

(79)K. Provorov, "Missile and Space Offensive Weapons and the Problems of Countering Them," trans. Central Intelligence Agency, Military Thought, no. 5 (May 1972), 119--25.

(80)Of course, the model cannot explain the views of every actor. Marshal Bagramyan, the commander of Rear Services, for example, expressed optimism about the prospects for ABM, whereas Marshal Moskalenko, the inspector general (and former PVO officer), was more pessimistic. Neither stand clearly accords with any bureaucratic interest. See I. Kh. Bagramyan, "Bagramyan Speech," in FBIS-SOV, February 23, 1967, CC5; K. S. Moskalenko, "Prazdnik pobedy," Trud, May 9, 1968.

(81)Interview with former senior civilian official involved in the process, Moscow, July 1992.

(82)See, e.g., Andrei A. Gromyko, "On the International Situation and the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union," Pravda, June 28, 1968, trans. In Current Digest of the Soviet Press 20 (July 31, 1968), 12.

(83)See Payne (fn. 24) for a discussion of the role of academicians in general.

(84)Interview (fn. 81).


(86)Brezhnev (fn. 36), 1:541.

(87)Brezhnev (fn. 39), 11.

(88)Reprinted in Alexei N. Kosygin, Selected Speeches and Writings (New York: Pergamon, 1981), 66.

(89)Peter M. E. Volten, Brezhnev's Peace Program (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1982), 227.

(90)Jack Snyder (fn. 27) argues that such a "logrolled coalition" best explains detente under Khrushchev and Brezhnev.

(91)Parrott, Politics and Technology in the USSR (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1983), 186--89, 233--35; and idem, The Soviet Union and Ballistic Missile Defense (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press/Foreign Policy Institute, 1987), 31.

(92)For a discussion of Kosygin's early view, see Garthoff (fn. 71), 295--96. For definitions of different kinds of learning, see Philip E. Tetlock, "Learning in U.S. and Soviet Foreign Policy: In Search of an Elusive Concept," in George W. Breslauer and Philip E. Tetlock, eds., Learning in U.S. and Soviet Foreign Policy (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1991).

(93)Jeff Checkel, "Ideas, Institutions, and the Gorbachev Foreign Policy Revolution," World Politics 45 (January 1993).

(94)Kozyrev, "In the Republic's National Interests," Rossiiskiye vesti, December 3, 1992, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 44 (December 30, 1992), 15; Boris Yeltsin, "Speech by B. N. Yeltsin," Rossiiskaia gazeta, October 7, 1992, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 44 (November 4, 1992), 5.

(95)"Fundamentals of Russian Military Doctrine," Voennaia Mysl', special edition, May 1992, trans. U.S. Joint Publications Research Service UMT-008-L. For further discussion of the debate over military doctrine, see Stuart Kaufaman, "Lessons from the Gulf War and Russian Military Doctrine," Journal of Slavic Military Studies 6 (September 1993).

(96)"Military and Security Notes," RFE/RL Research Report 1 (October 16, 1992).

(97)RFE/RL Daily Report, January 7, 1993.

(98)A. S. Sinaiskii, "Geopolitika i natsional'naia bezopasnost' Rossi," Voennaia Mysl', no. 10 (October 1992), 10.

(99)An example of this Russian argument is in M. A. Gareev, "O nekotorykh voprosakh voennoi doktriny," Voennaia Mysl', no. 11 (November 1992), 4.

(100)Krepinevich, The Army and Vietnam (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986).

(101)"Russia's Security Will Be Enhanced by Deep Cuts in Strategic Offensive Arms," Izvestiia, June 22, 1992, p. 7, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 44 (July 22, 1992), 19--20; Pavel Felgengauer, "The Russian Army's General Staff Supports START II," Nezavisimaia gazeta, January 11, 1993, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 45 (February 3, 1993), 15.

(102)Yeltsin (fn. 94).

(103)Andrei Kozyrev, "The War Party Is on the Offensive," interview in Izvestiia, June 30, 1992, p. 3, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 44 (July 29, 1992), 4; RFE/RL News Briefs, supplement to RFE/RL Research Reports 2 (January 25--29, 1993), 10.

(104)"Russian-Moldovan Dialogue in Moscow Proves Fruitful," Izvestiia, February 11, 1993, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 45 (March 11, 1993), 20; John Lough, "The Place of the 'Near Abroad' in Russian Foreign Policy," RFE/RL Research Reports 2 (March 12, 1993), 24.

(105)Besik Urigashvili, "Parliamentary Opposition Demands Radical Actions," Izvestiia, February 25, 1993, p. 2, trans. in Current Digest of the Soviet Press 45 (March 24, 1993), 15.

(106)Robert J. Art, "Bureaucratic Politics and American Foreign Policy: A Critique," reprinted in G. John Ikenberry, ed., American Foreign Policy: Theoretical Essays (Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman, 1989).

(107)See, e.g., Thomas Goltz, "Letter from Eurasia: The Hidden Russian Hand," Foreign Policy, no. 92 (Fall 1993).
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Author:Kaufman, Stuart J.
Publication:World Politics
Date:Apr 1, 1994
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