News

[EXCERPTED from Johnson's Russia List]
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997 08:34:42 -0500 (EST)
From: Celeste Wallander
Subject: Pipes commentary

"... the question of explaining the collapse of the Soviet Union is the topic of a research and seminar series here at the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard, conceived and run by Mark Kramer. My assignment was to address the question of the western role in the Soviet collapse, and I presented my paper in late February." " ..... since my paper is a draft, it is not currently available for circulation, though it will be by the summer."

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Celeste A.. Wallander
Davis Center for Russian Studies, Harvard University 25 February 1997

"Did the West Cause the Collapse of the Soviet Union?" ... ... ...

First, the impetus and direction of the first stage of Soviet reform -- which itself was the major cause of the collapse of the Soviet economy by 1991 -- was NOT caused by the urgent need to cut defense spending forced by Western policies.

Second, preventing a further arms race was part of the context of Soviet reform policies, but (again) it was NOT a necessary condition for reform and there is no evidence that the continuing prospect of SDI and maintenance of high levels of strategic arms played a role in the failure of those first stages of reform.

Third, cutting defense did become a much more important priority in the second stage of economic reform beginning roughly in 1988, made necessary by the early failures. In this regard, western policies denied Gorbachev any opportunity to cut strategic arms and confidently plan that no arms race in space would threaten Soviet security.

While it is difficult to see how this denied him any short-term economic resources which could then be allocated to investment and consumption to stave off economic collapse, it may have. And the failure to get such an agreement clearly undermined the interrelated logic on "new thinking" and created political problems for him.

Fourth, nonetheless failure on SDI and START did not prevent cuts in defense spending and unilateral military reductions in conventional arms.

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