You are on page 1of 19

Soviet Policy in the Third World

Author(s): Margot Light


Reviewed work(s):
Source: International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), Vol. 67, No. 2
(Apr., 1991), pp. 263-280
Published by: Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Royal Institute of International Affairs
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2620830 .
Accessed: 05/11/2012 10:00
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp
.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
.
Wiley-Blackwell and Royal Institute of International Affairs are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve
and extend access to International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-).
http://www.jstor.org
Soviet policy in the Third World
MARGOT LIGHT
Margot Light argues that the dramatic change in Soviet Third World policy after
1985-away from support for 'wars of national liberation' and loyal maintenance of
socialist-oriented client countries, towards diplomatic expansion, economic expediency
andfacilitating East-West trade and technology transfer-was not a byproduct of
the end of the Cold War, but a precondition for it. She examines recent Soviet
policy in Cuba, Afghanistan, Angola and in the Gulf crisis. She writes that
conservative opposition can have little effect on the new policy, mainly for economic
reasons. A return to the old role in the Third World is impossible now.
Ten or fifteen years ago, a Soviet veto would probably have prevented the
Security Council from deliberating on the Gulf crisis. Agreement within the
Security Council about a response to Iraqi aggression in the Gulf would have
been impossible, and UN-sponsored military action against Iraq would
certainly have been inconceivable. Whatever misgivings the Soviet leadership
might have felt privately about Saddam Hussein's activities, the Soviet-Iraq
friendship treaty would have precluded public criticism. Diplomatic relations
between the Soviet Union and Kuwait would not have counterbalanced loyalty
to Iraq. In any case the two superpowers rarely cooperated within the Security
Council, and particularly not on issues where one or the other, or a major ally
of either, was involved. If war had occurred without specific UN approval, the
Soviet press would have been loud in its condemnation of Western intervention
and the chances are that the Iraqis would have been resupplied with Soviet
arms.
The Soviet response to the Gulf crisis illustrates, therefore, just how much
Soviet foreign policy has changed. But is it merely an isolated example of
cooperation within the UN to embody the many lofty declarations made by
President Gorbachev and President Bush about the 'new world order' of the
iggos?
In other words, is it a manifestation of the new East-West detente, or
does it reflect a more general shift in Soviet policy towards the Third World?
This article argues that the changes in Soviet-Third World relations extend
well beyond the Middle East and the immediate crisis in the Gulf. In fact, Soviet
estimations of political and economic developments in the Third World had
International Affairs 67, 2 (I99I) 263-280 263
Margot Light
begun to change a number of years before Gorbachev became General
Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in I985, and
policy began to alter very soon after he came to power. The improvement in
East-West relations, however, and the unexpected dissolution of the Soviet
bloc eclipsed the changes in the Third World, which were less dramatic and far
slower. Yet it can be argued that neither of those events could have taken place
if Soviet policy in the Third World had not begun to change first. After all,
Soviet activism in the Third World had been one of the major causes of the
deterioration in detente from the middle of the I970s. And if East-West
relations had not improved so radically, it is unlikely that the Soviet
government would have abandoned the Brezhnev Doctrine that the socialist
community has the right of intervention in the territory of any one of its
members whenever forces hostile to socialism threaten its ideological
alignment-in Eastern Europe.
It is not too far-fetched, therefore, to suggest that the key to the much
vaunted 'new world order' lay in Soviet-Third World relations. The desire to
re-establish good relations with the West was an important, but by no means
the sole reason why the new Soviet leadership began to reassess its policy in the
Third World. This analysis of Soviet-Third World relations will begin,
therefore, by considering in part one the mix of motives that contributed to the
reappraisal. In part two the precepts of the 'new political thinking' about the
Third World will be examined, since they give some indication of what the
new leadership wanted to achieve. Part three turns to policy itself, to examine
how those precepts have been translated into practice.
In the last few months it has become clear, first, that there is domestic
opposition to the new policy and, second, that there are constraints that prevent
the Soviet Union from either disengaging entirely from previous partners or
expanding rapidly in new directions. The article will end, therefore, by
considering the nature and strength of the opposition within the Soviet Union
to the new policy, and then turning to likely future policies given the
constraints and the present uncertainties about the future of perestroika.
i. The motives for change
On the face of it, Soviet foreign policy, particularly relations with the Third
World, seemed extremely successful by the end of the I970s. A new wave of
revolutionary movements had swept through the Third World, bringing
changes of regime in I4 different countries. Although the new governments
were by no means all Marxist-Leninist, many of them turned to the Soviet
Union for moral and material support.' By that time there was general
agreement that the Soviet Union had caught up with the United States in
For a discussion of the revolutions of the 1970s, see Fred Halliday, The making of the Second Cold War
(London: Verso, I983), ch. 4.
264
Soviet policy in the Third World
nuclear weaponry, so that there was rough parity between the two superpowers.
As a result of the buildup in military strength and the acquisition of new Third
World allies, Soviet leaders began to claim that the correlation of forces had
changed in favour of socialism.2
Western leaders seemed to share this assessment, and when the Soviet Union
and Cuba intervened in Angola in I975 and in Ethiopia in I977 there was
mounting distrust of the way in which the Soviet Union seemed to be
exploiting detente in Europe to expand into new areas of the Third World. In
any case, by then the increasing importance accorded to human rights issues in
international relations and the poor Soviet record in observing those rights had
begun to erode East-West relations. The invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet
army in December I979, seen by many in the West as the extension of the
Brezhnev Doctrine beyond Europe,3 effectively terminated detente. It also soon
put an end to Soviet optimism about the direction in which the correlation of
forces was really moving.
The invasion of Afghanistan cost the Soviet Union dear. Apart from the
human and financial costs of the war4 and the loss of a higher-priority foreign
policy goal (detente), when Brezhnev tried to improve Sino-Soviet relations in
I982, the Chinese government made the removal of Soviet troops from
Afghanistan one of the three preconditions for the normalization of relations.5
The invasion also cost the Soviet Union support in the Third World. The Non-
Aligned Movement objected to the invasion of one of its members, and
fundamentalist Islamic movements and governments supported the Afghan
rebels. Furthermore, within Afghanistan there was very little public support for
the Babrak Karmal government installed by the Soviet army, and the mujahidin
were more united, better armed and seemed in I985 even further from defeat
than they had been in I979.
But it was not just in Afghanistan that a friendly government did not seem
to be viable without Soviet military support. There were similar situations in
Angola and Ethiopia, where, despite the participation of Cuban troops and the
supply of Soviet arms, civil wars were still raging. In Mozambique the
government was struggling against an insurgency movement that had revived
and seemed to grow stronger. Apart from the cost of the increasing military aid
these governments required, there was a danger that the Soviet Union would
be drawn further into insoluble regional conflicts and, as American support for
the opponents of Soviet client regimes grew with the adoption of the Reagan
2
See, for example, L. I. Brezhnev, Report of the CPSU Central Committee and the immediate tasks of the
Party in home and
foreign
policy, XXVth Congress of the CPSU (Moscow: Novosti, 1976), p. 20.
See, for example, Mark Katz, 'The evolution of the Brezhnev Doctrine under Gorbachev', in Kurt
M. Campbell and S. Neil MacFarlane, Gorbachev's Third World dilemmas (London: Routledge, I989),
pp. 36-65.
Compared to American losses in Vietnam, the 13,000 Soviet casualties in Afghanistan were rather
low. See Geoffrey Jukes, 'The Soviet armed forces and the Afghan war', in Amin Saikal and William
Maly, eds., The Soviet
withdrawalfrom Afghanistan
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, I989), p.
83. Yuri Makarov (Izvestiya, 17 Oct. I990) estimated that the financial costs were 6o billion roubles.
The other two conditions were a reduction in the number of troops on the Sino-Soviet border, and
the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia.
265
Margot Light
Doctrine (the policy of supporting counter-revolutionary forces against
communist governments around the globe), that this might lead to
confrontation with the United States.
It was not only the costs and dangers of these wars that worried Soviet
policy-makers. By I985 the economic condition of Third World socialist and
socialist-oriented states was also cause for grave concern. Brezhnev's intention
to base Soviet dealings with the Third World on sound commercial principles
had come to nothing: there were huge outstanding debts to the Soviet Union
from its Third World allies. The Soviet economy could scarcely afford the aid
required by the Third World socialist countries (Cuba, Mongolia, Vietnam,
Laos, North Korea). And the newer socialist-oriented countries were, for the
most part, amongst the poorest and least developed countries in the world. It
seemed extremely unlikely that they would be able to progress from socialist
orientation to socialism, the course prescribed for them by Soviet development
theory, without massive material aid far beyond the means of the Soviet Union.
The Ethiopian famine of I984-5 served to highlight both the catastrophic
poverty of the country and the inability of the developed socialist states to offer
even the kind of disaster relief that was required.
In short, by the time Gorbachev came to power it must have been obvious
that the claim that the correlation of world forces was moving in favour of
socialism was empty rhetoric. There was a great deal of evidence to suggest that
Soviet policy towards the Third World had failed and that retrenchment was
urgent. Although it was obvious when the draft of the revised programme of
the Communist Party was published that the Third World had been
downgraded in Soviet priorities,' it was a while before open and detailed
criticism was permitted of past foreign policies. The new leadership began by
adducing the domestic reform programme as the primary reason for change.
In July I990 Gorbachev, replying to the comments on his report to the 28th
Congress of the CPSU, maintained that 'without a new foreign policy we
would not have been in any condition to change our own country'.' He was,
in fact, repeating the standard explanation offered by Soviet politicians since
I985: the highest priority was accorded to the domestic reform programme,
and the purpose of Soviet foreign policy was to create the international
conditions in which it could be implemented. It was not difficult to understand
what the adverse effects were of Soviet policy in the Third World on the
domestic economy, and the connections between the reform programme and
the proposed new foreign policy were straightforward.
The economic reform required capital investments in the civilian economy,
and that implied making savings elsewhere. At the most basic level, Soviet
foreign policy, particularly towards the Third World, was too expensive; it had
to become more profitable. But it also had to be more diversified so that
6
See 'Programma Kommunisticheskoi Partii Sovetskogo Soyuza: Novaya redaktsiya', Izvestiya, 7 Mar.
I986.
'Iz vystupleniya M. S. Gorbacheva
po
itogam obsuzhdeniya politicheskogo otcheta TsK KPSS
XXVIII s"ezdu partii', Vestnik ministerstva inostrannykh del SSSR, 31 July 1990, p. 3.
266
Soviet policy in the Third World
mutually beneficial relations could be established with a wider range of
countries.8 In the Third World, that implied improving the economic terms of
relations with socialist and socialist-oriented states, as well as establishing
diplomatic contact with capitalist developing states.
There were other, less direct but equally important ways in which the
domestic economic reform dictated a change in Soviet activities in the Third
World. As we have seen, Soviet-Third World relations had been one of the
reasons why East-West tension had increased from the middle of the I970S
onwards. Adopting a new policy in the Third World would, it was hoped,
lower the tension and contribute to improving Soviet relations with the
advanced capitalist countries. That might make it possible to cut Soviet defence
spending, which would free capital and expertise for the civilian economy. But
it might also have beneficial effects on East-West trade relations, in particular
by inducing a relaxation of the CoCom list' and making it easier to import the
sophisticated Western technology required for economic reform and moderniz-
ation. Furthermore, one aspect of the perestroika programme envisaged the
encouragement of direct foreign investment in joint ventures which would
offer easy profits to the foreign firms while bringing much-needed capital and
industrial expertise to the Soviet Union. Since the West had responded to the
invasion of Afghanistan by applying economic sanctions against the Soviet
Union, the relationship between Soviet policy in the Third World and
economic relations with the West must have been abundantly clear to the new
Soviet leadership in I985.
Thus domestic economic requirements and the failures and dangers of past
Soviet policies all pointed to the need for a reappraisal of Soviet-Third World
relations. The new political thinking provided the theoretical underpinning on
which it could be based.
2. New thinking about the Third World
The aspect of new thinking that most directly concerns the Third World has to
do with economic development, and it is in fact hardly new. Disappointed with
the lack of economic and political progress in the socialist-oriented states of the
Third World, Soviet theorists had been studying the problems of under-
development since the I970s. They concluded that their previous assumptions
about the speed and relative ease of economic development in countries that
adopted a non-capitalist system had been simplistic and mistaken. Later, some
of these theorists began to reach conclusions that represented a considerable
revision of traditional Marxist-Leninist thinking and the way it had been
applied to the Third World. For example, some of them rejected the idea that
8
Shevardnadze used the term 'profitable' to explain how foreign policy had to respond to perestroika
in a talk he gave to a meeting of Soviet diplomats in 1987, published in Vestnik, 26 Aug. 1987, pp.
30-4. The intention to diversify Soviet relations in the Third World was included in the new edition
of the Party Programme: see 'Programma' (note 6).
'
Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls, which organizes the list of strategic
advanced technology goods debarred from export to communist countries.
267
Margot Light
underdeveloped countries could, with aid from the established socialist states,
progress directly from feudalism to socialism without going through the
capitalist stage of development. They maintained that although theoretically
possible, it had happened only rarely in history (in Soviet Central Asia and
Mongolia) and that it required substantial aid not from the established socialist
states (as their former theory had maintained), but from the metropolitan centre
which had colonized the country.'0 Theorists were not explicit, however, about
what this implied for the future development of existing socialist-oriented states
and how they would manage the transition to socialism.
Doubts about whether a stage of development could be skipped led some
theorists to question the whole concept of socialist orientation. As early as I982,
well before the themes of the new political thinking were articulated, a number
of well-known authors (including leading academics and senior officials in the
Central Committee apparatus) had pointed to the long and arduous distance
between socialist orientation and socialism." Later, under the influence of the
new political thinking, other theorists were emboldened to wonder whether
the second-generation socialist-oriented states, those that had adopted the path
in the I970s, were really socialist-oriented. Or had Soviet acceptance of their
socialist-oriented status been the product of the wishful thinking that
characterized theory during the Brezhnev era? After all, they were very
different both from one another and from the first-generation socialist-oriented
states. The new political thinkers were sharply critical of the gap between the
previous theory of socialist orientation and the empirical evidence available in
the Third World, and the failure of Soviet theory to admit or explain the newly
industrialized countries.'2
Although these doubts were by
no means
universally shared,'3
and
although
those who expressed them urged that states that had already adopted socialist
orientation should not be abandoned, the erosion of the concept discouraged
any search for potential new volunteers for socialist orientation. And as
perestroika in the Soviet Union developed into democratization and the
establishment of elements of a plural political system, together with plans for
privatization and the introduction of a market, socialist-oriented states were
urged to shed the features that had marked them as socialist-oriented in the first
place and to adopt similar reforms. It can be argued that doubts about the
efficacy (and even the existence) of socialist orientation, while not implying that
10
See, for example, G. I. Mirsky, 'K voprosu o vybore puti i orientatsii razvivayushchikhsya stran',
Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, No. 5, I987, pp. 70-8I.
1
See the analysis in Elizabeth Kridl Valkenier, 'Revolutionary change in the Third World: recent
Soviet reassessments', World Politics 38: 3, April I986, pp. 415-34. For the debates about the Third
World before perestroika, see her The Soviet Union and the Third World: an economic bind (New York:
Praeger, I983), and Jerry Hough, The struggle
for
the Third World: Soviet debates and American options
(Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, I986).
12 See, for example, Aleksei Kiva, 'Socialist orientation: reality and illusions', International
Affairs
(Moscow), No. 7, I988, pp. 78-86; G. I. Mirsky, 'Sotsialisticheskaya orientatsiya v "tret'em mire"
(Nekotorie problemy issledovaniya)', Rabochii klass i sovremenny mir, No. 4, 1988, pp. 118-29.
13 See A. Kaufman and R. Ulyanovsky, 'K voprosu o sotsialisticheskoi orientatsii osvobodivshikhsya
stran', Aziya i
Afrika
segodnya, No. 5, I988, for an example of an angry rebuttal of this kind of new
thinking.
268
Soviet policy in the Third World
the Soviet Union had no special responsibility for Third World Marxist-
Leninist regimes, rationalized the search for better relations with capitalist
developing states and with newly industrialized countries.
In the field of international relations, glasnost was reflected not only in the
freedom to question old shibboleths and engage in theoretical debates, but also
in encouragement to re-examine the past. Published criticism of past policies
began to appear in newspapers and journals. Revisionist interpretations of the
causes of the Cold War were published, for example, in which the Second Cold
War was blamed largely on 'the expansion of Soviet influence in Africa, the
Middle East and other areas' and the Brezhnev leadership was accused of
mistakenly assuming that Soviet national interest lay 'in the pursuit of small,
essentially nominal gains connected with leadership coups in individual
developing countries'. 14 Later, once the Supreme Soviet had begun vigorous
debates about domestic and foreign policy and the press had become even
bolder, bilateral relations with individual countries were sometimes subject to
published censure.'5
On the whole, however, academic work on Third World economic and
political development concentrated at first on criticism of past precepts and the
setting of new research agendas. But politicians and theorists also began to
recognize the existence of a North-South gap (called a simplistic, artificial
division in the past) and the widening of that gap. Moreover, they no longer
held the capitalist industrialized states solely responsible for closing the gap. The
problems of Third World poverty and indebtedness were categorized as global
problems, which defied piecemeal solutions and required a coordinated
approach from the world community as a whole.'6
Other aspects of the new political thinking had profound implications for the
Third World. The acceptance, for example, that security could not be achieved
unilaterally or entirely by military means, and that international security
required both a decrease in the level of arms held by the two superpowers and
political cooperation between them, applied primarily to East-West relations in
Europe. But it also meant that the Third World should no longer be an arena
for zero-sum competition and confrontation between the two superpowers.
Those Third World governments whose military and economic support
derived from the competition between their superpower patrons would be
severely affected by a new international understanding. The new thinking
about regional conflict spelt this out with great clarity.
The wars in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Angola, and the difficulties Soviet
allies were having in defeating insurgencies in Nicaragua and Mozambique,
14
V. Dashichev, 'Vostok-Zapad: poisk novykh otnoshenii', Literaturnaya gazeta, i8 May I988.
15
For articles critical of Soviet policy in the Third World see, for example, Dmitry Yevstafyev, 'Dollars
and debts', New Times, No. 29, I990, pp. I8-I9, on relations with Libya; and the polemical exchange
of views about Iraq by Yu. Georgiev and Yu. Dakhab, 'Ob Irake bez stereotipov', Argumenty
ifakty,
No. 21, 1990, pp. 6-7.
16 On the North-South gap see, for example, V. L. Sheinis, 'Razvivayushchiesya strany i novoc
politicheskoe myshlenie', Rabochii klass i sovremennyi mir, No. 4, 1987, pp. 77-90. In his speech to the
UN (Soviet News, 14 Dec. 1988) President Gorbachev listed underdevelopment as a universal problem
and proposed international cooperation to deal with Third World debt.
269
Margot Light
contributed to a radical reappraisal in the Soviet Union of the nature and danger
of regional conflict. According to the new analysis, even if a conflict began by
being very local there was a propensity for it to spread, both from one issue to
others and geographically from one area to others. In a hostile bipolar world
this was particularly dangerous because of the tendency for two sides in a
conflict to seek aid and support from opposing superpowers. As a result there
was always a possibility that local conflict could spread and become general, and
at the same time that it might escalate, drawing in the superpowers. Even a local
conflict, therefore, carried the threat of sparking superpower nuclear
confrontation.
The way to avert this danger, it was suggested, was to prevent regional
conflicts from becoming violent. Every effort should be made to find a political
settlement acceptable to both sides. The two superpowers were held, by virtue
of their status, to have a special responsibility to sponsor and support the policies
of national reconciliation necessary to achieve a political settlement. They
should also be prepared to guarantee any settlement that was reached, and to
prevent external intervention.17
It soon became clear that what had previously been called 'wars of national
liberation' (which were therefore deserving of socialist support) would now be
classified as regional conflicts, and that Soviet support for efforts to win them
by military means would be more difficult to achieve.'8 And it was in relation
to the regional conflicts in which the Soviet Union was involved that concrete
evidence of the new political thinking in the Third World was most striking.
Let us turn now to the record of Soviet policy in the Third World.
3. New thinking in practice
Gorbachev declared his intention to diversify Soviet foreign relations in many
of his early foreign policy announcements. Soviet foreign policy would cease
to be dominated by relations with the United States, and all policy would no
longer be viewed through the prism of the East-West conflict. Inevitably,
however, once President Reagan began to respond to the changes in the
Kremlin, Soviet-American relations played an even more dominant role than
they had before perestroika. Nonetheless, President Gorbachev and Foreign
Minister Shevardnadze also managed to extend the range and number of
countries with which the Soviet Union has diplomatic relations. Retrenchment
in the socialist and socialist-oriented Third World, therefore, has been
accompanied by expansion and diversification elsewhere. How should this be
interpreted? Has there been a change in Soviet policy in the Third World, or
have old allies merely been replaced by new ones?
17
A. I. Kolosovkiy, 'Regional conflicts and global security', in Steve Hirsch, ed., MEMO: New Soviet
voices on foreign and economic policy (Washington, DC: BNA Books, I989),
pp.
503-15. For a spirited
defence of the new thinking on regional conflict, see Shevardnadze's press conference in Izvestiya, 17
Mar. I990.
18 See, for example, the discussion 'The USSR and the Third World', International
Affairs
(Moscow),
No. 12, I988, pp. 135-46, in which the national liberation struggle does not receive a mention.
270
Soviet policy in the Third World
A useful way to assess how much Soviet foreign policy has altered, and to
classify the kinds of change that have occurred, is to use the distinctions
suggested by Francis Fukuyama and to examine change at three different levels.
The most superficial level is a change in style, detected in the practice of
diplomacy and the nature of propaganda. More significant are changes in tactics,
or the means by which long-term goals are pursued in the present. According
to Fukuyama, tactical changes would be reflected in the kind of states with
which the Soviet Union now seeks diplomatic relations, and in the costs and
risks it is prepared to bear to achieve its objectives. In judging whether the new
policy should be taken seriously, however, the most important level to examine
is strategic change: have the long-term goals changed? Will the Soviet Union
continue to expand its influence in the Third World, and if it does, will the
expansion be based on ideology?"9
The style of Soviet foreign policy changed as soon as new personnel began
to take up their positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central
Committee in I985. The most striking aspect of the new style was the active
use made of public relations and the mass media to present the new political
thinking and the new policies to domestic and foreign audiences. But this
represented more than adopting modern communications skills and technology
to convey old messages. As we have seen above, the content of the message had
changed. Essentially it had become less ideological, more idealistic. In relation
to the developing world, a less ideological message meant the downgrading of
the priority given to the Third World and the intention to practise more even-
handed policies, distinguishing less between socialist-oriented and socialist states
on the one hand and capitalist developing states on the other. It also meant a
firm intention to disengage from Third World conflict.
Another indication of changing style was the way that Soviet diplomats
became more cooperative and far more outgoing. It certainly seemed as if
diplomats abroad were being allowed to take more individual initiatives. This
may have reflected the shift that was taking place in Moscow in the locus of
foreign policy decision-making, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its
minister became more influential and the Central Committee apparatus
progressively less important. Other signs of a new style included the extensive
and frequent personal diplomacy conducted by Mikhail Gorbachev, first as
General Secretary of the CPSU and later as President, and the vast amount of
foreign travel undertaken by him and by Foreign Minister Shevardnadze to
establish new diplomatic links, to consolidate old and trusted ties and to
persuade Western leaders and publics that perestroika and the new political
thinking embodied a genuine transformation of the Soviet Union.20
If foreign travel was a change in style, the nature of the countries visited in
the Third World and the resulting links established went beyond style to
19
Francis Fukuyama, Gorbachev and the new Soviet agenda in the Third World, R-3634-A (Santa Monica,
CA: Rand Corporation, I989), p. 31.
20
One of the earliest complaints Soviet people expressed privately about Gorbachev, in fact, was that he
spent too much time abroad and consequently neglected domestic problems. By I99O the criticism had
become open. See, for example, the interview with Shevardnadze in Argumenty
ifakty,
No. 43, 1990.
27I
Margot Light
provide evidence of the second level of tactical changes in Soviet foreign policy.
Of course, visits have also been paid to socialist and socialist-oriented states, and
their leaders have been received in Moscow. Moreover, efforts have been made
to consolidate Soviet relations with long-standing non-socialist Third World
friends, for example India. But more important from the point of view of
change were the journeys undertaken by Shevardnadze to countries with which
the Soviet Union had previously had tenuous or no links, or where relations
had previously been strained, and the reciprocal visits received in Moscow.
For example, in I986 and I987 Shevardnadze visited Mexico, Brazil,
Argentina and Uruguay, as well as a number of ASEAN states, including
Indonesia, and Australia. In I989 he visited Egypt, Iran and Jordan, and went
to China to arrange the historic summit meeting. Gorbachev finally went to
Beijing in May I989, though the summit was completely overshadowed by
student protest while he was there and the Tiananmen massacre soon after he
left. In I990 Shevardnadze went to Namibia for the independence celebrations,
and then visited Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania and
Nigeria. Back in Moscow during those years Gorbachev and Shevardnadze
received a vast number of foreign leaders, many of whom had never visited the
USSR before. Of course, they also both journeyed to Western capitals, and
Shevardnadze went to Japan.
The diplomatic fruits of this activity were considerable. Links have been
consolidated with those countries where diplomatic relations already existed
but where there had previously been little high-level contact. The Soviet Union
established or renewed diplomatic relations with a number of countries in the
Third World: for example, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kiribati,
Vanuatu, Qatar, Namibia, Chile, Albania, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Honduras
and South Korea. Gorbachev and Shevardnadze were prepared to risk the
displeasure of traditional allies in return for the perceived advantages of
initiating new contacts. Consular relations were established with Israel, for
example, despite the disapproval both of the traditional Arab clients of the
USSR and of leaders of Gulf states with whom relations had only recently been
established. Similarly, despite African misgivings, high-level contacts took
place between South Africa and the Soviet Union during the negotiations over
Angola, and Shevardnadze and President de Klerk met face to face in Namibia.
The rapprochement with South Korea and Shevardnadze's expressed ambition
to resolve the Korean problem not only produced a calculated snub when he
stopped off at Pyongyang on an Asian tour, but also sent Kim I1 Sung to China
for reassurance of support.2'
There is evidence, therefore, that with regard to diplomacy considerable
change has occurred at the tactical level. Soviet intentions, however, extended
beyond the establishment of mere formal diplomatic relations with a range of
new partners. An important underlying aim was to expand Soviet foreign
21
See Shevardnadze's article, 'Pozitivny peremen', Izvestiya, 2 Oct. I990, and the intcrview he gave to
Argumenty
ifakty,
No. 43, I990. L. Mlechin, 'A return to Seoul', New Times, No. 41, I990, pp.
13-14, reports Kim I1 Sung's reaction.
272
Soviet policy in the Third World
trade with capitalist developing and newly industrialized countries, so that the
economic basis of Soviet-Third World relations would become more
advantageous to the USSR. In this respect the results were disappointing. High
hopes and good intentions were expressed on all sides, and many agreements
were signed, but they were seldom fulfilled. The countries of Latin America are
a good example of the general problem concerning Soviet economic relations
with the Third World: not only are most Latin American countries tied into
the economy of the United States, but there is a basic lack of economic
complementarity between them and the USSR which reduces the scope for
exchange.22 And although trade relations with South Korea preceded
diplomatic recognition, and it was hoped that formal ties would enable them
to expand, particularly in the field of technology, one commentator remarked
sadly that South Korea 'does not have all that great an interest in the Soviet
market, which as such does not yet exist'.23 In any case, the extraordinary
difficulties, uncertainties and shortages in the Soviet economy at present make
it unlikely that foreign trade will be able to expand very much in the near
future.
According to one Soviet journalist, during his journey around Africa
Shevardnadze hoped not so much to expand trade as to explain to existing
trading partners that 'cooperation had, at last, to bring some benefits to the
Soviet Union as well' and to persuade them 'to consider how [they] might pay
back at least part of their debts'.24 The scale of foreign indebtedness to the
Soviet Union was made public for the first time in I990. The Soviet Union was
owed a total of 85,000 million roubles. The greatest debtors were not in fact
African countries; nor were they 'second-generation' socialist-oriented states.
Cuba, Mongolia and Vietnam, classified in the Soviet Union as fully fledged
socialist Third World countries, were among the top five debtors, owing
I5,490.6 million, 9,542.7 million and 9,I3I.2 million roubles respectively. The
other two were India (8,907.5 million roubles) and Syria (6,742.6 million
roubles). But Angola and Mozambique also had huge outstanding debs (2,028.9
and 8o8.6 million roubles respectively), and Zambia, Nigeria and Tanzania
owed lesser but substantial amounts.25 Whether or not Shevardnadze had really
wanted to call the debts in, it is unlikely that his journey through Africa
persuaded him that it was a realistic hope.
Public reaction in the Soviet Union to foreign indebtedness pointed to the
domestic opposition which might seriously impede the aim of expanding
economic relations with the Third World if trade is to depend upon extending
22
See Nicola Miller, Soviet relations with Latin America, 1959-1987 (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, I989) for an analysis of the problems. In India and the Soviet Union: Trade and technology transfer
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, I990), Santosh Mehrotra points out that although India is
not tied into the American economy, lack of complementarity is a growing problem in Soviet-Indian
relations. 23 Mlechin, 'A return to Seoul', p. I4.
24
M. Yusin, 'Novy vzglyad na Afriku', Izvestiya, 30 Mar. I990.
25
The list of debts was published in Izvestiya, I Mar. I990. With regard to the socialist Third World,
Shevardnadze said in an interview a few months later (Argumenty ifakty, No. 43, I990) that although
every effort was being made to improve the situation, at the time relations were established no
attempt had been made to base them on the principle of mutual benefit. He predicted that
improvement would be slow and painful.
273
Margot Light
credits. And the annually decreasing amount of money allotted to grants makes
it abundantly clear that expansion certainly could not occur through the offer
of aid. The I989 budget allotted I2,500 million roubles for aid. In I990 the
amount provided for aid was reduced to 9,300 million roubles. In the recently
approved I99I budget, it has fallen to only 400 million roubles.26
In short, although there have been manifest changes in Soviet policy in the
Third World at the tactical level, in so far as the new policy aimed at improving
Soviet economic relations, success has been limited. But a number of traditional
tactics have been employed in Soviet relations with the Third World in the last
few years, particularly with regard to the Asia-Pacific region. These include
proposals for nuclear-free zones and for disarmament, for regional confidence-
building measures, economic security agreements and a Helsinki-type process
for the Asian-Pacific area. Although none of them have caught the imagination
of the people to whom they were addressed, they have not been dropped
entirely. Moreover the proposals have not, as in the past, been confined to
rhetoric. The withdrawal of Soviet aircraft from Cam Ranh Bay military base
in Vietnam (it is projected that all Soviet forces will have withdrawn from the
base by I992) can be interpreted as the first step in an attempt to realize the
various proposals.27
Attempts to broaden relations have not led to the complete neglect of
traditional ties in the Third World. During his Middle East tour, for example,
Shevardnadze visited Syria and Iraq. A great deal of attention has been paid to
India. Shevardnadze was the highest-ranking Soviet official ever to go to
Nicaragua, and he and Gorbachev visited Cuba. It is almost certainly the case
that Soviet leaders have tried to persuade their Third World socialist and
socialist-oriented friends to adopt economic and political reforms. Many have
done so, but Vietnamese economic reforms, for example, have not been very
successful and they have not been accompanied by much political change. Both
the Soviet press and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been unambiguous in
their criticism of the Vietnamese government.28 The Vietnamese Communist
Party has been equally critical of the reforms in the Soviet Union and Eastern
29
Europe.2
Although Soviet policy-makers show little enthusiasm now for socialist
Third World states, forcing them to reform seems to be impossible. On the
other hand, leaving them entirely in the lurch is proving to be equally difficult,
26
Strong criticism of Soviet aid policy can be found in A. Kortunov and A. Izyumov, 'The Soviet
Union in the changing world', International
Affairs (Moscow), Aug. I988, pp. 5i-6. The I99I budget
was published in Izvestiya, I s Jan. I 99 I. In July I 990 Gorbachev issued a decree calling for mutual
advantage and mutual interests in Soviet economic cooperation with developing countries, and stating
that in future 'economic assistance shall be given with due account of our country's actual
possibilities'. Izvestiya, 24 July I990.
27 For the various disarmament proposals made by Gorbachev, see Roy Allison, The Soviet Union and the
strategy of Non-Alignment in the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, I988), pp.
ios-I i. Many of the security proposals have recently been reiterated by Shevardnadze in 'Pozitivny
peremen'. On the withdrawal of Soviet troops, see Suzanne Crow, 'Will the Moscow-Hanoi alliance
survive aid and arms cutbacks?', Report on the USSR, Radio Liberty 2: 45, 9 Nov. I990, pp. I4-I7.
28 For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assessment see 'The foreign and diplomatic activity of the USSR',
International Affairs (Moscow), Jan. I990, p. 74. More critical views can be found in Izvestiya, 4 Feb.
I990. 29 Suzanne Crow, 'Will the Moscow-Hanoi alliance survive'.
274
Soviet policy in the Third World
whether or not they have adopted a reform programme and whatever views
their leaders express about perestroika. The case of Cuba illustrates the
dilemma.
On the face of it, Cuba's economic dependence on the Soviet Union should
give Moscow tremendous leverage over Fidel Castro's domestic and foreign
policy. Not only does Cuba get its oil from the Soviet Union at subsidized
prices, but it sells its surplus to earn hard currency. Moreover, the Soviet Union
buys Cuban sugar at about four times the world market price and accounts for
nearly 8o per cent of Cuba's total trade.30 As we have seen above, Cuba is the
Soviet Union's largest debtor. Yet Castro has made no secret of his implacable
opposition to perestroika. He demonstrated his opposition to it in I986 by
adopting a Rectification Programme which increased centralization and
abolished existing market mechanisms in Cuba. In I989 his fear of political
reform was reflected in the execution and imprisonment of some of his most
trusted advisers.3' He also banned the distribution of Moscow News and Sputnik
in Cuba.
As far as Cuba's foreign policy is concerned, Gorbachev was informed
during his visit to Havana in April I989 that Cuba would continue to support
revolutionary movements and countries. This stance makes an improvement in
Cuban-American relations impossible (this would not only relieve Cuba's
economic predicament but also suit the Soviet Union). Although Castro has
refrained from attacking Gorbachev personally, he has been scathing about the
events in Eastern Europe and vociferous in his determination that nothing can
stop Cuba from moving along the path to socialism.32 Yet Cuba's total
dependence seems to make it difficult for the Soviet Union to retaliate by
cutting ties completely. Many commentators who criticize Soviet aid policies
argue in relation to Cuba that it would be unworthy to forget traditional
obligations and Soviet 'responsibility ... for the present state of affairs there '.33
There has been economic pressure, and Soviet domestic problems have affected
deliveries (particularly of oil) to Cuba, causing great hardship. But assurances
have been given that deliveries will continue.34
The leaders of the socialist-oriented states, however, may well feel that they
have been abandoned, because it is in relation to them that the most dramatic
events have occurred in Soviet Third World policy, representing change at the
strategic level. The new thinking about regional conflict has been assiduously
applied in Afghanistan and Angola and, less successfully so far, in Ethiopia and
Cambodia. In Afghanistan, Soviet participation in the UN-sponsored
negotiation was direct, while its role was more indirect in the Angolan
settlement. In the case of Ethiopia and Cambodia, the Soviet Union plays a
30
Paul Goble, 'Is Moscow about to cut Castro loose', Report on the USSR, Radio Liberty 2: 2, I2 Jan.
I990, pp. 4-5.
31
Douglas Payne, 'Fidel Castro versus perestroika', Report on the USSR, Radio Liberty 2: 2, I2 Jan. I990,
pp. 6-IO. 32 Vladimir Orlov, Moscow News, No. IO, I990.
33 Vitaly Sobolev, 'Mutual liabilities', New Times, No. 8, I990, pp. I2-I3. See also Vladimir Razuvayev,
'Between geopolitics and ideology' New Times, No. i9, I990, pp. I6-I7.
34
The Guardian, 3I. Dec. I990.
275
Margot Light
backroom role, supporting and encouraging political solutions to the conflicts
but not participating in the negotiations. But all four cases fulfil the criteria for
strategic change, because the Soviet Union has been prepared to withdraw from
established positions in states with Marxist-Leninist governments.35
The efforts to end the civil war in Afghanistan included applying techniques
of 'national reconciliation' (for example by co-opting non-party people into
central and local government, moderating official attitudes to religion, replacing
Babrak Karmal by Mohammed Najibullah in the hope that government
legitimacy would increase, unilaterally announcing ceasefires and offering to
share power with the mujahidin in a coalition government). In the end,
however, when the Soviet Union abandoned all its preconditions and signed
the Geneva Accords in April I988, the conflict was seemingly still insoluble.
When the last Soviet troops withdraw in February I989, the civil war did not
end; nor did Soviet military supplies to the Afghan army (and American
supplies to the mujahidin) to prosecute it.36 Two years later peace talks between
the two sides had not yet reached a satisfactory conclusion and the superpowers
had not yet agreed not to supply arms.
As far as ending the civil war in Angola is concerned, it was a question of
persuading Cuba as well as the MPLA regime to negotiate. American-Soviet
cooperation worked better and more quickly in Angola than in Afghanistan,
perhaps because the independence of Namibia could be gained in the process of
ending the war. But here too, negotiating the withdrawal of Cuba and South
Africa proved easier than effecting the national reconciliation within Angola
that the resolution of regional conflict calls for, and the conflict has not yet come
to an end. Direct Soviet influence in relation to Ethiopia and Vietnam is less
visible, although Soviet support for the negotiations is clear.37 But so far
reconciliation seems even more elusive here than elsewhere.
Soviet leaders have proposed their technique for dealing with regional
conflict in situations where the Soviet Union is not directly involved. But it is
in relation to the conflicts in socialist-oriented states, where the Soviet Union
has been directly involved and where the end of the conflict almost certainly
means the end of a Marxist-Leninist regime, that strategic change in Soviet
policy in the Third World can be observed. For it is here that changes in Soviet
long-term goals can be registered.38
While Iraq does not have a Marxist-Leninist regime, Soviet policy in relation
to the Guif crisis represents a distinct strategic change. The Soviet Union found
itself in an awkward situation when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August I990. On
the one hand, the traditional Soviet support for the sanctity of existing
35
The most resounding examples of strategic change occurred, of course, not in the Third World but in
Eastern Europe in I989 and I990.
36
On the other hand, expectations that the government would fall as soon as Soviet troops were
withdrawn were confounded. For a detailed analysis of the negotiations of the Geneva Accords and
the events thereafter, see Amin Saikal and William Maly, eds., The Soviet withdrawalfrom Afghanistan.
37 See, for example, Shevardnadze's interview in Izvestiya, I7 Mar. I990, on the negotiations in Ethiopia,
and his 'Pozitivny peremen' on Cambodia.
38 The seemingly easy acceptance of results of the Nicaraguan elections and the reception of Mrs
Chamorro in Moscow also perhaps fits into this category of change.
276
Soviet policy in the Third World
international borders had become more urgent once the revolutions in Eastern
Europe had rendered European borders less certain. There could be no question,
therefore, of condoning the invasion. Moreover, demonstrating support for the
Western position would prove Soviet reliability as a partner in the new world
order. And as we have seen, the Soviet Union had recently established
diplomatic relations with some of the Gulf states and hoped to extend this
policy. Thus there were strong reasons for voting for the UN resolutions that
called for Iraq's withdrawal and imposed an embargo.
On the other hand, Iraq was a long-standing Soviet ally, with whom a
friendship treaty had been signed in I972. Although arms deliveries had been
suspended during the Iran-Iraq war, they had subsequently been resumed and
there were about 200 Soviet military advisers in Iraq and
5,000
other Soviet
citizens. Furthermore, the presence of Western troops in the Gulf would bring
them alarmingly close to the southern borders of the Soviet Union. In any case,
the conflict seemed ideal for applying the new Soviet method of conflict
resolution. Supporting the use of force, therefore, was a less easy decision to
make.
After some hesitation, the Soviet Union voted in favour of the resolution to
use force. There seemed to be no question of Soviet forces participating in
military action. Although Shevardnadze suggested at one stage that the Soviet
Union might commit troops to a UN force, Gorbachev carefully did not
mention the possibility in public. Under the new constitution sending troops
abroad requires a decision by the Supreme Soviet, and it is extremely unlikely
that approval could have been obtained. The conservative Soyuz group of
deputies objected to Soviet policy in the Gulf, while more radical deputies
remembered the lessons of Afghanistan.39 Both before and after UN SC
Resolution 678 (which authorized the use of' all possible means' to ensure Iraq's
withdrawal from Kuwait), strenuous efforts were made to negotiate a
settlement. Evgeny Primakov embarked on two rounds of shuttle diplomacy in
October, and later two deputy foreign ministers visited various Arab capitals.40
The Soviet leadership hoped to negotiate an Arab solution to the crisis. When
that failed, an increased United Nations role was suggested. And though the
Soviet leadership denied any kind of linkage, there was strong support for the
idea of a Middle East conference at which all the outstanding conflicts in the
area could be sorted out.4'
Soviet efforts to find a political solution continued even after the war had
For the objections of Soyuz, see 'Ne mozhem otnesti eto k dostizheniyam nashei vneshnei politiki',
Literaturnaya Rossiya, I2 Nov. I990, and the comment by Yuri Makarov, 'Za kem ne pospevayut
politrabotniki', Izvestiya, I7 Oct. I990. The radicals, on the other hand, criticized the government's
reluctance to withdraw Soviet specialists. See Susan Crow, 'Soviet Union pursues dual policy on
Iraq', Report on the USSR, Radio Liberty, 2: 40, 5 Oct. I990, pp. 6-8.
40 Primakov, a Middle East expert with a long-standing interest in conflict resolution, was a member of
the Presidential Council and travelled as Gorbachev's personal envoy. See the interview with him in
Literaturnaya gazeta, 7 Nov. I990. There have been suggestions that Shevardnadze took a harder line
towards Iraq than Gorbachev. See Suzanne Crow, 'Soviet Union pursues dual policy on Iraq'.
41 This was, in fact, an old Soviet proposal that had been revived by Gorbachev in the early days of the
new political thinking.
277
Margot Light
begun. On the eve of the ground battle Gorbachev conducted dramatic and
intensive negotiations to seek a compromise that would make the ground war
unnecessary. Since Gorbachev seemed prepared to negotiate with Saddam
Hussein and to accept the validity of some of his conditions, many in the West
began to question Soviet intentions (although both President Bush and Prime
Minister Major were publicly careful not to impute devious motives). But did
Gorbachev's eleventh-hour intervention really reflect a major switch in Soviet
policy ?
Military and Communist Party conservatives certainly put pressure on
Gorbachev, as they had on Shevardnadze at the beginning of the crisis.
Moreover, they were in a considerably stronger position by the beginning of
February than they had been in August when Iraq invaded Kuwait. In early
February, a Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU appealed to
Gorbachev to renew his diplomatic efforts to end the war. Criticism of
American policy in the Gulf War-and of the Soviet government for
supporting that policy-couched in the language of the Cold War was
published not only in conservative papers like Sovetskaya Rossiva and Krasnaya
zvezda, but also in Pravda.42 Senior political generals went so far as to hold a
press conference on I3 February to denounce the war. It is not difficult to
imagine how much alarm the vivid demonstration of American military
technology must have caused among the military. There was an increasing fear
in the Soviet Union that Saddam Hussein's collapse would create a power
vacuum that would be filled by the United States. It is clear, therefore, that
Soviet support for coalition policy was under increasing attack.
On the other hand, the attempt to negotiate an end to the war can hardly be
seen as a reversal of policy. There had been several previous attempts before the
air attack began. Soviet support for the use of force, first in connection with the
embargo and later to ensure Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, had been hesitant
and reluctant. A political solution was entirely in keeping with the 'new
political thinking' about regional conflict. But this is not to argue that the
attempt was entirely altruistic. Gorbachev would have gained a great deal if his
final initiative had succeeded. Conservative opposition to his policies might
have been stemmed, and a new demonstration of his important international
position would have helped him in his power struggle with Boris Yeltsin and
the radical opposition. Finally, the Gulf War threatened the loss of the hard-
won Western recognition that the Soviet Union had legitimate security
interests in the Middle East. If Gorbachev's diplomacy had succeeded, Soviet
participation in the peace process would have been assured. The Soviet Union's
reputation among the Arab supporters of Saddam Hussein would have risen.
Can one talk of strategic change if the Soviet Union not only did not commit
troops to the coalition forces but seemed, in the end, to act against the coalition
in trying to end the war? Despite the absence of Soviet troops, and the eagerness
to find a political solution before Iraq's complete destruction, a comparison
between Soviet behaviour in previous international crises (particularly in the
Middle East) and the present cooperation reveals a substantial shift in policy.
278
Soviet policy in the Third World
Though regret was expressed that the chance of averting the land war was
missed, there was no outcry in the Soviet press. Soviet policy in the Gulf might
have been less successful than other efforts to end regional conflict, but on the
whole Soviet conduct during the war reflects the general shift that has occurred
in Soviet policy towards the Third World.
4. Future prospects
This account of Soviet policy towards the Third World since I985 makes it
clear that there have been changes that extend well beyond the exigency of the
Gulf crisis. It is also apparent that while Soviet activity in the Third World is
influenced by the need for better East-West relations, the changes represent a
general shift in Soviet policy towards that area and are not simply a
manifestation of East-West detente. Furthermore, in considering the signific-
ance of the new policy, we have noted change at the levels of style, tactics and
strategy, which suggests that the new political thinking is not merely the pursuit
of traditional goals using new techniques.
On the other hand, the record indicates that Soviet policy has been successful
at some levels and disappointing in other respects. One reason for the
disappointments is the constraints under which Soviet foreign policy operates.
With regard to the declared aim of developing even-handed, economically
beneficial relations with a variety of Third World countries, for example, there
are both economic and political constraints which hamper the desired expansion
of trade. Economic constraints arise from the structure of the Soviet economy
and the lack of complementarity between it and many Third World
economies: both are primarily exporters of raw materials, both need modern
technology, both have scarce currency resources. These constraints are unlikely
to disappear in the short or medium term, and they will continue to hamper the
expansion of relations with the Third World.
Besides energy, however, the Soviet Union does have arms to sell abroad,
and it is not yet clear whether the past painful experiences that resulted from
supplying arms will serve to deter future sales. If the USSR does curtail arms
sales, this may act as a further constraint, since Third World customers would
look for other suppliers. Ironically, in the last couple of years perestroika itself
has become a constraint. The present economic and political chaos in the Soviet
Union and the uncertainty about the future make foreign trade difficult and
deter any further expansion. A further constraint on the kind of expansion
envisaged by the Soviet leadership arises from past commitments. Both
Gorbachev and Shevardnadze reassured the people of the socialist Third World
states that although they would like to work towards a more balanced and fair
exchange relationship, they will not renege on their traditional partners. The
resulting economic and opportunity costs to the Soviet Union will constrain
expansion elsewhere.
It has become obvious in recent months that there is opposition within the
Soviet Union to the new policy. This acts as an additional constraint. In fact
279
Margot Light
opposition comes from two different directions. There is considerable popular
opposition to the expansion of Soviet relations with the Third World, based to
a large extent on the view that 'charity begins at home' and that the Soviet
Union has been disadvantaged for long enough in its relations with the Third
World.43
The increasingly vocal conservatives represent the second direction from
which opposition is expressed to the new Soviet foreign policy. They object to
the surrender of old positions, and although their primary complaints concern
Germany, Eastern Europe and arms reductions, they also question the
withdrawal from Afghanistan and Soviet policy in the Gulf. Although the
military are generally careful in what they publish about foreign policy, the
speeches of military deputies in the Supreme Soviet and the Congress of
People's Deputies are frequently filled with fiery criticism. The Soyuz group of
deputies, and particularly Colonels Alksnis and Petrushenko, have begun to
publish their views.44 Shevardnadze's resignation speech in December I990
made it clear how strong he believed this opposition to be. The next few
months will indicate whether he was right.
If he was right, what will be the consequences for Soviet policy in the Third
World? And if perestroika survives, what are the likely trends in Soviet-Third
World relations? In fact, it is probable that domestic economic debility will act
as a constraint on Soviet policy in the Third World even if there is a return to
old thinking. The Third World may, of course, become an arena for
competition once again, but the Soviet Union will have very little with which
to compete. In any case, even if the clock is turned back in Moscow, it is
unlikely that it will be turned back elsewhere. Those socialist and socialist-
oriented countries that have already adopted democratic reforms will probably
be unwilling or unable to revert to previous methods. And while those that
have not adopted perestroika will, as now, be heavily dependent on the Soviet
Union, it will have little more to offer them than at present. The activist
policies of the I970S are unlikely to recur in the foreseeable future.
The same constraints will operate if perestroika survives. In other words,
the Soviet Union will continue to diversify its relations with the Third World,
but domestic economic problems and a lack of economic complementarity will
put limits on the expansion. Perhaps the real jokers in the pack are the likely
Third World policies of the
I5
successor states to the Soviet Union.
42
US policy was attacked in Pravda on 8 and I6 Feb. I99I; Krasnaya zvezda and Sovetskaya Rossiya
published criticisms of Soviet support for US policy on i6 Feb. I99I.
43
There are many examples in the stenographic reports of Supreme Soviet and Congress of People's
Deputies sessions. There are also many published articles. See, for example, B. Sergeev, 'Chelovek
prokhodit kak khozain', Argumenty ifakty, No. 37, I990, and V. Sobolev, 'Mutual liabilities', New
Times, No. 8, 1990, pp. 12-13.
44
'Ne mozhem otnesti eto k dostizheniyam nashei vneshnei politiki', Literaturnaya Rossiya, 12 Nov.
I990; 'Armiya i politika', Literaturnaya Rossiya, 14 Dec. I990.
280