REGIONAL ISSUES AT THE NOVEMBER MEETING: GORBACHEV'S OPTIONS

Created: 11/6/1985

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Regional Issues at the November Meeting: Gorbachev's Options

Summary

Moscow expects President Reagan to raise the issue of Soviet bloc -Unary activityhird World Marxist-Leninist states at his November Meeting with General Secretary Gorbachev, and Is preparing for this. Soviet authorities see the President's three-stage proposal for resolving conflict in these countries, which he presentedis address to the UK General Assembly,esign to shift the focus of world attention away frost SDI, undercut the Soviet global propaganda campaign keyed to "star wars" and nuclear holocaust, and justify arsied aid to "counterrevolutionaries." The Soviet leadership throughoutasteady resolve to defend its gains in the states mentioned by the Pres1dent--Afghanlstan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Angolaaragua--and has viewed consolidation ofcl*ent regimes In these countries as an essential element In

u ma expanding Soviet influence In the Third World. Gorbachevot deviating from this line. While the Soviets probably believe that time Is workingavor of consolidation of these regimes, they are aware of their present'weaknesses and will try to Ignite political backfires aimed at deflecting or redi outside support of anti-Marxist insurgencies.

At the November Meeting Gorbachev will have no interestthe armed conflicts In theseon the terais proposed by the President. Forit Is conceivable, although unlikely, thatsuggeston entirely differentin Afghanistan, Angola or Nicaragua. He willto promote arms control objectives or to containofake significant concessions to theon Third World Issues, although such considerationshis decision on whether toow-key approach to the

rs regional conflict problem or look to score propaganda pointsneetlng. Conceivably he Bight seek to constrain the supply

of Mobile surface-to-air Missiles and other weapon systemsfighting against Soviet clients. It Is possiblewill present "tension reduction" proposals designedareas of US vulnerability and capitalize on potential

longer-terM opportunities theee to advance their fortunes in the Third World.

1. President Reagan's address to the United Nationsput Moscow firmly on notice that the intends at the November meeting to pursue vigorously theSoviet bloc military activityfghanistan,Angola and Nicaragua. This message could hardly have

comeurprise to Soviet policymakers;

fevertneless, tne soviet press response demonstrates tnat tne move was an unwelcomed development. Soviet authorities see this step as an Initiative designed to shift the focus of attention away from SDI, undercut their global propaganda campaign keyed to "starnd pave the way for further US support of anti-Marxist insurgencies. They thenselves have no Interest whatever in settling the armed conflicts in these five "Socialist-oriented" states on the terms proposed by the President, which they must read as an invitation to dismantle Soviet Influence, abandon clients and repudiate support fordm in return for more economic aid from the

Marxist-Leninist Clients and Soviet Third World Policy

2. Consolidation of pro-Soviet Marxist-Leninist regimes In Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola and Nicaragua is an essential element of Moscow's continuing broad-gauged strategy for increasing Its influencehe Third World and acquiring new political and military bases from which to expand Soviet influence further. Levels of Soviet ni11tary -and economic assistance to these regimes have fluctuated considerably over the past five years, with economic aid clearly being squeezed by declining growth of Soviet GNP. The constant factor has been a

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tne ttniopians to mouiuccessful counterattack against Erltrean Insurgents and to rapidly recapture lost territory.

In Mozambique, the USSR1 has supplied0nilitary assistance. Soviet military assistance rose considerably

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Soviet actions over the past months have affirmed Gorbachev's apparent Intention to protect these cllent*regimes. Like his three predecessors, Gorbachev seems willing to furnish such military support as appears necessary--at least In the absence of great risk or significantly Increased costs--to ensure their survival. The USSR does face serious operational and logistical problems In conducting counter insurgency wars at great distances andnfamiliar situations, but these ventures are not that costly. Soviet military assistance, while large in absolute termsexcept for Afghan1stan--at the margin of existingstructure, stockpiles, and military

Despite Moscow's concern over the possibility of more forceful US Initiatives in the Third World, the Soviet leadership seems to believe that the United States and others who seek to frustrate Soviet efforts there are hemmed Inariety of constraints which, over the long run, will work against sustained effective opposition to Soviet aims. At the same time, the Soviets probably think1 be able to profit from certain major trends now visible in the International environment:

The fundamental shift in the regional "correlation of forces"outheast Asia that could arise with the loss of US bases In the Phih oruccessful communist revolution in that country.

The accelerating potential for serious revolutionary activityouth Africa.

Growing frustration over the US rolehe Middle East peace processossibly growing Inclination of moderateshe region to accept moreoviet role.

North/South tensions resulting from the debt problem and possible revolutionary upheavals, especially In Latin America.

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6. The Soviets are well aware, however, of the short run problems of their client states: economic crisis. Incomplete systemic and leadership Institutionalization, and military vulnerability to insurgent attack. They know Washington has provided steadily increased support for some resistance groups and can see Washington Is In the midstolicy debate over escalation of that assistance to other Insurgent groups. The clear reference in the President's address to support for democratic resistance forces is probably read by the Kremlin as an accurate indication of the administration's intent to up the military antenti-Marxist Insurgencies if thisolitically feasible.

7. Under these circumstances, the Soviets almost certainly

ttempt to continue to provide client regimes with levels of military assistance deemed adequate to prevent serious Insurgent challenge to client governments.

eek to generate political pressures that willoutside support for Insurgencies In client

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lay for timehich to strengthen political, social and economic controls in these regimes.

ry to distract world attention from the ant1-Marx 1st

Insurgencies by focusing on areas of US vulnerability and opportunity.

Runup to the November Meeting

ween now andovember Moscow will publicly attack

Reagan's proposal, strive to impose its own terms of

reference on discussion of regional Issues at the meeting, and lay the groundwork for subsequent exploitation of whatever positions Gorbachev advances in his talks with President Reagan.

9. Theoretically, Moscow could considerhand in the talks by attempting to inflict aor political defeat beforehand on freedom fightersor more of Its client states. Practically, however, time runn1n9 out and opportunities to score such avictory are not evidentevenoscow did decide to riskfor Its involvement In counter-insurgency efforts and

to expose the steel beneath Its current efforts to appear "reasonable."

10. The main arenas of Soviet activity, thus, are likely to be propaganda and more finely tuned political Influencective measures"). The most authoritative reaction to date to the President's comments on regional conflictis UN address has been Gorbachev's speechovemberinner for Ethiopian chief Mengistu. Gorbachev did not address the President's proposals directly, but

sserted that the charge of Soviet machinations 1n

Ethiopia and elsewhere in the Third World was an attempt to cover up US interference In these countries, obstruct their ties with the Soviet blochinder their free and Independentistract world attention from US encouragement of Israel and South Africa, and avoid addressing the nuclear arms control issue.

- Declared that the Soviet Union would continue to support Ethiopia.

the conventional Soviet propaganda appeal for channeling funds saveo from arms spending to Third World development needs.

Approved the resolution of the Organization of African Unity on turning Africauclear free zone and announced that the USSR would be prepared to observe Africa's nuclear free status and serveuarantor ofone.

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Lesser Soviet spokesmen have stated that the USSR will be willing to discuss regional conflicts at the November meeting, but have suggested that Moscow's agenda might Include US "state terrorism and imperialist interferencehe internal affairs of otherettlement of the Middle East conflict, and establ1shmentofvarious "zones of peace" and nuclear free

probably will wait to see how muchthe President gets before deciding whether morebefore the November meeting to put the United Statespropaganda defensive. Thus far, the Soviets appear

by statements from some Western leaders and Prime

rs Minister Gandhi that the primary focus of the Novemberbe arms control, not regional conflicts. If the

President's proposal does not achieve much International resonance, the Soviets could very well decide to play it down in their own propagandahoping others will Ignorer write it off ashetorical maneuver.

Soviet Behavior at the November Meeting: Gorbachev'sps

realizes that, whateveright wish, itthe United States from raising the Issue offor discussion at the November meeting. revolve around (a) acceptance or not of anySoviet behavior in the Third World and achievement of

objectiveshe bilateral US/USSR relationship.

Mei>il<iSYn including arms control agreements; (b) whether there Isall to be gained from even discussing the possibility of

negotiations over Insurgencies in one or more of the five Soviet client states mentioned in the President's address; (c) how actively to engage the President in talking about regional conflict; andbeyond thethe best way is to turn the regional conflict theme against the United States,

Linkage with the US/USSR Bilateral Relationship and Arms Talks

are no compelling reasons fromto give up gains already achievedhecountries or elsewherehe Third World out ofenticing Washington to agree to more favorable terms In Soviet America watchers would hardlyenough to offer their leadership assurances aboutconcessions might gain from Washington, and Gorbachevnot be able politically to "give away thevenwanted to, which he does not. The Sovietractical natter, however, that there

between flagrant Soviet support of "national

liberation" activitieshe Third World andof arsis control issues. For this reason It mayto exercise tactical caution In its support of,of, counterlnsurgency effortsts client states;may choose at the November meeting to argue that it acting prudently with respect, for example, toa,on9 the Pakistan border or to military supply of Nicaragua. of linkage at the November meeting by the United States

and pressedommitment to future responsible behavior, the Soviets will probably restate their general principle of support for revolutionary movements. But conceivably they might decide that calculated ambiguity or assertions that "revolution cannot be exported" could be perceived in this context by the United States as tadt consent to restrain specific possible futureexample, military supply of guerrillasouth Africa or the New Peoples' Army In the Philippines. ill^iill^ij

Deflecting the Issue?

previous exchanges with Western leadersdealt with their attempts to raise Third World Issueslistening and quietly reiterating Soviet positions. do the same with the President at the Novemberhe could reaffirm agreement that the foreign ministers continue and Institutionalizebegun this year on regional Issues. The objectiveto terminate the discussion as quickly as possible andto arms control. trategy would help muffleconflict theme, display Soviet "statesmanship,"potential tensions that might arise between the USSRregimes if serious talks were initiated with the However, the strategy would not provide much offor post-meeting propaganda and activeinwo>onswould leave the Initiative with Washington.

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a more activist stance, Moscow might useof regional Issues at the meeting to scoreagainst the United States while attempting tounease with appearing to act hypocritically or Picking up themes already in Sovietcould try to put the President off balance byhim of instigating "state terrorism" againstto the USSR, of preparing to crank up aid to the"puppet" Savimbi, of supporting South African racismagainst Its neighbors, of working with Israelinterests, of backing military dictatorships In Chilein Latin America, or of exacerbating Thirdby deploying nuclear-armed vessels throughout Such an approach might win kudos for Gorbachev among

elements In the Soviet elite, but would risk

[flUtsi generating unwanted controversy over Soviet blocactivitieshe Third World and might be seen byas likely to spoil an atmosphere at the meeting

otherwise more conducive to American concessions on arms control questions.

Recasting the Entire Debate

obvious option open to Gorbachevo try toUSno win" position by presentingproposals that are not transparentlybut acceptance of which would constrain USprojection capabilities, weaken US political Influence,the Soviet presence in the Third World. Ifto accept the proposed negotiating agenda, so much the

In'Ifrom the Kremlin's standpoint. But Moscow's main aim

be to position Itself to (a) link US rejection of the

proposals with US "bellicosity* In "star wars" and use this indictment to fan antl-American 1sm in Western Europe and the Third World, and (b) to advance political Initiativeshe Third World calculated to exploit US vulnerabilities.

statement Issuedeeting of leaders ofPactate October, together with Gorbachev'sa letter from the Club of Rome on the International ovember speech, probably provide some clues aboutthat would be Includedet of We might see calls for:

code of conduct" for the Third World based on "respect for national Independence and sovereignty, nonuse of force or the threat of force. Inviolability of borders, territorial integrity, peaceful solution oftc.

Resumption of the conventional arms transfer talks.

n International effort to effect dismantlement of

foreign military basesithdrawal of forces from foreign territories.

he convening under UN auspices of an international conference on the Arab-Israeli dispute.

n Invitation to the US to Join with the USSRromoting an Asian Collective Security pact.

ecognition of "zones of peace" and nuclear free zones in the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, Africa, Indian Ocean and South Pacific.

Approval of principles of North/South trade that paid lip

service to the Third World's "New International Economic Order" initiative.

Musculations under UN auspices dealing with the Third

debl Problem.

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pproval lobal program for sharing high technology.

We rate the chances of the Soviets presenting some set of

"tension-reduction" proposals at the November meeting Whatever the particular mix of proposals may be,

iVrs lPe Package would be designed not only to deflect attentionReagan's regional conflict agenda, but actively to

advance longer-term strategems of capi taing on the perceived

opportunities noted just above.

Negotiating One or More Conflicts Mentioned by the President

rom Moscow's perspective, the President's proposal implies actions which are either-undamental opposition to Soviet Interests, or are unlikely to succeed:

Promotion of negotiations between client Marxist regimes and Insurgents. The Soviets have tried but apparently failed to achieve negotiations In Ethiopia; they are probably uninterested in either having such talks or pressuring Cuba to engineer them in Angola and Nicaragua; and they are probably skeptical about the prospects of achieving serious talks with the Mujahedeenfghanistan, or between the two opposed Cambodian factions even If they wanted to pursueack.

emocratization of these five states. This path wouldomplete reversal of efforts by the Soviets and

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their bloc partners to build single-party Marxist-Leninist systems of rule.

ithdrawal of bloc military support of clients, with 'verification. Pursuit ofove would lead to col lapse of cllent regimest least Afghanistan and Angola, serious loss of Influence with Vietnam, probably loss of presence In Ethiopia, and major conflict with Cuba.

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xpanded trade and aid relations between client regimes and Western partners" Whfle the Sovietsertain amount of suchintercourse as unavoidable and even desirable, their long-term objectiverecisely to reduce the structural economic dependence of their clients on the West and strengthen integration of those countries in the Sovietj

19. Perhaps the only positive aspects of the President's proposal from Moscow's standpoint are its Implicit acceptance of the USSR's rolehe Third Worlduperpower and potential co-guarantor with the United States of agreements, and acceptance by Washington of non-intervention principles that might constrain future US actions. Conceivably those pluses, supplementing more concrete cost/benefit calculations (Including the benefits to be gained from simply being seen to be engagedegotiating process withight lead Gorbachev to explore talks about some of the insurgencies mentioned by the President. It Is difficult to imagine why Moscow would broach the subject of Ethiopia or Cambodia, but scenarios Involving the three other countries are not totally Implausible:

fghanistan. The objective here would be to draw or create"tne" Illusion of drawing the United States Into discussion of "guarantees- be fore the initiation of talks between the Karmal regime and the Mujahedeen, with the aim of eroding Pakistan's confidence in US staying power and Pakistani resistance to direct talks with the Afghans, and creating doubts among the Mujahedeen about the continuation of external support.

" Angola. The Soviets might restate their theoretical acceptance of at least partial Cuban evacuation from Angola In return for withdrawal of South African support for UNITA, combined with implementation ofuaranteeing free elections in Namibia supervised by the UN. The gain wouldrobable SWAPO victory In Namibia; but the Soviets probably would doubt that the US could deliver the South Africans, and they would feel that the MPLA could not handle UNITA one-on-one even though they might be more heartened by FAPLA's performance In this year's offensive.

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icaragua/El Salvador. Any Soviet counter-proposalbe conditioned by the need for gaining Cubancollaboration, which could well proveobstacle. No doubt the Soviets wouldto trade withdrawal of Western support forfreedom fighters for Soviet withdrawal ofthe insurgencyl Salvador; butsconceive how they would visualizeeal The Soviets might see hints ofseful active measures tactic aimed atresolve. Similarly, while they wouldof Sandinista power in Nicaragua asimportant than legitimation of limitedthe FMLN in electoral politics in El Salvador, might see hints of talks between Moscow andreciprocal Incorporation of insurgents into the

political process of both countrieseans of sowing doubt in Central America about the US commitment to El Salvador, and encouraging Congressional opposltIon to further US support for the contras. ii^ii^ii^ii^^

20. The level of sophistication and destructlveness of weapon systems Introduced into Third World conflictsuestion which Soviet policymakers Inevitably must address. As we suggest below, itonceivable they might see some utilityroaching this Issuelobal level in the contextroposal to renew the conventional arms transfer talks. But they also might see an advantage in raising the questionegional basis. acker of counterinsurgency warfare in the five countries mentioned by the President, the Soviets now have an obvious interest in reducing the flow to Insurgents of anti-armor weaponryurface-to-air missiles and heavy machlneguns capable of downing helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The problem from the Soviet standpoint would be to find something to trade--openly/or tacitly--ior restraint on the part of their opponents. Itonceivable that Soviet policy planners might entertain the possibility of offering to trade continued restraint in the bloc's supply of such weapons to guerrillas in El Salvador for future restraint In weapons available to the contrasicaragua. Less plausible wouldoviet attempt to gain US agreement to seek restraint in the types of weapons that might get to insurgentsfghanistan or perhaps even in Angola by means of an offer of Bloc restraint, for example,verall military delivers to Nicaragua or of Soviet restraintactive pursuit" along the Pakistan border. It is highly unlikely that the Soviets would Initiate discussion of US restraint anywhereeturn for an understanding, however vague, about possible future Soviet non-supply of arms to South African dissidents or Communist Insurgents in the Philippines.

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