MEMORANDUM FOR: Director of Central Intelligence
Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
Herbert E. Meyer
Vice Chairman, National Intelligence Council
Nhy Is the World So Dangerous?
The level of global violence hat risen as sharply and as suddenlyemperature. In just the last severale Have seen the shoot-don of KAi, the assassination of BeMgno Aquino, the fn-rderous decapitation of South Korea's leadership in Rangoon, the terrorist bombings of US, French, and Israeli soldiers In Lebanon, the Libyan invasion Of Chad, and the anti-Bishop couprenada that ultimately triggered our own successful action on that island. What makes these acts of violence so especially disturbing is their common denominator: each has hurt the citizens, governments, or interests of the Free World.
Clearly, the world hasuch more dangerous place. Wc need to know why. Are these acts of violence somehow linked, or traceable to the same malevolent source? Or should we dismiss the present trenderies of frightening, tragic, but unconnected events whose one-after-another timing is mere coincidence?
I believe the current outbreak of violence is more than coincidence. Moreelieveignals the beginningew stage in the global struggle between the free World and the Soviet Union. My contention restserception that present US policies have fundamentally changed the course of historyirection favorable lo the interests and security of ourselves and our allies. What weseeing nowoviet-led effort to fight back,he sane sense that the Mafli fights back when law enforcement agencies launch an effective crime-busting program, let me concede right nowannot prove thisf your definition of proof is restricted to Intercepts, photographs, and purloined documents. Of course these things matter. They matter hugely. 'tW to truly understand an alien phenomenon like the Soviet Union, one needs to goisting of facts; one needs also toeap of imagination:
If four years ago the Soviet leadership had asked my counterpart call him Vice Chairman of the Soviet National Intelligence Councilor his evaluation of the globalelieve ry counterpart would have
replied: I'm delighted to report moving steadily in our direction." Heo support his upbeat analysis: that the correlation of forcesave cited the following trends
US economy was faltering.
US defense spending was too low to truly assure the nation's security.
The Soviet Union hadechanism for the steady flow o? wealth from West to East.
The Soviet Union hadompanion mechanism to assure the steady flow of technology from West to East.
The Soviet Union, through the effective use of surrogates such as Cuba and Vietnam, hadechnique for spreading its influence throughout the Third World by targeting fragile countries, destabilizing them, and Swiftly taking over.
Through the massive deployment ofhe Soviets were changing the balance of power In Europe.
In more and more countries, policymakers, elites, and the masses were coming to accept the Soviets' lorg-stending claim that time was on their side; that one reeded only to align with Moscow to be on the winning team.
5. Were the Vice Chairman of the Soviet Katlonal Intelligence Council called In by the Kremlin's leaders, say inrd asked for hiselieve he would haveery different song: e would have said,has gore wrong. The US is refusing to accept history!" Assuming our Vice Chairman were allowed to continuend thisloody big assumptione would have cited the following trends to support his downbeat analysis:
The US economy Is recovering, with the only argument
focusing on the breadth and duration of the boom. (The
vice chairman, who enjoyed the privilege of access to US
business publications, could not understand their failure
to discuss the awesome national-security implications of a
onth,ercent Vise in the Dow-Jones Industrial
Average, combinedowering of the annual
rate to lessercent.)
US defense spendingp, wilh the debate in Congress and on the campaign hustings focusing only on the proper size of the 1ncre.se. (The vice chairman had in his briefing bookut chose not to read aloudetter Dwlght
E1senho*er wrote to General Lucius Clay "One of the great and immediate uses of the military forces we arc developingoeeling of confidence to oposedonfidence which will mate therr- sturdier, politically, in their opposition to Communist Inroad's.*)
The flow cf wealth from the Vest lo the last is less than the Soviets had anticipated it would be by now. (The vice chairmaneep breath and pointed out that Moscow's most audacious project, the Siberia to Western Europe pipeline, had been literally cut in half by US opposition; after all, the pipeline was originally to have co-xprised two strands, and lately no one either In Western Europe or the Soviet Union had even mentioned that second strand.)
The flow of technology from West to East Is less than the Soviets had anticipated It would be by now. In part, by reducing the flow of wealth the US also reduced the Soviet Union's ability to buy equipment and know-how. And the US-led crack-down on illegal technology transfers hadrimp in that key effort. (The Vice Chairman thought sadly but did not take the liberty of complalrlng thatulsions ofGB agents from Western countries, mostly on technology transfer-related charges, had wiped out the KG6's welcomearty fund.)
The Soviet mechanism for spreading power through the Third World, whileonsiderable threat to Western security, has run Into unexpected resistance. Soviet textbooks Insist that entl-$ov1et Third World Insurgencies cannot develop. Yet3 there are five of themn Nicaragua, Mozambique, Angola, Kampuchea and Afghanistan. Thus Moscow can no longerhird-World country and assume that no serious resistance will develop. Most worrisome of all is the shocking setback in Grenada. (The vice chairman bit his tongue to keep from pointing out that the Soviet Union believed deeply in the domino theoryand that one ofad just toppled over.)
With deployment now certain of Pershing lis end cruise missiles, NATO Is about to change the balance of power In Europe back tovor- * chairman had read'rYHght time to Moscow wasinutesMch, he thought to himself, is roughly how long it takes sorre of the Kremlin's leaders to get out-of their chairs, let alone to their shelters.)
And most dangerous of all, by describing the Soviet Union as "the focus of evil" i President Reagan has tlnglehardedly deployed the one weapon for wMch the
Soviets lack evenrudimentary defense: the truth. (Thechairmanents! note toriend at the USA and Canada Institute ho- It happened that the Republican Reagan had made good against thehreat made against the Republicanshe Democrat Adlil StevensonZ: "If you don't stop telling lies about us, we'll start telling the truth about you.')
r/ot suchctuall, took place, It'loviet leaders had sufficient evidence to conclude that USfundamentally changed course, and was now moving fndirectionto Soviet national
J. Froo Moscow's perspective, the Immediate danger would be the taking holderception among leaders and voters throughout the West, but particularlyhe US, that this new course was not only fight but also successful. Surely Western politiciansspecially those up for re-election
would chortle: "row see, we were exactly right to stand up to the Russians. We are defending our own Interests more effectively now, and It's working." The Inevitable result of this approach would be precisely what Soviet leaders dreaded most: widespread public support for the new US course and,ontinuation or even an acceleration of it.
Moscow's chief objective were to knock the US off Itsmost likely strategy would be to discredit tMs course throuoh
Raise the level of violence, thus making theore dangerous place. (Keep In mind that US tolerance of violence has declined markedly during the lastears.)
-- Attribute the Increased violence and danger to the
inevitable result of reckless US policies. (It could be safely assumed that members of the US media and other elites would swiftly pick up and amplify this theme.)
Hope that voters winhange of course, either by replacing the Incumbent leaders or forcing them to adopt more 'moderate" policies,
implement this strategy, the Soviets would not need to commiteveryof violence thewelves. They would comrit some, arrangeto be committed by surrogates or allies, and generally createin which violence flourishes. This last element wouldfruitful, for there are always those who stand ready to murdercause or another when the timing seems right.
or nol this Soviet strategy succeedshe short term,the current outbreak of violencearbinger of things tome begin with an assertion that seems startling, but that Is acceptedby
at leasten Soviet specialists and generally well Informednow, whose political views and affiliations range across the spectrum: If the Soviet Onion does not achieve Us ambition to displace the US as the world's pre-eminent power withinvery roughlyhe nextears, the Soviet Union will never succeed. Among the analytic points supporting this assertion:
The Soviet Union has failed utterly toountry. After sixty-six years of cc-naunlst rule, the Soviet Unionineteenth-century-style empire, comprised of moreationality groups and dominated by the Russians. There Is not one major nationality group thatontent with the present, Russian-controlled arrangement; not one that does not yearn for its political and economic freedom. It's hard to imagine how the world's last empire can survive Into the twenty-first century except under highly favorable conditions of economics and demographicsonditions that do not, and will not, exist.
The Soviet ecc^ony is heading toward calamity. With an average annual growth rate of lessercent, and with defense spending going up at an average annual rateercent, something fairly drastic has got to give, and fairly soon. atter of simple arithmetic. Moreover, sharply rising energy costs will make even current growth rates difficult to sustain. It Is Inevitable that If present economic trends continue, living standards will decline, perhaps to post-Worlo Var II levels. We have all been warned by thenever to under-estlmate the Russians' capacity foryself have published articles on this very subject. But thereailt, and that limit is coming closer every year.
The Soviet Unionemographic nightmare. Today only about half the country's population can speak Russian; for an Industrialized, technologicalanced society, this Is Intolerable. Moreover, so low has been the Russian birthrate that in coming years the able-bodied working-age populaticn of the Russian Republichich contains roughly two-thirds of the Soviet Union's total Industrial productkn capacity y actually decline. This Is notrop In the^rowth rate; itrophe total number of warm bodies showing uprnlng, drunk or sober, for work. Moreover, high birthrates in-the Moslem republics have begun to soak up vast amounts of Investment for schools, hospitals, roads, and so forth. Thus, fewer and fewer Russians must work harder and harder to support more and more non.Russians. This sort of thinj cannot go on indefinitely.
The East European satellites arere and more difficult to control. Already economic growth rates In the key satellites are marginal, non-exlstant, or negative. These rates will decline further as the Soviet Union.moves to Insulate Itself from the rising costs of empire by squeezing Us satellites harder, for example by raising the
prices of Its raw materials and paying its satellites less for the finished goods the Soviet Union then buys. Economic trouble leads Inevitably to political unrest, so the question is not whether Moscow's difficulties will mount but rather how bad things will get. We are all familiar with the situationoland. But other satellites may be closer to their own political boiling points than we realize. Romania has Just announced massive cutbacks In electric power. Including the shutting down of all schools for the month of January along with pressures on consumer* to stop using vacuum cleaners, washing wchlnes, anO refrigerators. Andast Germanyidely regarded as among the most stable and securehe Comnunist Party dally Heues Oeutschlanc,n astounding ideological departure, publishec In its Octoberdition two letters from clergymen who expressed their fears about new Soviet missiles. In all, it seems likely that the Soviets wiTY need to use raw military power somewhere in Eastern Europe before too long; they may need to use suth power In several satellites at once.
The Soviet leadership simply cannot make the changes necessary to either reverse these trends or cope with them. Kremlin leaders could boost their country's economic growth rate only by slashing the defense budget or by enacting massive economic reforms. Either remedy would threaten the Communist Party's grip on power, thus neither remedy has the slightest chance of being administered. The demographic nightmare is equally difficult to end. Moscow cannot transfer Industrial-production capacity from the Russian to the non-Russian, and especially non-Slav, republics. Doing so would give these republics more power over Moscow than Moscowilling to risk. And Moscow cannot import workers to Russian factories from Moslem republics because these workers (a) don't speak Russian, (b) don't want to cone, and (c) would be bitterly resented by Russian workers, who would be required to share scarce housing and food with individuals they view as racially Inferior.
Two Kremlinood measure of Moscow's domestic impotence. To boost the birth rate among Russian women who average six abortions, according to recent, highly credible'researcn the Soviet Union has decided to offer Glory of Motherhood awards to women'who bear large families. And to reform the world's second largest economy, Kremlin leaders just lastered the execution, for corruption, of the poor devil who managed Gastronome No.oscow's gourmet delicatessen. These feeble and pathetic actions are net thosejnaric orealing leadership responding to national emergency. They bring to mind neither Roosevelt3 nor Reaganut rather Nicholas II
13. In sum,it not on the Soviet Union's side. This assertionwidely accepted among Western observers, as I've noted JutImplications have scarcely been absorbed. To do so we need to"V'
We have all known Individuals who have come to recognize that time ll
corporation vice present ihl regies
r oM ^'ldless woman whoke at night, listening to the relentless ticking of her biological dock-
r?oinU'"h0 no- "allies that with just two weeks left before election day. that lead may be too big to close The percept one is no longer on one's sideeeks or e" ylU,
two ways to cope with the perception that
tl rJliL! t? rv*"0 lccept thereality,edyced gelations: lifeld-level corporate managero bed. there are advantages to not having children. U'U be
one wants. This, too. is quite often an honorable and perfectly sensible approach, But fthenomenon ofti.re that from the moment one concludes that time Is an enemy and that the proper response Is to go for'*hanged. Ideas and actions that were unthinkable the day before are no* quit, thinkable^tn appealing. Why? Bec.use the alternative is failure, and this Is judged to be unacceptable. Ambitious, seemingly defeated mid-level business executives who have taken desperate and daring measures populate our corporate boardrooms. They populate our prisons, too. The year-old single woman whohild beforeusband has gorecandalational trend. And the history of desperate
How let it consider the implication of our assertion thathe Soviet Union doesn't take the West in the nextttn or so, it never will: it means that if present trends continue, we're going to win the Cold War. That is. the US will continue to be the world's pre-eMnent power and the Free World will both survive and flourish.
What matters hereot whether US observers believe this, but rather whether Our perception is shared by Soviet officials. No doubt there are son* tn Moscow who view the Uturt with confidence. And probably there are some who see trouble ahead, but who take an ap_res-mol-le-deluge attitude. But it seems to me Inevitable that some^ciiVt^ffciaH
possibly at the very top, more likely at the third or fourth levelow view their empire's future as bleak. And of those officials It teems equally Inevitable that while some will opt to accept the Inevitable, to to speak, others will be less fatalistic. Their argument would run like this: Ours is an unstable political systca, held together solely by terror andforce. Peaceful political change Is utterly alien to Russia. The alternative to roving forward Is not standing still, but falling backward. Thus when we lose our forward momentum and begin to suffer reversals, our empire will crumble swiftly and violently. We who are the elite llkt every totalitarian elite that has cone beforeill be swept away. And unlike the elite that we swept away7 so many of whose members wound up driving taxis In Parise will wind up swinging from lamp-posts in every city from Leningrad to Vladivostok.
They could decide to go for It: to launch oneeries of actions designed to change the correlation of forces befores too late to do so. In thisouldrab for the Persian Gulf, and possiblyonventional or nuclear bolt-from-ihe-blue first strike on Western Europe or perhaps on the US. o rot predict these actions. erely predictnd this Is worrisome enoughhat to some Soviet officials such actions may no longer be too risky to contemplate.
It has long been fashionable to view the Cold Warermanent feature of global politics, one that will endure through the neat several generations at least. But il seems to me more likely that President Reagan was absolutely correct when he observed in his Notrespeech that the Soviet Unionone of history's saddest and most bizarre chapters"s entering Its final pages, (we really should lake up the President's suggestion to begin planningost-Soviet world; the Soviet Union and its people won't disappear from the planet, and we have not yet thought seriously about the sort of political and economic structure likely to emerge.) In short, the Free World has out-distanced the Soviet Union economically, crushed It ideologically, and held it off politically. The only serious arena of competition left Is military. From now on the Cold War will become more and awreare-knuckles street fight.
Herbert E. Heyer
e should be optimistic, for If present trends continue we will win. Put we pust also be on guard, for It Is all too likely that Incumbent or future Soviet leaders will not choose to await their fates quietly while their empire completes Us shattering descent Into history. The current outbreak of violence may thus berelude to the most dangerous years we have ever known.
MEMORANDUM FOR: Director of Central Intelligence
Deputyector of Central Intelligence
Vice Chairman, National Intelligence Council Why Is the World So Dangerous?Original document.