Central Intelligence Agency Directorate of7
Soviet Foreign Policy at the Crossroads
Although Soviet comments in public andcontinue to emphasize the importance of East-West cooperation, in recent weeks there has been an increasingly harsh and discordant note in Soviet statements and behaviorariety of issues. The differences in approach and tone between opposing aspects of Soviet policy are so striking as to raise the possibility of leadership differences on detente as welliffusion of central direction ond oven authority within the Soviet leadership. In viow of General Secretary Brezhnev's myriad health problems--particularly his uneven performance in Paris two weeks ago--it is time to examine whether newlypower relationships among top Soviet leaders havo emboldened critics of Brezhnev's detonto policy to try to exert greater influence on the shaping of Soviet foreign policy.
Thia speculative eoeay exanineo the pooaibility of proaouro on the ourrant Soviet leadership to rnooo away from previoue guidelinae on the importance of Eant-tfeot cooperation. Commonto are welcome and may be addraaoed to the author,I ' ' '
The Leitmotif of Soviet Propaganda
A rocent exchange of views in Soviet party journals on the issue of East-Host cooperation tends to support the conclusion,ebate has been going on within the Kremlin on the conduct of foreign affairs. An article late last yoar In the communist party journal Kommunist by V. V. Zagladin, tho deputy chief of the central conmit-toe's International Department, and I. T. Frolov, thon chief editor of the monthly magazine of the Institute of Philosophy, argued for "intensive economic and scientific-technical cooperation of st'tes with different social systems" as wellsmashing of old customs andabout global problems. They concluded that East-West collaboration couldariety of economic and social issues and, in an apparent aside to internal critics, argued that cooperation would not mean aof class struggle as all kinds of 'leftists' sometimes try to portray." (Emphasis added.)
In April of this year, one of the co-authors of this polemical article, Frolov, lost his chief editorship and was replaced by V. S. Semenov, whose writings have been much more conservative than those of his predecessor. That samo month, V. V. Kortunov, writing in the Journal of Soviet party history, challenged the moderate Frolov-Zagladin thesis. Kortunov denounced cooperative efforts to cope with global problems, which he said ignored tho "division of the world into two systems" and provided "in the final analysis only for the salvation ofortunov, who apparently was one of tho "leftists" FtoIov and Zagladin had in mind, until recently servedersonal assistant to former president Podgorny.
Moscow Goes on tho Offensive in tho West
In view of Kortunov's militant stance, Podgorny's oustor from tho Politburo the following month might have boen interpretedetback for the policy preferences of Kremlin hardliners. So far, this has not been the case Since Podgorny's removal from tho Politburo and presidency thoro has boon an acceleration of an ongoing Sovietoffensive ovor thoir relations with the US, European communists, the Japaneso communist party, and tho PRC.
Tho Soviots have been particularly hard on President Cartor, whom they regard as the inspiration for recent foreign and domestic criticism of the USSR. oviot Journalist recently claimed, according*-that their propaganda offensive was=
combat the President's "domagogy" on human rights.
Brezhnev himself recently told
that Moscow was "astonished" by presidentosi-tionariety of issues. The Soviet"press, spurredonse of Soviet vulnerability to Mr. Carter's policies, has attacked the new US president by name only six months after his assumption of office. These personal attacks have been accompanied by an increase in Soviet warnings that US policies are threatening to undermine detente.
More recontly, the Soviets also made two stinging personal attacks on Spanish communist leader Santiago Carrillo, actions which will further soriously strained relations with the Spanish party and have complicated Moscow's relations with the French and Italian parties ns well. The attack had no parallol in Moscow's past quarrels with the independent-minded Wostorn parties, nnd appeared to refloct Soviet frustration with their failure to silence critics among the Eurocommunists.
These Soviot attacks were reminiscentard-lino articlo on communist party tactics that appeared inndersonal endorsement from Brezhnev. The article, written by the editor of the international communist journal Problems of Peace and Socialism, Konstantin Zarodov, argued that the West European parties should put revolutionary integrity ahead of cooperation with non-communist parties and should not lot democratic procedures stand in the way of seizing power. Several weeks after the appearance of the article in Pravda, the Soviet press announced that Brezhnev hadighly unusual meeting with Zarodov. This peculiar event suggested that Brezhnev then felt he needed to appease political pressuro from tho right.
. .nd on tho Offonsive in the East
Evon before Moscow's detorminod effort to silence its foreign critics in the West, thcro wns tho beginning
ropaganda campaign in theell. Less than two weeks boforc Podgorny's abrupt ouster from thePravda unleashed the most vitupcrativo attack on tho Clunoso leadership sinco Mao's doath Inst year. Tho orticlo in Pravda boro the signature "I.n indication that it carried the Soviet leadership's stamp of approval, and seemed to convey tho Kremlin's pessimism and frustration, this time with the policy dlroctions of the new reglmo in Peking. The article was dosignod-co discourage ony US consideration of arms sales to China, according
The Aleksandrov articlo was followedoreign Ministry note, which was publicised two days after Podgorny's ouster, objectingounting campaign ofgainst the USSR in Poking. It is highly unusual for Moscow tooroign Ministry noteeneral protest against Chinese polemics. In recent yoors, publicized protests have been pegged to specific incidents, such as Peking's expulsion of Soviet diplomats on espionage charges4 or its detentionoviot helicopter and crow that same year. Tass handling of the protest suggested thnt it was designed for world opinion more than for tho Poking leadorship.
Speakingremlin dinnor in honor ofZhivkov onrozhnevonorel indictment of Peking's policios. that there were forces both "inside and outsldowho want to worson Sino-Soviet relations andtonslons, presumably addressing histhe US and
Last month, tho Soviets also went out of their way to worsen relations with the Jopanese communist party. In an authoritative Pravda editorial articlo, tho Soviets rojected the Japanese party's claim that the Northern Territories rightfully belong to Japan.
Moscow 'fightons Up at Home
In addition tooterminod effort to silence their foroign criticsariety of issues, tho Soviets aro turning tho screws on their internal critics as well
ns thoso Americans who have boon connected with them. If tho Soviets follow through on their threats against arrested Jewish activist Anatoly Shcharansky, who is being chargod with treason, he would bocono the first dissidont loader to bo tried on charge* of such gravity under tho Brothnov rogimo. Similarly, AmericanRobert Toth was the first Western reporter since the beginning of the human rights controversy to bo subjected to policy interrogation and the implicit-throat of trial nnd imprisonment. Moro recontly, an American dofenso attache was stopped ond searched in Moscow's Rod Square. This occasionally happens in the provinces but rarely in Moscow.
The actions taken against Shcharansky and Toth are of course related, and they wore clearly meant to have' an impact beyond the cases of those two individuals. The Soviets are bent on stifling contacts between Soviotand foreign journalists by warning both groups of tho possible cost of their actions. Moscow also wonts to destroy tho domestic appeal of thc dissidents by depicting them as creatures of foreign intorosts, particularly.
More recently, the Soviots disclosed that Aleksander Ginsburg, once one of the USSR's most active dissidents, would be charged with onti-Soviet activity, whichaximum ponolty of seven yoars imprisonment and five additional years of intornal oxllo.*
The Role of the KGB
There are two worrisome aspects of this campaign which suggest that reactionary forces are asserting thomselves within the leadership and trying to inhibit increased coop-oration with the West.
dissident Yuri Orlov, whoroup Inst yoar to monitor Soviet compliance with the human rights guarantees of tho Helsinki accords,imilar charge.
--Tho first ospoct is the incrcasod use of the KGB to control internal dissidonce, which was particularly manifest during the crudeof Toth.
--The socond is the blatantly anti-Semitic aspect of the harrassment of tho most of whom are also JewishMoscow clearly crying to exploit traditional Russian bias against Jews. US embassyand journalists, who have been cited, wore also Jewish in nearly every case.
Soviet authorities have obviously docided that it isxtirpating organized dissidonce even at the cost of a' great deal of unfavorable publicity in the West.
Thereariety of explanations of these recent signs of Soviet xenophobia, and some tend to imply that Brezhnev's pollcios ore being challenged within thoand that as at other times in the past the Soviet leadership has decidedor indeed has beenore conservative tack on external issues. There is also the increased evidonce of political uncertainty andin the Kremlin as well as the possibility that there will be other major changes within the leadership in the wake of Podgorny's ouster.
One obvious explanation for bumptious Soviet rhetoric for the past two months has been Moscow's frustration snd possible anxiety over the paucity of significant foreign policy successes over the past year, particularly in thoso areas where Brezhnev has some personal attachment and is thus vulnerable. The Soviets appear to be disoriented by US diplomatic initiatives and act as if they arc unsure how to react to them.
In sum, Brezhnev's critics ore likely to feel that many things are going wrong and some of them may have made the judgmente party chief can no longer copeong string of rovorses. The Soviet relationship with tho US is continuing to doteriorate without commensurate
cnln3 oisowhovo In tho Kost. Tho issues stemming from thc European socurity conference5 have proved troublosono, nnd Moscow is clearly on the dofonslvo ot the preparatory mootlngs In Belgrado because of tho hunan rights issue. The Soviets are also plaguod by dissension among the West European communist parties and have thus far been unable tonifiod Soviet bloc appronch to tho challcngo of Eurocommunism. In addition to thoso difficulties, the leadership is contendingluggish economy and continued food distribution problems, with more serious economicon tho horizon.
Certainly tho timing of some of Moscow's rocont moves can bo explained by tho Belgrade mooting. ThoSoviets were anxious to head off any Western efforts at the conference to formalize an indictment of Sovietpractices, which would explain recent propaganda attacks and throats to stage show trials of leading dissident figures. Soviot wnrnings ond punitive actions arc designed to inhibit the activities of the activists at home as well as to inform adherents of detente that the future of East-West cooperation may not be bright.
At the same time, these harsher Soviot statements are apparently designed to cater to more consorvativo forces at home as well as to intimidate opponents abroad. The attack on Carrillo, for example, is at odds with the professed Soviet intorost in dotente and may have boen intondedtop to Brezhnev's senior rivals within the Politburo--particularly chief ideologue M. A. Suslov, who is tho senior member of the Politburo in terms of service. The shrill statements on human rights and the pressure on the dissidents at home would also be ingratiating to such forces on the right as Suslov and candidate Politburo mem-bor P. M. Masherov. The criticism of the US has recontly boen accelerated despite US willingness to blunt the extent to which it is in fact pressing the USSR on many human rights issues.
Tho Brezhnev-Suslov Relationship
Thc possibility that criticism from thofrom Suslov--may be proving toroblom for
Brozhnov ia rofloctod in the draft constitution text, which takos sovorol bows in tho intcrosts of tho senior party secretary. Tho first throe "tasks" identiflod for tho current stage of the USSR's development aro placed in tho field of idoology, Suslov's bailiwick. Also important symbolically is the fact that,rief foreign policy soction, tho plodge to peacofulranked behind support for national-liberation struggles, another point congenial to the party's old man.
Brezhnev and Suslov have also apparently disagreed on the permanence of the arrangement by which Brozhnev holds both the Gonoral Secretaryship and the Presidency. Suslov, when he proposed the move, asserted that the party plenum in May had found it expodiont for Brezhnov to hold both jobs. Brezhnev in effect contrndictod him, claiming that the plenum had decided to comb tne tho two Jobs. Undor Suslov's formulation, BrozKnoV co'uTd be" serai-retired to the Presidency aloneuture plenum decision Under Brezhnov'suture plenum would have to separate the two jobs again before he could be semi-retired The plenum rosolution has not been published, but Pravda has used tho Brezhnev formulation, indicating that the natter has, at least temporarily, boon resolved infavor. Nevertheless, this public exchange suggests that Brozhnev has not yet consolidated his politicalin taking over the Presidency, and that he may face continued challenge from Suslov on thisn time when his health may bo wenker.
Following Brezhnev's trip to Paris,
Misxov nay pa
the most important ngure in tno aovr it hierarchy at the
momont. While this judgmont is probably somowhnt oxag-goratod, Suslov has in fnct boonrominent rolo since the party plenum and was rumored to haveey part in the removal of Podgorny from the Politburo. There are signs that Suslov's influence has increased in rocent months ond wo would oxpoct any pny-off to him to bo in tOTms of policy oriontatlon rather than In political position.
Soviot Policy Diroction
If Suslov has recently been able to increase his already considerable influence over tho direction of foreign policy, this vould help to explain roccnt harsh Soviot gostures osishuslov-lod consonsus toosition of strength to foreign adversaries ns well as their own political constituency.
Thus far, howevor, thore has been no consistont pattern to those signals, which could portond achange in policy direction but which also could meanomentary hiatus in Soviet efforts toontinued cooperation with the West. The shrill message directed at the US appears to bo primarily designed not toefinite end to detente, but rather to make the US, ond not tho USSR, chiefly responsible for detonte's deflated expectations. The timing of the signals has been haphazard, and the abrasive gostures have been accompanied by certain more conciliatory ones, suggesting that Soviets themselves hnvo not made up their minds. elegation to tho USSR from the National War Collogo was treatedriendly monnor last month and polonies wore avoided. Various working group sessions on such subjects as the test ban issuo and the Indian Ocean have found tho Soviets serious in their approach. Tho semi-annual "Silver Fox" mission, which is intondod to demonstrate the right of froo navigation in tho Black Soa, did not draw unusual Soviot reaction last month. And Soviet Foroign Trade Minister Patolichev, who publicly put on an abrasive
show in Washington last month,
his talks with Vico President Iw.-uiwitSocretory of Stato Vonco wore "most satisfactory."
There have been similar balancing acts in other aroas. Two woeks after the stinging attack on tho Spanish communist party, Moscow backed off slightly ond called for "solidarity" in the face of imperialist offorts to split the communist movement. Then, on Julyhe Soviet communisttalks with tho Belgium party-supported "independent" strategies for every comnunist purty. ough lino went out to the Japanoso communist pnrty,onciliatory ono went to tho Jnpnnose government. Soviot charges against the Chinose hnvo been accompanied by Brezhnev's call for "normal
good neighbor rolntions" with tho PRC. Tho carefully orchestrated sconario for Shcharansky has been followed by tho emigration of two prominent Jewish activists, although only aftor they made depositions on their tios with Shcharansky. Soviot proaganda attacks against dissidonts have been matched by recont invitations to flvo West European countries to obsorve militaryin the Ukraine later this month, which isby the Helsinki accords for large-scale manouvers.
Tho Price of Brozhnev's Advances
On balance, however, the Soviets are clearly moving away from the etiquette of detente, and further moves will be dependent in largo part on futuro US behavior. At the same time, it is reasonably clear that Moscow has not yot reached any firm decision about the prospects for tho policy of detente and that the internal dynamics of the Soviet political situation will affect the evolution of that docision. Similarly, the readjustment In theof Eurocommunistsikoly example of somein the USSR, and Soviet behavior has suggostod tho continued oxistence of divided counsels. Both previous and recent reporting hasat the Soviets woro divided between those who want open polemics and direct confrontation with the Eurocommunists ond those who believe that such hOTsh toctics would only bo counterproductive to Soviet interests in retaining influence over tho Western communists.
In sum, the evidence cited can be interpreted to suggest that Brezhnev is on the defensivo in trying to salvage some freedom of maneuver in relations with tho West and may be facing serious opposition from thewithin the Politburo. But there have been no irreversible Soviet moves in this regard, anduccessor to Brezhnev could emergeosition todetente, despite the blatant rhetorical steps of the past two months.
Nevertheless, Brezhnev's political advencos over tho post two months, in achieving both the presidency and the constitution, nay thus far have beon registered at the cost of yielding on certain of his policy interests
is tho US and West Europe. If thero hasrade-off along these lines, then Brezhnev's victory nay haveyrrhic one that will work againstnterests.