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Review: The USSR. Evil, Strong, and Dangerous?

Reviewed Works: The Threat: Inside the Soviet Military Machine by Andrew Cockburn; Inside the Soviet Army by Viktor Suvorov
Review by: Ingmar Oldberg
Journal of Peace Research
Vol. 22, No. 3 (Sep., 1985), pp. 273-277
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/423626
Page Count: 5
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The USSR. Evil, Strong, and Dangerous?
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Abstract

The essay contrasts two books whose authors are clear exponents of opposite views of the Soviet military sector. The Soviet emigré Suvorov warns of the Soviet threat, proceeding from the conception of the USSR as totalitarian, unique, and evil. This makes him see a threat not only in Soviet strengths but also in Soviet weaknesses and problems. His book is often contradictory, descriptive rather than analytical. A major weakness is that the author does not reveal his sources. The main value of the book is that it is an example of the Soviet way of thinking turned against the USSR. The American Cockburn builds extensively on Soviet as well as Western sources. Him aim is to show the irrationality of the arms race. But his preoccupation with the American debate tends sometimes to make him overemphasize the similarities between the superpowers and to disregard the role of Europe. He gives a good analysis of the problems of the Soviet military machine, implying that the USSR is less menacing to the West than Western militarists believe. However, the assumption is that the Soviet leaders know the problems and act rationally. This is not certain, since — a situation Cockburn is aware of — the leadership is involved in fractional struggles and the system hinders the flow of information and criticism from below.

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