Documentation: The New Cold War
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Documentation1 Bill Moyers The New Cold War I I IMOYERS: Open conflict between the two superpowers in this era of nuclear destruction may be unthinkable , but it is possible. There is in the air a sense of crisis. It’s been there before, but the stakes have never been higher. Experts on the history of U.S.-Soviet relations may disagree on many points, but on one there is almost unanimous accord: Neither great power has seemed capable of defining the other’s interests without succumbing to miscalculationsand misunderstandings. So we’ll consider in this exchange some basic questions about the Soviet Union, some things we ought to know about the Soviet military, the people, and their leaders. Let’s begin with the Soviet military. The Soviet Union today; the image of a military giant springs to mind: soldiers, nuclear missiles, tanks. Over the last decade, the Soviets have engaged in a steady military build-up that has brought the USSR to a position of parity, some say superiority , with the United States. There can be no doubt that the military commands much of the Soviet Union’s resources and respect. Their army of 4,158,000is second only to China’s. Military officials are represented directly in important Party and governmental policy-making bodies. And one out of every seven colleges in the Soviet Union is a military academy. A starting point for understanding the Russian preoccupation with military strength is its geography. Unlike the United States, whose borders are secure, and whose coastlines ensure free access to the seas and insulation from direct attack, the Soviet Union is a virtually landlocked nation. Its borders are unfriendly, if not hostile and, the Soviets maintain, must be protected. Though rich in natural resources, the Russians ’ access to external supplies is limited, a source of insecurity in this era of global shortages. Historically, the Soviets contend that their military strength is defensive. They point to a long succession of invasions from abroad to justify their claim: the Tartars, Napoleon, the British during the Crimean War, foreign interventionists during the Bolshevik civil war, and the Nazis-all have swept across the Soviet Union’s territory. The loss of twenty million lives in World War I1 is nothing less than a national obsession, never forgotten by the old, and thoroughly indoctrinated in the young. Some contend that without its strong military, the Soviet Union would not be a world power. Others contend that while the Soviet military is powerful, its strength has been exaggerated, and that the current crises of military threat, like the bomber and missile gaps of the fifties, will prove illusory. But there are experts who insist that Soviet military power is real, and essential to its international stature. This is an edited version of two segments of WNET’s Bill Moyers’ Journal,entitled “The New Cold War“ and “Alternatives to Disaster.” The PBS air dates were April 3, 1981 and April 10, 1981, respectively. Copyright @ 1981 by the Educational Broadcasting Corporation. 787 lnternational Security I 182 Without its military force, the Soviets would have little with which to impress the nations of the third world, no means to command the obedience of its Warsaw Pact allies, no way even to control the ethnic peoples within its own borders. William Hyland is former Deputy Director of the National Security Council, and is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies at Georgetown University. Mr. Hyland, what are the most outstanding advances that have been made recently in Soviet military power? WILLIAM G. HYLAND: Well, looking back over the last decade, we can see that in every major category the SovietUnion has improved its position relative to the United States and relative to the preceding period. In long-range strategicforces, both landbased and sea-based missiles, and in their army. They have now created a completely new armed force against China; they now have in the Middle East area, area of opposite Afghanistan, a completely new army of several divisions; and they have the same modernized forces facing NATO. And, a new development in the last fifteen years, for the first time the Soviet Union, or Russia, has a blue...


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