Soviet Defense Policy Under Gorbachev: The Growing Civilian Influence
Published Date: September 1, 1990
National security decision-making in the Soviet Union has changed radically under Gorbachev. A key aspect of this change is the emergence of the institutchiki, or civilian academicians from the Soviet Academy of Sciences, as influential experts on defense issues. Previously these civilians had scant impact on the defense decision-making process, which was dominated by the General Staff and professional military cadre. Three developments point in this direction: the increased representation of the civilian experts in state and Party institutions dealing with foreign and security policy; the special role these civilians seem to be playing in developing and promoting Gorbachev's 'new thinking' in foreign and security policy; and, recent decisions that mark a sharp departure from earlier policies and reflect proposals originating with or developed by the institutchiki. This paper documents these trends, chiefly on the basis of articles that have appeared in the Soviet press. It also describes the resistance of the military to some of the new thinking and resultant proposals. The main actors in this unfolding drama include the top military leaders, principally the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff, and the most visible of the institutchiki: those employed by the Institute of the USA and Canada (IUSAC) and the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO).