The Soviet Campaign Against INF

Strategy, Tactics, Means

by Alex Alexiev


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Beginning in 1979, the Soviet Union mounted a major effort to prevent the deployment of NATO's INF (intermediate-range nuclear forces), which was scheduled to begin in 1983. The campaign failed to achieve its main objective, but it remains an instructive example of the Soviet political modus operandi and perhaps the best case study of a concerted Soviet effort to manipulate domestic trends in Western countries. This Note attempts to provide some insight into Soviet tactics and operational style. It places the INF issue within the framework of Soviet security concepts, reviews Soviet efforts to influence decisionmaking elites in West Germany against INF and to exacerbate U.S.-European friction within NATO, and analyzes the methods used by the Soviets in their campaign to co-opt the West German peace movement. The author finds that the campaign waged by the Soviets demonstrated a remarkable organizational and political capability which enabled them and their allies to exploit large numbers of noncommunists in West Germany, and contribute to the growing polarization of West German politics.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.