Soviet Crisis Decision-Making and the Gorbachev Reforms

by Jeffrey Legro

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This paper examines the impact of military institutions and procedures on Soviet crisis decisionmaking. In light of Mikhail Gorbachev's domestic reforms, it assesses traditional Soviet political-military crisis dilemmas between prevention of and preparation for war. The declared shift in Soviet strategy and force posture from offense to defense, and the erosion of the military's implicit role in decisionmaking, should ameliorate institutional biases which threaten stability in an East-West clash.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Occasional paper (Soviet) series. The occasional paper series was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1985 to 1992. It included the occasional paper education (OPE) and occasional paper Soviet (OPS), which was issued jointly by the RAND/UCLA Center for Soviet Studies (CSS) to facilitate the exchange of ideas among those who shared the research interests of the Center and of scholars participating in its research and seminar programs.

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