Superclients and Superpowers

Cuba:Soviet Union/Iran:United States

by David Ronfeldt

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Compares development of relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union with relations between Iran and the United States. Many similarities exist between these nationalistic superclients with strong leaders and their superpower allies motivated by geopolitical-security interests. Part of the superpower's institutional presence consists of military facilities that directly augment its capabilities for force projection and represent the major payoff for other programs assisting the client. Both Castro and the Shah show acute consciousness that national security, as well as economic development, require an exceptional commitment from their favored superpower. Each believes that his country's security is vitally important to the patron superpower and even affects world history. The world is now evolving beyond Cold War into hot detente, with conflict potential high in Third World areas. While superpowers see opportunities to promote superclients as regional proxies, these clients are becoming regional powers having independent objectives.

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