The projection of Soviet power

by W. Scott Thompson

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Changes in the international milieu have led to a broadening of the meaning of the term power projection. The author defines power projection at the first level as the capability to develop an infrastructure of influence--treaties of friendship and active alliance systems, including economic and military aid and sales agreements. Power projection at the second level denotes the capacity to inject appropriate instruments of influence and force into rapidly changing situations in order to protect or further develop the power's infrastructure. This paper examines: (1) The background of Soviet power projection capabilities and compares the American and Soviet capabilities in terms of force, equipment, and materiel. (2) The substantial changes in recent years in American and Soviet alliance systems. (3) Five trends toward violence and Soviet advantage in the Third World. (4) The intentions of the superpowers and hypotheses about future Soviet actions. The conclusion considers possible U.S. options given the present political constraints in the United States.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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