Novoe myshlenie and the Soviet military: the impact of reasonable sufficiency on the Ministry of Defense

by Theodore W. Karasik, Thomas M. Nichols

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As part of his "new thinking" (novoe myshlenie), Mikhail Gorbachev has introduced a number of new concepts whose meanings are still under debate both inside and outside the Soviet Union. One of these concepts, "reasonable sufficiency" (razumnaia dostatochnost'), provides material for a wide-ranging civil-military and intra-military conflict on Soviet national security policy. This paper discusses the concept of "reasonable sufficiency" in its domestic context as one of the tools used by the Soviet leadership to undermine and divide the Soviet military so it cannot function as an interest group against changes in doctrine and defense spending. The authors conclude that there is evidence that the Soviet leadership has had some success. As a result, the monopoly of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff on defense policy development appears to be broken. Whether the civilians will maintain the momentum and expertise to redefine who will decide the nature of the external threat to the Soviet Union remains to be seen.

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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