Challenges to Soviet Control in Eastern Europe

An Overview

by James Brown, A. Ross Johnson

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This report summarizes and develops the findings of a project that examined the security issues posed for the United States by the likely evolution of the Soviet Bloc during the 1980s and beyond. Primary emphasis was placed on the political, economic, and social challenges to Soviet interests in Eastern Europe, as the framework for appraising the extent to which East European military forces can augment Soviet military capabilities in the late 1980s and the degree to which the Soviet army can operate in Eastern Europe unconstrained by local developments. Among the authors' conclusions are the following: (1) Poland has been pacified but not "normalized"; latent and active opposition continues. The process of pacification has made the army the real locus of power. (2) Poland and Romania are in economic crisis, and economic problems are severe throughout the region. Nevertheless, the East European economies have developed to the point where they have no chance of improved performance if they are cut off from the international economy. (3) The decline of consumerism will contribute to social ferment and working-class frustration. (4) The USSR and local leaderships in Eastern Europe will attempt to muddle through by pursuing conservative and repressive, rather than adaptive, status quo policies in the face of greater social ferment.

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