'Post-Cold War' Era 1988-1991
In order to understand the logic behind the Soviet embrace of political campaigns based on all-human values and concerns, it is necessary to understand the Soviet concept of ideology, which has been explained by Evgueni Novikov, who defected from the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee's International Department in 1988, in his unpublished manuscript The Hidden Dynamics of Perestroika. Novikov, now a professor at the U.S. Army's Russian Institute in Germany, taught for 15 years at the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee's Institute of Social Sciences, informally known as the International Lenin School, which trained thousands of Marxist revolutionaries from all over the world in the fundamentals of running a Soviet-style system. (In October 1991, the Lenin school was transformed into the Institute for Sociopolitical Research, under the same leadership as before. In early 1992, its facilities were taken over by the Gorbachev Foundation.)
According to Novikov, the Soviets view ideologies as pseudo-scientific constructs based on carefully selected portions of social theories, which the party elite uses in order to achieve its goals. Novikov states, "it should be stressed that an ideology is not a theory, but the party elite's self-interest translated into theoretical terms." Thus, Novikov notes, despite the fact that Marxist ideology prevailed in the Soviet Union, certain books by Marx were forbidden. They were part of Marxist theory, but conflicted with Marxist ideology - that portion of the theory that served Soviet interests. So, they could not be read.
"New thinking" was a mind-boggling innovation: a totally new, supra-Marxist Soviet ideology. Instead of relying solely on Marxist theory, the "new thinkers" used all of human thought as "raw material" for constructing a new Soviet ideology, including cherished Western concepts about human rights, democracy, and freedom of choice, as well as universal human concerns about the dangers of nuclear war and irreparable damage to the environment. The idea animating the "new thinkers" was to construct an ideology that would be more effective than communist ideology in enabling Soviet leaders to design manipulative propaganda campaigns that could be turned to Soviet advantage. As Yuri Krasin, then head of the CPSU Central Committee's Institute of Social Sciences, told a group of fellow Marxists in 1988:
The principles developed in the mid-1980s by the "new thinkers," which they viewed from their own "Marxist perspective," had enormous worldwide appeal. They included such concepts as the Common European Home, the primacy of universal human values, a non-offensive military doctrine, reasonable sufficiency in military armament, defense conversion, the demilitarization of international relations, a non-nuclear world, disarmament for development, ecological security, the democratization of international relations, the rule of law, a new international order, a new security system in Europe, a heightened role for the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, collective security, the settlement of regional conflicts, a balance of interests among states, the de-ideologization of state-to-state relations, eliminating the "enemy image" and moving to the notion of "partnership," worldwide cooperation in the fight against terrorism and drugs, integrating the Soviet economy into the world economy, humanizing international relations, non-violence, the inadmissibility of using force or the threat of force to attain political objectives, respect for the principle of freedom of choice, respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of other countries, and a comprehensive and all-embracing system of international security.
It would be hard to find a more appealing and hopeful set of principles for guiding international relations. But it is important to remember that these principles were embraced by the Soviets not for their intrinsic value as Westerners understand them, but in order to achieve traditional Soviet goals by conciliatory rather than confrontational, and political rather than military means. The Soviets have spoken quite openly about this. As senior Gorbachev adviser and prominent "new thinker" Vadim Zagladin stated in his 1989 book To Restructure and Humanize International Relations: "our course towards peace, towards peaceful coexistence and competition between the two systems does not at all imply abandonment of our revolutionary goals." (p. 87)
Sergei Rogov summed up Soviet thinking on this issue in Is a New Model of Soviet-American Relations Possible?. He stated:
In other words, in developing "new thinking," the Soviets hoped to devise a methodology that would enable them to "win the competition between socialism and capitalism" peacefully, in several generations, without recourse to arms or the arms race. This was to be achieved in large part by using the enormously appealing slogans of "new thinking" as the rallying cries for political propaganda campaigns designed to secure Soviet interests.
How did the Soviets believe that this might work in practice? A cryptic statement by then-Soviet Foreign Minister Boris Pankin in the September 27, 1991 issue of Izvestia provided a clue.
In the Izvestia article, Pankin stated that one of the three main priorities guiding Soviet foreign policy at that time was the "primacy of international law over national law." This intriguing principle could have been combined with the "new thinking" maxim of the "democratization of international relations" to devise a peaceful method for seeking to augment Soviet power that would have been fully consistent with "rule-of-law" principles. For example, the Soviets could have urged that majority-rule procedures (the "democratization" of international relations) be adopted at the United Nations for passing measures binding on U.N. member states (a "rule-of-law" world). This could have resulted in a system that could theoretically have been used by the Soviets to interfere in the internal affairs of Western countries (the primacy of international law over national law), if they had been able to devise anti-Western measures that would have been appealing to a majority of U.N. members.
In his speech at Fulton, Missouri on May 6, 1992, former Soviet president Gorbachev made a number of radical proposals-that are consistent with this interpretation of the thrust of "new thinking." He proposed the establishment of a global government, a broad expansion of the U.N. Security Council, greater powers for the United Nations, and the further "democratization of international relations," without explaining what he meant by this phrase. Gorbachev stated:
Gorbachev's suggestions went beyond a radical restructuring of the Security Council and a significant expansion of U.N. military powers. He also hinted at potentially more far-reaching changes, stating that "On today's agenda is not just a union of democratic states, but also a democratically organized world community-" At another point, he urged, "A major international effort will be needed to render irreversible the shift in favor of a democratic world - and democratic for the whole of humanity, not just for half of it."
Gorbachev's proposal that the number of permanent members of the U.N. Security Council be tripled, from five to fifteen, by adding Germany, Japan, India, Italy, Indonesia, Canada, Poland, Brazil, Mexico, and Egypt, was a bold political gesture, although its ultimate results, if it were implemented, are unclear. If such an expansion were to take place, it would certainly make the security council a much more cumbersome and complicated body, and could easily blunt its ability to act quickly, decisively, and effectively. In addition, if these ten additional countries were added to the Security Council, large and populous countries such as Pakistan, Argentina, Ukraine, Nigeria, and Iran, as well as a host of others, might be tempted to put forward their own bids for membership as well. Thus, while is difficult to foresee how such a proposal could lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness on the part of the United Nations, it is easy to see how it could lead to a great deal of squabbling and infighting, with the lion's share of the stirred-up resentment directed at the current permanent members of the Security Council. If Gorbachev had made such a proposal while he was still serving as Soviet leader, then the USSR could then have posed as the champion of the rights of "countries without a voice" and worked to direct the subsequent anger at the United States, Great Britain, France, and China, much in line with the traditional objectives of Soviet foreign policy.
During the "post-Cold War" era, Soviet officials repeatedly endorsed the call for a strengthened United Nations, in line with Gorbachev's 1992 suggestions. In an interesting development of this theme, an article "Foreigners in Parliament" in issue number 31 of New Times in 1989 made the novel suggestion that "an international treaty be concluded according to which the signatories would exchange representatives to sit in parliaments." It expressed the hope that "with time, international chambers (ICs) will be formed within these parliaments with special rights and duties." It then opined:
The article then soothingly claimed:
Thus, in the name of "the priority of universal human values," the Soviets floated the idea of granting vast, new powers to a super-U.N., which would have placed its representatives in national legislatures, and would have had the right to veto the efforts of nations to protect themselves from its intrusions, allegedly because "non-interference in internal affairs ... is becoming an increasingly dangerous dogma nowadays." This extremely creative scheme for implementing the principle of "the primacy of international law over national law" was shocking in its cavalier disregard for principles, such as non-interference in internal affairs and national sovereignty, that have formed the cornerstone of international affairs for centuries.
Several months later, in a lengthy article entitled "Ecology and Diplomacy" in the November 22, 1989 issue of Literaturnaya Gazeta, then-Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze explicitly suggested using the U.N. as a vehicle for anti-Western actions, invoking the notion of "ecological security" as a stalking horse for such initiatives. In the article, Shevardnadze suggested drawing up a binding international "code of civilized and ecologically correct behavior of states" that would include the following draconian provisions: "no activity on the part of any state - either economic or military - should harm the environment both within and beyond its national jurisdiction" and "any forms of economic and other activity whose ecological consequences are unpredictable are impermissible." He called for decisions on this matter to be made by the U.N. Security Council, because it is "the only organ in the U.N. system authorized to make decisions that are mandatory for all states." If adopted, such a scheme would have afforded tremendous opportunities for anti-Western mischief making.
Shevardnadze went on to state:
The contrast between "old thinking" and "new thinking" could not be clearer. In traditional communist ideology, capitalism, in the form of transnational corporations, was identified as the enemy, and Soviet-style socialism as the solution. Under the ideology of "new thinking," pollution was identified as the enemy, Western transnational corporations as the source of the problem, and binding international initiatives at the United Nations (ideally designed with substantial Soviet input) as the solution. Thus, "new thinking" provided an extremely cooperative, non-militaristic, non-confrontational, democratic, and "rule-of-law" approach to achieving unchanged Soviet goals. The collapse of the USSR interrupted elaborate preparations by Soviet front groups and other elements of the active measures apparatus to make "ecological security" a rallying cry at the June 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil.
The way in which the "new thinkers" apparently envisioned using the United Nations reflected classic Soviet methods of political maneuver that went back to the days of the Bolshevik revolution. one of the main Bolshevik slogans of 1917 was "All Power to the Soviets" (the word "soviet" in Russian means "council"). At the time, the soviets were acting as rival authorities to the Provisional Government, then Russia's governing body. By propagating this slogan, the Bolsheviks hoped to weaken the existing government, and have formal power transferred to entities that were easier to penetrate and manipulate. A more honest slogan would have been "All Power to the Bolshevik Party," but Lenin and his cohorts preferred to create the impression that they were seeking to transfer power to popular bodies, not to themselves.
The "new thinkers" appear to have had a very similar scheme in mind in proposing vast new powers for the United Nations under the guise of "democratizing" international relations. The Soviets had devoted decades to the task of placing their bureaucrats at key positions within the U.N. power structure. They may have calculated that new powers for the United Nations would, in actuality, mean increased power for the USSR. Such a scheme would have been fully consistent with the Soviet penchant for using front groups and moribund bureaucratic structures with vast potential power, such as the U.N. military command, as the instruments through which they sought to exercise power behind the scenes, in the name of various "all-human" causes.
In short, during the era of "new thinking," propaganda campaigns designed around "all-human" values and concerns, international law, and the United Nations replaced confrontation, a military buildup, and great power politics as the favored methods for making Soviet influence manifest throughout the world. As Shevardnadze stated, the "new thinkers" based their policy on "the primacy of the force of politics over the politics of force."
As mentioned earlier, the 3 main "all-human" concerns around which the political campaigns of "new thinking" were based were the dangers of nuclear war, environmental catastrophe, and the collapse of the world economy. In August 1991, Shevardnadze added another allegedly grave danger to this list: the specter of collapse of the USSR into chaos. In an interview on Soviet television on November 19, 1991, he stated, "An unstable Soviet Union is now the greatest threat to the whole world. It is, perhaps, a greater danger than nuclear, ecological, economic, and all other threats." (Washington Post, 11/20/91) The apparent objective of this politics of hysteria was to dilute and nullify the power of Western states and institutions, such as NATO, and to instead transfer power to huge, multilateral organizations that could be much more easily influenced by Soviet-abetted propaganda campaigns, and could be thoroughly penetrated by Soviet bureaucrats ostensibly working for the common good.