A Country Like Any Other: The State Department and the Soviet Union

Report Europe

A Country Like Any Other: The State Department and the Soviet Union

December 7, 1988 21 min read Download Report
Daryl Plunk
Former Senior Visiting Fellow
Daryl is a former Senior Visiting Fellow

(Archived document, may contain errors)

682 December 7,1988 ACOUNTRY L;IKE ANY OTHER THE STATE DWm AND THE SOWETUNION 1 INTRODUCTION President-elect George Bush will need so phisticated and tough-minded guidance to meet the challenge of Mikhail Gorbachevs dynamic new Soviet foreign policy. It is unlikely that the U.S. State Department, as currently structured, can give Bush such guidance. He and Secretary of State-designate J a mes Baker therefore should reshape the State Departments internal structure and modify its interdepartmental role in developing United States policy toward the Soviet Union Though the State Department oversees diplomatic relations with over 150 countries, the day-to-day management of U.S.-Soviet relations is by far its most important task. This isand must be the case because only the USSR poses a direct military threat to the U.S. Despite recent doctrinal statements, moreover, Moscow still iiews world poli t ics as a contest of indkfiGte length between the progressive forces of socialism and historically doomed capitalism. Eventually, perhaps, Gorbachevs reforms could affect- the conduct of Soviet foreign affairs. So far, however, in sharp contrast to rapid d evelopments on the domestic scene, Soviet foreign policy making has been characterized by continuity and certain tactical modifications in rhetoric rather than significant change.

The State Departments conduct of U.S.-Soviet affairs often fails to reflect the threat that Moscow poses to the U.S. and the special character of Soviet diplomacy. This is because of 1 This is the.sixth in a series by The Heritage Foundation State Departm e nt Assessment Project. It was preceded September 22,1988 Buckgrounder No. 653, Rethinking U.S. Foreign Aid (June 1,1988 Buckgrounder No 631, Rethinking the State Departments Role in Intelligence (February 11,1988 Buckpunder No. 615 Breaking the Logiam in S tate Department Reports from Overseas (November 9,1987 and Buckgrounder No 605, Understanding the State Department (September 25,1987 Upcoming studies will address such issues as the,State Departments approach to Soviet espionage and an analysis of the ro l e of Foreign Service Officers. i by Buckgrounder No. 673, The State Departments Structure Puts It At Odds With the White House i n a. U I y the norms, objectives, and practices that the State Department, as an institution, brings to dealing with the Sovie t Union. These include 1) Rejection of the possibility that ideology could be a principal motive in international behavior 2) Perception of conflicts as stemming fkom misunderstandings rather than from I deliberate policy choices and, th.erefore, as always amenable to resolution through compromise achieved by patient negotiations 3) Support for the status quo in international politics 4) Seeking better relations, rather than advancement of U.S. interests,.as the ultimate goal of diplomacy 5) The tendency to ward a clientitis that transforms State Department careerists into advocates of whatever nation they happen to.be working with at the moment.

The most serious structural problem impeding States handling of U.S.-Soviet diplomacy results from States treatmen t of the USSR as if it were just any other country a Canada, India, or France. This is reflected in the structure of States Soviet affairs bureaucracy. Geography, rather than the nature of U.S.-Soviet conflict, determines the place of the Soviet Union in t he State Departments machinery. The Office of Soviet Union Affairs (the Soviet desk) is in the Bureau of European Affairs along with such close American NATO allies as Britain, West Germany, and Canada. lie result: the Assistant Secretary of State for Eur opean and Canadian Affairs is responsible for relations both with Americas closest allies and with its principal adversary.

For George Bush and James Baker to craft a more effective U.S. policy toward the USSR, they must define States role in U.S.-Soviet r elations carefully and improve staffing procedures for States Soviet affairs functions. This,requires Strengthening White House control of U.S.-Soviet relatidns by creating the position of Deputy National Security Advisor for Soviet Global Affairs. This o f ficial would coordinate Soviet-related activities of all federal departments and agencies and act as the principal advisor to the President on U.S.-Soviet relations Upgrading States Office of Soviet Affairs (the Soviet desk) by removing it from the Bureau of European Affairs and making it the Bureau of Soviet Global Affairs, headed by an Assistant secretary of State Enforcing the Presidents mandate in foreign affairs by placing carefully selected political appointees in such positions of day-to-day managem e nt of U.S.-Soviet affairs as Assistant Secretary of State for Soviet Global Affairs, the Deputy Secretary, and the section heads 1 e. 4 Intensifying training for Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) who are selected for I specialization in Soviet affairs I 2 L E SSONS OF HISTORY: TWO APPROACHES TO DEALING WITH THE SOVIET UNION The State Department has not always regarded the Soviet Union as just any other country. Viewing the USSR as a special case was stressed by William Bullitt, an early and enthusiastic advoca t e of U.S. recognition of the Soviet Union and President Franklin Roosevelts appointee as the first U.S. Ambassador to the USSR (from 1933 to 1936 and by George KeMan, a diplomat and scholar who was a member of the first U.S. diplomatic team in Moscow and later served as Ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1952.

After serving three years in Moscow, Bullitt concluded that the Soviet Union should pay an admission price for joining the family of nations: unless Moscow abided scrupulously and fully by the agreeme nts it made, wrote Bullitt, there could be no genuinely friendly relations with Moscow. Until that happened, Bullitt urged caution and firrmikss in dealing with Moscow. He strongly disapproved of loans and long-term trade credits sought from the U.S. by t h e Soviet Union in the early and mid-1930s and suggested- that the U.S. should advise American industrialists against putting in expensive machinery to produce for the Soviet market Hardheaded Diplomacy. George Keq.nans prescription for dealing with Soviet s articulated in 1946, was based on the assumption that the U.S. should not search for a community of aims with Moscow because such community simply did not exist Man was against, as he put it, acting chummy with the Soviets or making fatuous gestures of g o od will. Instead, he recommended tough bargaining and hardheaded diplomacy. For example, he wrote in his 1967 Memoirs: Make no requestsof the Russians unless we are prepared to make them feel our displeasure in a practical way in case the request is not g r antedT2 In dealing with the Soviets, Kennan explained that it was imperative not to be afraid to use heavy diplomatic weapons even in minor matters and, when necessary, not to shy away from unpleasantness and public airing of differences. The U.S. should n ot beg for negotiations, argued KeMan, and the initiative for high-level exchanges of views must come from the Soviets in at least 50 percent of the cases. Finally, Kennan suggested that to the extent possible all U.S. activities relating to Russia, both government and private, be coordinated In contrast to the paradigm for dealing with Moscow suggested by Bullitt and Kennan was that promulgated by Joseph Davies, who replaced Bullitt as Ambassador and serveduntil 19

38. For him and his followers, good rela tions with the Soviet Union were the paramount objective to which differences and problems should be subordinated. To avoid irritating 1 Loy W. Henderson, A Question of Ttust. The Ongins of US.-Soviet Diplomatic Relations (Stanford California: Hoover Inst itution Press, 1986 pp. 409-410 2 George Kennan, Memoirs 1925-1950 (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1%7 p. 291 3 Kennan, op. cit pp. 291-2

92. Since his retirement in 1963 and becoming a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, Kennans views have changed dramatically. Apparently forgetting what he had learned and taught about Moscow, he became one of the most vocal advocates of disarmament accommodation, and cooperation with the Soviet Union 3 Soviet authorities, therefore, Davies avoid e d raising unpleasant subjects with them personally, letting his staff deal with such matters as arrests and disappearances of American citizens in the Soviet Union, divided families, delays in issuing visas, and arrests of the U.S. Embassys Soviet employe e s. George Kennan served under Davies as Third Secretary in the Moscow Embassy and recalled that the Ambassadors goal was to make sure that American-Soviet relations should have the outward appearance of being cordial no matter what gnashing of teeth might go on under the surface. This required, wrote Kennan, turning the other cheek in the face of various Soviet harassment Tolerant Understanding. Davies believed that a common ground between the United States and the USSR [which] will obtain for a long time, lies in the fact that both are sincere advocates of peace.5 In his final dispatch from Moscow, written in June 1938 Davies argued that methods employed in all [U.S.-Soviet] matters should be based not on upon a critical and intolerant.attitude,that induce s irritations, but upon an attitude of tolerant understanding of the difficulties the [Soviet] officials are laboring under It has been my experience here that where matters are projected in a spirit of tolerance, understanding and friendliness, there has been a prompt and generous response on the part of the [Soviet] government to accommodate itself to a reasonable agreement!

Bullitt (along with Kennan) and Davies thus offer competing broad strategies for dealing with the Soviet Union. The State Department as an institution, for years seemed to accept the one advocated by Davies as more consistent with the way it handled US. relations with other countries Of course, there have been and are now many individual Foreign Service Officers whose views of conduct i ng U.S.-Soviet relations hue closer to those of Bullitt and Kennan than to those of Davies. Depending on their position in the bureaucracy and willingness to buck the dominant orthodoq, these individuals can and do make a difference. But they cannot refor m States institutional behavior STATES INSTITUTIONAL ETHOS: THE CYRUS VANCE PARADIGM President Jimmy Carter once noted that Cyrus Vance, who was his Secretary of State from 1977 to 1980, mirrored the character of the organization he led.7 Carter was absolu t ely right. Vances thoughts and perceptions and the policies he advocated offer insight into States dominant institutional mentality. Typifying this is Vances assessment of 1 4 Kennan, op. cit p. 83 5 Henderson, op. cit p. 422 6 aid 7 Jimmy Carter, Keeping Faith (New York Bahtam Books, 1982 I 4 U.S.-Soviet relations in 1978 the year when thousands of Cuban troops were dispatched to Ethiopia and the Soviet Union continued its most severe crackdown on dissidents including the imprisonment of refusenik Anatoly Shcharansky as a U.S. spy while the Soviet military buildup continued apace, despite U.S. unilateral restraint. Wrote Vance later: the Soviets felt our human rights efforts were aimed at overthrowing their system; they saw our behavior as unpredictable; a n d they were growing uncertain whether we still wanted a SALT Treaty. I believed that the hostility could lead to new Soviet hard-line actions to which we would be compelled to respond, imperiling our relations at a critical period when a leadership change in Moscow seemed possible in the near future?

Pursuing Vague Objectives. The options recommended by Vance at the time, in response to Soviet actions, also exempli

persistent tendencies at State He advocated conclusion of the SALT 11 Treaty to stabilize the strategic competition; a review of U.S human rights policies vis-a-vis the Soviet Union because there was a critical point beyond which our public pressure was causing the Soviets to crack down harder on Soviet dissidents; avoiding trying to play Chin a off against the Soviets; accepting U.S. competition with the Soviets and not linking Soviet behavior in the Third World to issues of fundamental interests, such as SALT 11 As to the introduction of Cuban troops in Africa, Vances idea of retaliation was d i plomatic pressure, strengthening U.S. tie with Third World states, and increased economic and military aid to key countries. 4 Vances ideas exemplified States dominant institutional ethos: the vague objectives of stability, peace, and better relations ins t ead of a more focused pursuit of U.S. interests obfuscation of the profound moral differences between the totalitarian Soviet regime and U.S. democracy in value-free diplomacy; the perception of the U.S. and the Soviet Union in effect, as equal superpower s , equally burdened with the responsibility for world peace and equally to blame when the process broke down STATES RULING PASSIONS: SUPPORT FOR PROCESS AND DESIRE FOR AGREEMENTS Seeing its prime mission as improving relations with the Soviet Union, the St a te Department is strongly influenced by two institutionalized sentiments: support for process and desire for agreements. Everything that furthers process States code word for negotiations and improvement in relations and helps agreements is emphasized. Th a t which impedes process is pronounced nonessential or ignored outright. The overriding 8 Cyrus Vance, Hard Choices (New York Simon and Schuster, 1983) p. 101 9 aid, pp. 101-102 5 objective is to make more new agreements, regardless of whether the old ones are observed or of how beneficial they have proved to the U.S.

This objective has been apparent as the guiding principle shaping States positions on arms control, the end of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and U.S.-Soviet scientific exchanges State and Arms Control Nowhere is States infatuation with process more obvious than in its arms control strategy. The Department seems determined to maintain momentum regardless of whether the outcome is in the U.S.s best interests. As a former Reagan Administratio n high official who asks not to be identified, put it, State hates deadlocks: they are always looking for ways to do something with the Soviets.

Substituting diplomacy for policy, States Bureau of European.Mairs tends to look at arms control solely in term s of its effect on U.S.-Soviet relations. Often these officials lack detailed knowledge of the substantive military aspects of an arms control issue. As a result according to a former high official in arms control who dealt extensively with States represe n tatives, they tend not to realize what is at stake An Unacceptable Proposal Accepted. Fearful of a breakdown in negotiations or.even a lack of progress, State constantly has advocated what amounts to preemptive concessions to Moscow by modifying U.S. prop o sals to make them more palatable to the Soviets. When opportunities for such modifications are exhausted, the State Departmentoften seeks to change the U.S. position itself. Thus it objected vehemently to Ronald Reagans proposal for a zero option in the I N F negotiations, which would eliminate all medium-range ballistic missiles. Many at State saw this proposal as unacceptable to the Soviet Union and thus unacceptable for the U.S. to put forward The Soviets eventually accepted thezero option A similar State Department effort to soften the U.S. bargaining position to make it more acceptable to the Soviets took place in early 1982, as the U.S. was developing a strategy for Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START Because most Soviet strategic missiles carry nucle a r warheads with a greater destructive capacity than U.S. warheads, an equitable arms control agreement must establish limits on this throw-weight. Claiming that.a-U.S demand for throw-weight limits would be unacceptable to Moscow and, as such, would under m ine the arms control process, the State representatives fought a long and bitter battle with other arms control specialists to remove throw-weight from the negotiations agenda. Eventually, State was overruled, and in the current draft of the START agreeme n t Moscow agrees not just to limit but actually to reduce the throw-weight of its strategic missiles Avoiding Sanctions. Support of process is most conspicuous in the State Departments efforts to resolve the issue of Soviet arms control violations without a ny sanctions against Moscow. In fall.1987, for example, States Policy Planning staff prepared a memorandum for the Secretary of State on how to deal with such violations. While acknowledging that they represented matters of most serious concern, the memor a ndum cautioned against t 6the U.S. insisting on strict compliance with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty for fear that this would have a corrosive effect on U.S.-Soviet relations. And since, continued the memorandum, it would be unrealistic to expect the Soviets to dismantle the [illegal Krasnoyarsk] radar unilaterally, the U.S. should settle for somewhat less. A recommendation circulating within the State Department: let the Soviets finish building the illegal facility but get them to promise not to o perate it The Afghan Settlement The institutional ethos of State puts the highest premium on settling armed conflicts around the world. More often than not, however, State appears to be more concerned with the settlement itself than with a political outco m e favorable to U.S. interests. The problem arises when State tries to settle armed conflicts in a way that would 1eave.a totalitarian pro-Soviet regime in power. In Afghanistan, Nicaragua, and Angola, the State Department has diligently sought solutions t o the insurgencies in those countries that would end fighting at the price of preserving unpopular communist regimes.

States Afghan solution illustrates the pattern best. In 1985 three U.S. Soviet specialists meeting secretly with Soviet negotiators, found what they considered a means of breaking the deadlock over the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. They drafted an agreement that would end foreign interference in Afghan affairs by the removal of the Soviet troops and the termination of Wester n aid to the Afghan freedom fighters.

According to the draft, the Western aid was to end on the day the Soviet withdrawal was to begin Denying Support to Freedom Fighters. There was nothing in this agreement that would have prevented the Soviets from conti nuing to provide military supplies to the Soviet puppet regime in Kabul during and after the Soviet withdrawal. Thus Moscow would be allowed to sustain the communist regime in power, while Western support to the rnujahideen freedom fighters would be denie d.

This secret understanding with Moscow surfaced two yearslater, in late l987, when the Afghan accords were about to be guaranteed by the United States and the Soviet Union.

The 1985 understanding was a total surprise to Ronald Reagan, and following an outcry in Congress, the President ordered the State Department to inform the Soviets that U.S military assistance to the freedom fighters would continue as long as Moscow conti n ue&to supply the communist regime in Kabul States Scientific Exchange Policy The relentless pursuit of agreements with the Soviet Union is often rationalized in ways that overlook completely the reality of dealing with a totalitarian communist state. Typi c al of such rationalization are States arguments in favor of expanding scientific exchanges with 10 The Heritage Foundation, National Securify Record 105, September 1987, p. 6 7 the Soviet Union. This is perhaps the most chaotic area of U.S.-Soviet relatio n s, in which U.S. long-term priorities and interests have never been established and articulated, let alone systematically pursued Backward Science. It is not clear, for example, how the U.S. benefits from scientific cooperation with a country that, by the admission of its own scientists, is often decades behind the U.S. in almost every field. One of the most respected Soviet scholars cyberneticist and physician Nikolai Amosov, noted recently that only in space exploration and physics could Soviet science b e considered in the forefront, while in all other areas it was backward.12 Since nearly all areas of Soviet science and technology, in one way or another, are used by the military, the Soviets have always regarded scientific exchanges with the. U.S. as mea n s to gather information for their military effort In the course of these scientific exchanges Moscow has obtained information in such areas as composite materials for missiles and space systems, aerial photography, lasers, and acoustical data for developi ng low-frequency sonars for submarines.l3 Yet, the State Department apparently views the perils of Soviet military-industrial espionage as minor compared with the benefits of strengthening the exchange process.

Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle recalls that while no one has overall responsibility for assuring that the risks inherent in exchange programs with the Soviet Union are kept within reasonable bounds the attitude among my diplomatic colleagues is that any exchange is in our intere s ts because it is the State Departments mission to promote exchanges.14 Successful Soviet Bluff. In exchange agreements with the Soviets, States diplomacy is based on the same premise as it is in other areas of U.S.-Soviet relations: a mediocre or even a p o or agreement is better than none Thus, shortly before this years Moscow spring summit, acting Assistant Secretary of State Richard J. Smith concluded an exchange agreement with Moscow, which would allow Soviet access to private U.S.:companies engaged in s c ientific research and development, including major defense contractors. In the opinion of one participant in the negotiations, the agreement.fwould give the Sovi ts automatic U.S. government blessing to approach our industries, our companies.When some mem b ers of the U.S. team objected to that part of the agreement, the Soviets threatened to climb on the plane and go home. The Soviet bluff worked. The chief.U..Si 11 See, for example, Richard N. Perle, Like Putting the KGB into the Pentagon, me New Yank Erne s , June 30,1987 12 Realities, ideals and models, Litemhmaya Gazeta, October 5,1988, p. 14 l3 Soviet Acquisitiun of Militady Signijkant Westem Technology: An Umte Washhgton; DG: 1985 pp. 21 24. For a detailed account of the Soviet uses of scientific exchang e s with the U.S. see Mikhail Tsypkin U.S.-Soviet Academic Exchanges No Longer Should Favor MOSCOW, Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No 478, January 9,1986 14 Perle, up. cit 15 Gene Grabowski, Scientific agreement terms favor Soviets, worried officials char g e, The Washingtun limes, May 19,1988 8 negotiator agreed to the proposed draft. Explained Smith: I had to make a choice. Either lose the negotiations which would have opened everything, much of which is great value to us, or initial [the agreement And I n o ted that there were concerns.16 HUMORING THE SOVIETS States unwillingness to rock the boat is reflected in the consistent opposition to efforts to force Moscow to reduce the number of its diplomats in the U.S. Long ago it was established beyond reasonable doubt that a large share of these Soviet so-called diplomats were full-time spies. In summer 1985, for example, following the National Security Councils recommendations, President Reagan approved the expulsion of 80 Soviet diplomats from the Soviet missio n to the United Natiohs in New York. Just .before the expulsion was announced, Secretary of State Shultz urged the President to postpone the decision, arguing that it would damage U.S.-Soviet re1ati0ns.l State equates U.S.-Soviet negotiations with a dialog ue, and dialogue means peace Thus instead of a means to advance.U.S. interests; negotiations become an end in themselves. As such, they are, in States view, to be protected by all means available.

For States functionaries even nabbing Soviet spies is not a sufficiently urgent reason to jeopardize negotiations. For example, when in 1986 the FBI was preparing to arrest Gennady Zakharov, a Soviet employeehpy at the United Nations, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Rozanne Ridgway bitterly oppo s ed. the FBI action on the grounds that Zakharovs arrest might disrupt the preparation for the Reykjavik summit An especially bizarre effort in this respect occurred on September 15,1987, during the visit of Soviet Foreign Minister Edward Shevardnadze. On t hat day, the State Department declared itself a foreign mission in order to take advantage of a law preventing I demonstrators from getting too close to a foreign embassy. State did nof:want Americans to upset the Soviet foreign minister and perhaps distr a ct him from the most important thing of all negotiations. Shortly thereafter, an appalled Senate passed a bill prohibiting any similar acts in the future THE MOSCOW EMBASSY DISASTER Few, if any, instances of the State Departments treatment of the Soviet U n ion as any other country produced such a spectacular disaster as the case of the new U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Originally scheduled to be completed in 1983 at a cost of $75 million, the new Embassy was about to be completed in 1987 (at a cost of $157 millio n whenit was found to be riddled with Soviet listening devices. The State Department had allowed the Soviets to pre-fabricate concrete components of the structure away from the construction site 16 hid 17 The New Yo& Times, April 20,1987, p. 6 I .I 9 where they were able to implant listening devices in them. This happened because during the negotiations the State Department apparently accepted Soviet ass rances that Soviet construction practices did not allow for on-site pouring of concrete l James R. Schle s inger, former Secretary of Defense and Director of Central Intelligence who was asked by Secretary of State Shultz to investigate the affair, charged State with naivete and complacency, which provided the Soviets with an opportunity even a temptation, tha t no one engaged in that line of business was likely to be able to resist.19 Senator Lawton Chiles, the Florida Democrat, called the concessions made to the Soviets on the Moscow Embassy disgraceful.m Equally disgraceful, in his view, was the State Departm e nts unwillingness to confront the problem. Said Chiles, In 1982 we knew we had security problems but construction was not stopped for another three years.21 Reagan has since directed that Embassy building be razed completely and a new structure built in i ts place a.

IMPROVING STATES PERFORMANCE The Bush Administration can move where its predecessor has failed. To improve the Department of States carrying out U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union as formulated by the President, the Bush Administration should Recognize States Limit at ions 1 The White House should recognize that the State Department, which is responsible for executing U.S. foreign policy, is ill-equipped institutionally to develop a long-term strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union on the b a sis of fundamental U.S. national security interests. Because State confuses diplomacy and foreign policy, because it concentrates on current minor achievements at the expense of major future victories, and because its achievement and reward structures are based on the maintenance of warm relations and the conclusion of agreements, the State Department should not be asked to formulate U.S policy toward the Soviet Union. Bush should reaffirm the role of the White House and the National Security Council in st r ategic analysis and planning of the entire range of U.S.-Soviet global competition, thus avoiding the experience of the last few years of the Reagan Administration when a decision-making vacuum was filled with traditional State Department agenda and prior ities To strengthen White House direction of U.S. Soviet policy, the President should create the position of Deputy National Security Advisor to the President for Soviet Global Affairs.

As the principal advisor to the President on U.S.-Soviet relations, th is official would coordinate Soviet-related activities of various government bureaucracies to assure the faithful execution of presidential policies 18 The New York limes, June 30,1987, p. 1 19 The New York limes, June 9,1988. p. 11 20 .The New York limes , June 30,1987, p. 15 21 hid 10 Upgrade the Organizational Status of Soviet Affairs The unique position of the Soviet Union as the main U.S. adversary in the world must be reflected in the organizational structure for monitoring and analyzing Soviet global operations and conducting U.S.-Soviet relations. These crucial matters should not be confined to a small part of the State Department bureau that deals with all European nations and Canada A bureau dedicated exclusively to Soviet domestic and global affai r s should be reestablished; it existed by and large from 1924 to 1937 as the Division of Eastern European Affairs, legendary for the quality of its analysis and caliber of its staff. The Division was abolished as a result of what Kennan called the strongly pro-Soviet influence in the higher reaches of the The new Bureau should be headed by an Assistant Secretary of State, who is a political appointee Supervise U.S.-Soviet Scientific Exchange To achieve more equitable U.S.-Soviet exchanges and prevent Moscow from using such exchanges for military-industrial espionage, a bipartisan Supervisory Committee for U.S.-Soviet Exchanges should be created by the U.S. Congress In addition to overseeing the State Departments exchange policy to assure that taxpayer dollar s are spent to promote U.S. national interests, the Committee would advise private professional and other groups on the best way to conduct exchanges with the Soviet Union. The Committee would report periodically to Congress on how various government excha n ge programs were functioning Improve Training for Soviet Affairs State Department staff with a background in Soviet studies in theory are given preference for assignment to Moscow. In practice, these assignments are very much a product of bureaucratic rou l ette, determined largely by who is available when the need arises and .who can be relocated most convenientlyto Moscow. While those chosen for senior political and economic assignments to Moscow generally receive adequate language and area training junior staff do not. Thus administrative and security officers and most clerical and technical personnel are sent to the Soviet Union without sufficient training either in Russian language or in the nature of the Soviet political system. A 1986 State Department study singled out four languages in which State was failing to develop real proficiency. They are Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian.23 Training by itself, of course, cannot guarantee a better policy toward the Soviet Union.

Yet a better knowledge of t he Soviet Union is likely to produce Foreign Service Officers whose instincts are less likely to emphasize accommodation of Moscow and who are less naive about the security risks involved in the assignment to Moscow. As .such, special selection and traini n g procedures should be instituted for those chosen to specialize in Soviet affairs. Those who are admitted to the Soviet program should receive moreintensive language training plus such specialized area studies as history of Soviet diplomacy, the 1 i 22 K e nnan, op. h p. 85. 23 Duncan L. Clirke, Why State Cant Lead, Foreign Policy, Spring 1987, p. 133 a I 11 strategy and tactics of Soviet public diplomacy, propaganda and disinformation, and the conduct of Soviet global affairs CONCLUSION The next few years i n U.S.-Soviet relations are likely to be very trying, fraught with risk and opportunity. The U.S. must be prepared to match imaginative Soviet foreign policy with initiatives of its own. These should be timely and creative, and they should faithfully refl ect the will of the President as the supreme custodian of U.S. national security.

By virtue of its position as the principal tool of U.S. diplomacy and by the sheer weight of the collective expertise of its employees, the State Department will, and should, play a key role in helping George Bush to face the challenges inherent in U.S.-Soviet relations.

Guided by the White House, led by knowledgeable men and women dedicated to carrying out the Presidents mandate, aware of its limitations and used only for ap propriate tasks the State Department could successfully advance U.S. interests in the crucial world competition that will dominate its foreign policy well into the next century Leon Aron, Ph.D. Salvatori Fellow in Soviet Studies 12


Daryl Plunk

Former Senior Visiting Fellow