To Russia with… Respect

February 20, 2014

With worldwide sports audiences focused on television and Internet stories from the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia, we are all learning more about this fascinating country.  America has had a long and complex history of relations with Russia, from both the Soviet Union era and now as the Russian Federation. From allies to adversaries—and sometimes both at the same time— the U.S. and Russia have covered the gamut of different roles over the centuries.

In a month replete with themes of love for Valentine’s Day and stories about Russian history, the U.S. Government Bookstore adds to the dialogue with dozens of publications about Russia and the Soviet Union that show, if not always love, then the perpetual mutual respect between our two nations.

Russia-Soviet-Books-available from the GPO-US Government Bookstore

World War II

Book Cover Image for Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East (Paperback)Russia’s role as both an adversary and an ally during the Second World War lays the foundation for its complicated but critical relationship with the rest of the world today. But its historic triumph over its former ally, Nazi Germany, is a feat still studied and admired today. In Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East (Paperback), the planning and execution of the German offensive against Russia in 1941-1942 are reviewed.

Book Cover Image for Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East (Paper)Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East (in Paperback and ePub eBook) describes the German defeat by the Russians in World War II and the events that resulted in the Soviet Union becoming a dominant military power in Europe.

The Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact and the Cold War

In response to West Germany’s inclusion in NATO and reflecting Soviet leadership’s desire to maintain control over military forces in Central and Eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact was signed in May 1955 in Warsaw, Poland, as a mutual defense treaty between eight Cold War communist states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw Pact members included the U.S.S.R. plus Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovak Republic, German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

The Warsaw Pact Wartime Statutes: Instruments of Soviet Control (CIA Declassified Book and DVD) ISBN: 9780160920615Soviet military planning for conflict in Europe after World War II from the outset harnessed East European military capabilities to Soviet military purposes. This “operational subordination” of the member states’ military is thoroughly analyzed in The Warsaw Pact Wartime Statutes: Instruments of Soviet Control (Book and DVD) whose book and accompanying DVD include a wealth of newly declassified Central Intelligence Agency documents covering the Warsaw Pact period.

ISBN 9780160920608 The Warsaw Pact, Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance: Soviet-East European Military Relations in Historical Perspective; Sources and Reassessments (CIA Declassified Book and DVD)Another book and DVD set from the same series, The Warsaw Pact, Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance: Soviet-East European Military Relations in Historical Perspective; Sources and Reassessments (Book and DVD), is a collection of hundreds of recently declassified documents designed to take stock of where we are twenty years after the collapse of East European Communism. It includes sensitive Soviet and Warsaw Pact military journals from 1961 to 1984, recently uncovered in newly opened archives across former Warsaw Pact nations, providing a view into Warsaw Pact military strategy.

At the conclusion of World War 2, the Soviet Union was a major player in the world and again an adversary. The period roughly from 1947 to 1991 was known as the Cold War, in which the powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies in Warsaw Pact) were lined up against the Western Bloc (the U.S. and NATO allies). Watching the Bear: Essays on CIA's Analysis of the Soviet Union- ISBN 9780160679544It was referred to as a “cold” war because there were no major world wars or direct conflicts between the two sides, although there were significant regional wars in Korea and Vietnam. Watching the Bear: Essays on CIA’s Analysis of the Soviet Union focuses on the organizational evolution of the CIA’s analysis of the Soviet economic, political, military, and scientific and technological developments during the Cold War. Interestingly, it also assesses the extent to which Western analyses of the Soviet Union may have influenced the USSR’s policy making process.

In addition to watching the West, Soviet leadership had a constant struggle to keep its own member states in line, particularly as some began to chafe under the communist system.

For example, many remember the Czechoslovak crisis from January 1968, when Alexander Dubcek was elevated to the post of First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Under Dubcek, the Czech communist leadership had embarked on a radical program of dramatic liberalization of the Czechoslovak political, economic, and social order that was not approved by Moscow. Strategic Warning & the Role of Intelligence: The CIA and Strategic Warning; TheIn Strategic Warning & the Role of Intelligence: The CIA and Strategic Warning; The 1968 Soviet-Led Invasion of Czechoslovakia (Book and DVD), the Central Intelligence Agency’s Information Management Services reviewed, redacted, and released hundreds of documents related to the 1968 Czechoslovak-Soviet crisis, creating this fascinating book. The accompanying DVD has over 500 documents and 2,000 pages of recently declassified material about the crisis.

Détente Era

During the period of 1967 to 1979, there was an easing of Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Referred to as détente, the era was a time of increased trade and cooperation with the Soviet Union and the signing of the SALT treaties, but relations cooled again with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan until the fall of the Soviet Union and the founding of the Russian Federation.

Book Cover Image for Soviet-American Relations: The Detente Years, 1969-1972The best overview of this important period can be found in Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969-1972. With a foreword by Henry A. Kissinger, this unprecedented joint documentary publication presents the formerly top-secret record of how the United States and Soviet Union moved from Cold War to détente during 1969 to 1972. Published side-by side are both the U.S. and Soviet accounts of meetings between Henry Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin, the so-called Kissinger-Dobrynin confidential back channel, related documents, and the full Soviet and U.S. record of the first Moscow Summit between President Richard Nixon and Soviet Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev. The Soviet documents are being released in the volume for the first time anywhere.

The Foreign Relations of the United States series fondly known as FRUS has a number of terrific titles about the U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. Foreign Relations of the United States series at http://bookstore.gpo.govOne volume in particular, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume XXXIV, National Security Policy, documents U.S. national security policy in the context of the Vietnam War and the changing Cold War strategic balance between the United States and the Soviet Union. Another volume in the series, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, V. XV, Soviet Union, June 1972-August 1974, includes numerous direct personal communications between President Nixon and Soviet Leader Brezhnev covering a host of issues, including clarifying the practical application of the SALT I and AMB agreements, arms control, the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war, commercial relations and most-favored-nation status, the emigration of Soviet Jews, and the Jackson-Vanik amendment to Title IV of the 1974 Trade Act which denied most favored nation status to certain countries with non-market economies that restricted free emigration, such as the Soviet Union.

ISBN 9780160895593 Rockets and People: NASA History Series Volume IV: The Moon Race (from a Soviet rocket designer's perspective) One of the crowning achievements of Russia and the Soviet Union has been its space program. From the launching of Sputnik that triggered the space race to participation in the International Space Station, Russians are justifiably proud of their “stellar” accomplishments. This pride is borne out in the fascinating book Rockets and People: Volume IV: The Moon Race. In this book translated from its original Russian version to English, the famous Russian spacecraft designer Boris Chertok— who worked under the legendary Sergey Korolev— continues his fascinating memoirs about the history of the Soviet space program, this time covering 1968 to 1974, the peak years of the Soviet human lunar program.

The Russian Federation

Today, Russia or the Russian Federation continues to be a major power, politically, militarily and economically.  But since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has continued to have issues with insurgencies and disagreements among its population. Book Cover Image for Breaking the Mold: Tanks in the CitiesBreaking the Mold: Tanks in the Cities (in Paperback and as an eBook) provides an up-to-date analysis of the utility of tanks and heavy armored forces in urban combat from across the world, and includes an analysis of the Russian use of tanks in quelling the insurgency in the Chechen Republic (Chechnya) in 1995.

No longer a communist nation, Russia today still has a number of social welfare programs that differ from the rest of Europe. The Social Security Programs Throughout the World series highlights the principal features of social security programs in more than 170 countries. Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe 2012Now included in the most recent European edition, Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe 2012, Russian social security programs are analyzed and compared to other nations in Europe.

9781584874492_Russian-Military-Today-and-TomorrowAnd finally, The Russian Military Today and Tomorrow: Essays in Memory of Mary FitzGerald includes essays by top U.S. and Russian analysts to assess current Russian military thinking on warfare, giving insight into the Russia of today.

They say one must study history to understand where we are today and where we are heading. This listing is just a smattering of the many thoughtful publications about Russia and the Soviet Union that can add to your understanding of where this major power has been, where it is today and perhaps, where it might go in the future.

How can I get these publications about Russia and the Soviet Union?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy any of these eBooks or print publications—with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most of these titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)

About the author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Hawks vs. Doves: The Joint Chiefs and the Cuban Missile Crisis

October 18, 2012

50 years ago this week, the world stood on the brink of nuclear war as the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded. The United States finally decided to first blockade rather than immediately attack Cuba to prevent the Soviet Union from finishing installation of missiles that could reach the continental United States. This article introduces the little-known story of the battles between the “hawks” and the “doves” in the Kennedy Administration as related in a new publication, The Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Policy, Vol. 8, 1961-1964.

When President John F. Kennedy finally announced the naval blockade of Cuba and the reasons for it on national television, Americans huddled together, practiced nuclear drills, and prayed for some peaceful solution to prevent all-out nuclear war. Only decades later did the full story of brinkmanship, bravado and brilliance come out about what really happened behind the scenes during those two weeks.

Image Credit: The Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records

A little known side of the story comes from the top military commanders who were serving the Kennedy administration during the crisis, found in the surprisingly fascinating book titled The Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Policy, Vol. 8, 1961-1964, from the Office of Joint History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Kennedy Administration

This accounting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during this tumultuous period in the history of American foreign affairs goes beyond the normal third party historian’s post mortem, since the author was actually able to meet with several members of the joint chiefs in the 1970’s to add more of their personal insights, including Admiral Arleigh Burke, Admiral George Anderson, General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman during 1960-1962, and the Chairman who succeeded him, General Maxwell D. Taylor.

Image: President John F. Kennedy meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Photograph includes: (L-R) United States Marine Corps General David Shoup; United States Army General Earle Wheeler; United States Air Force General Curtis LeMay, President Kennedy; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Maxwell Taylor; United States Navy Admiral George Anderson. West Wing Lawn.  White House. Washington, D.C. Credit: Robert Knudsen. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

What results is an interesting amalgam of history and a peek into the tensions between military joint chiefs and the civilians to whom they reported. Describing the relationship of the Kennedy administration and the military establishment, author Walter S. Poole says: “During 1961-1962, relations between the JCS and their civilian superiors were often awkward and even confrontational” particularly between Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and Lemnitzer.

The old-school Joint Chiefs were concerned about the new approach to foreign policy being espoused by the Kennedy administration, and tensions grew. According to the author:

“What most concerned the JCS was an apparent erosion of US credibility that emboldened communist leaders to pursue more adventurous policies. President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara pursued what they conceived as more flexible approaches to strategy and crisis management.”

Quick Background on the Cuban Missile Crisis

In 1962, the Soviet Union was losing the arms race with the United States. In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba to double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential U.S. attack against the Soviet Union from the Jupiter missiles the U.S. had just placed in Turkey.  Ever since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion the previous year, Fidel Castro felt a second attack by the U.S. on Cuba was inevitable, so he agreed to host the missiles as protection.

Image: Initial U.S. intelligence estimates of possible U.S. targets within range of the nuclear-capable Soviet SS-4 medium-range ballisticmissiles (MRBMs) and SS-5 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) found by the U-2 spy plane surveillance photographs if they were launched from Cuba.  Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS

On October 15, 1962, the National Photographic Intelligence Center confirmed that secret reconnaissance photographs from an American U-2 spy plane flight the day before were finally able to definitively prove the suspicion that Soviet medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Atlanta, the Midwest, Washington, DC, and even Los Angeles and Seattle were indeed in place and in the process of being installed and ready in Cuba within days. In response, President Kennedy and Secretary McNamara assembled the Executive Committee of the National Security Council call “ExComm” as a task force that, together with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and experts from the State Department and other intelligence agencies, would debate the United States’ options to deter the Soviets from nuclear escalation.

To Blockade, Strike or Invade?

Earlier in September 1962, after cloud-obscured U-2 photos had hinted at Soviet build-up in Cuba, the Joint Strategic Survey Council had submitted a recommendation for blockading rather than invading Cuba, on grounds that a blockade would be less dramatic, require smaller resources, cause fewer casualties, and be more plausibly related to upholding the Monroe Doctrine. In his 1823 annual message to Congress, President James Monroe had established this doctrine followed by the U.S. ever since that warned European countries not to interfere in the Western Hemisphere, stating “that the American continents… are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.

However, as the crisis unfolded, the primary debate among the military commanders of the Joint Chiefs was over whether to carry out an all-inclusive attack against Soviet and Cuban forces on the island or a surgical strike confined to just attacking the missiles themselves, the nuclear storage sites, and Soviet MiG planes.

Both President Kennedy and McNamara thought that an all-inclusive attack would inevitably lead to invasion of Cuba, and then possible counter-attacks elsewhere by the Soviets or escalation to all-out war.

But General Taylor reported that the Joint Chiefs and the combatant commanders felt “so strongly about the dangers inherent in [only] the limited strike that they would prefer taking no military action. They feel it’s opening up the United States to attacks which they can’t prevent, if we don’t take advantage of surprise.” Taylor added that his personal inclination was “all against invasion, but nonetheless trying to eliminate as effectively as possible every weapon [present in Cuba] that can strike the United States”.

According to the reports by the author, the Joint Chiefs were opposed to only attacking the medium-range ballistic missiles themselves, saying it would incur “an unacceptable risk” and that not attacking the enemy’s planes would expose the continental United States and Puerto Rico to air attack and could cause unnecessary casualties among the garrison at Guantanamo and the forces assembling for invasion.  Instead, the JCS initially recommended “also hitting tactical missiles, aircraft, ships, tanks, and other appropriate targets, as well as imposing a ‘complete’ blockade.


Image: A meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council in the Cabinet Room during the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 29, 1962, 10:10-10:58am. Clockwise from left: Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (standing); Assistant Sec. Defense Paul Nitze; Dep. USIA Dir. Donald Wilson; Special Counsel Theodore Sorensen; Exec. Sec. NSC Bromley Smith; Special Assistant McGeorge Bundy; Sec. Treasury Douglas Dillon; Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson; Ambassador  Llewellyn Thompson; William C. Foster; CIA Dir. John McCone (hidden); Under Secretary of State George Ball (hidden); President John F. Kennedy; Sec. State Dean Rusk; Sec. Defense Robert McNamara; Dep. Sec. Defense Roswell Gilpatric; Chairman JCS Gen. Maxwell Taylor. Credit: Photo by Cecil Stoughton, JFK Library ST-A26-18-62

The Blues vs. the Reds

Even more fascinating was the story of the war gaming techniques used. To quickly develop two alternative scenarios for the President to consider, the ExComm task force split into two groups that constantly exchanged position papers and critiqued each other’s work. The “Blues,” who were to prepare the scenario for a surprise air strike, included General Maxwell Taylor, Robert Kennedy, Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon, Director McCone, Dean Acheson, and McGeorge Bundy. The “Reds,” drafting the blockade option, included Chief of U.S. Naval Operations Adm. George Anderson, Marine Corps Commandant David Shoup, Secretary Rusk, Deputy Secretary Gilpatric, and Theodore Sorensen.

Image: On October 11 last week, certain documents from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s personal papers about the Cuban Missile Crisis were declassified. In it was the above personal list of who RFK thought among the ExComm were the “Hawks” who favored an air strike (shown in the right column labeled “Strike”) vs. the “Doves” who favored a blockade of Cuba (in the left column). Note that the “Chiefs” meaning the Joint Chiefs of Staff along with General Taylor are shown on the “Hawks” Strike side of his list on the right.  Source: The National Security Archive

In less than two days, two complete scenarios were prepared and presented to President Kennedy on October 20, with competing input coming from the Pentagon and the State Department.

From this insider accounting of events, we learn that the Chairman thought that the probable sequence of events to be green-lighted would be: a political approach; a warning; air attack on the missile sites; blockade; and, if necessary, invasion, with the earliest air strike date set for October 21 (optimally the 23rd), and an invasion to begin on October 28.

However, to find out exactly what happened and how the drama played out behind the scenes, pick up a copy of this fascinating book.

HOW DO I OBTAIN The Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Policy, Vol. 8, 1961-1964”?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s US Government Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.

Find this and other Government publications about Cuba in our Cuba collection.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Four Decades since Détente and SALT

May 18, 2012

Forty years ago next week marked a historic point in Soviet-American relations. On May 22, 1972, President Richard Nixon landed in Moscow for an unprecedented week-long summit with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, Premier Alexei Kosygin and other Soviet officials that culminated in the SALT I Treaty and marked the height of the détente era.

In honor of this four decade anniversary, I thought I’d write about an insightful publication by the State Department entitled “Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969-1972 that covers this important period that marked a détente or a “thawing” of Cold War relations between the two superpowers.

Extremely interesting are the forewords by both Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. In them, they talk about their personal relationship that forged “The Channel” of communications between the two governments that finally led to the breakthrough in negotiations.

Kissinger reminisces:

On March 25, 1971, according to the transcript of a telephone conversation with Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, I remarked: “When we are both out of government service, which will be a lot later for you than for me, I hope you will let me read the reports you send in on me.” … My remark to Dobrynin was an interlude in what evolved into almost daily exchanges. What was later named “The Channel” began as a general exchange of views. Starting in 1971, the Channel became the principal venue for U.S.-Soviet relations.

Don’t change “The Channel”  

According to Kissinger in “The Détente Years”, “The Channel” became one of the pathways of change, and “produced a number of significant agreements”, including:

  • an agreed approach on Strategic Arms Limitation (May 1971);
  • the conclusion of an agreement regarding access to Berlin (September 1971);
  • the announcement of a Soviet-American summit agreement (October 1971); and
  • President Nixon’s visit to Moscow (May 1972), at which agreements, the most important of which were a treaty regulating Ballistic Missile Defense and a five-year freeze on deploying additional offensive strategic weapons, were concluded. The two sides also published an agreed statement on principles of international conduct.

Image: Nixon and Brezhnev shake after signing the SALT treaty on May 26, 1972 (Source: Corbis Images).

Pass the SALT, please

The highlight of the publication is the discussion about the lead-up and issues during the Moscow Summit and the final negotiations of the SALT I Treaty.

SALT I, the first series of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, had begun in November 1969 to explore ways to halt or reduce the arms race, particularly nuclear weapon proliferation. This week of meetings from May 22 to 26, was set up after those years of negotiations to finalize and sign a number of agreements that increased cooperation and reduced the mutual nuclear threat between the two nations.

Image: Nuclear Limits. (Source: Time Magazine, 1972)

On May 26, Nixon and Brezhnev signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I), the most significant of the multiple agreements reached during the Moscow summit. The terms of the SALT treaty limited the USSR and the United States to only 200 anti-ballistic missiles each, which had to be split between two defensive systems.

One good (hand)shake leads to another

Among all the handshakes at this Moscow summit was another for the “Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Cooperation in the Fields of Science and Technology” which laid the groundwork for the first joint Soviet-US space flight. Called the Apollo Soyuz Test Project or ASTP, the ASTP flight lasted only nine days from July 15-24, 1975, but led to another famous handshake… this time in space.

Image: Photo of the famous handshake between Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford (f.g.) and cosmonaut Aleksei A. Leonov after a successful linkup in space of the Americans’ Apollo and the Soviets’ Soyuz spacecrafts on July 17, 1975  (Source: NASA ASTP gallery).

Innovation = Bureaucratic dismay

All in all, this publication provides unique insights from the players involved about the diplomatic communications and procedural changes and innovations that were put in place on both sides to eliminate the logjam in relations between Soviets and American administrations since the end of World War II. And sometimes these changes were done “outside” the normal processes.

As Kissinger explains in the book:

Paradoxically, the Channel worked best so long as the bureaucracy did not know of its existence. While that was the case, the participants in the interdepartmental machinery had an incentive to adjust their positions toward what they thought was feasible; in general, no one wanted to assume responsibility for failure by inflexibility…

For all the bureaucratic dismay it caused, the Channel was an innovative attempt to transcend the formalities of an increasingly bureaucratized diplomacy. It helped contain crises, saw America through a period of domestic divisions and sketched prospects for a more peaceful world.

HOW DO I OBTAIN “Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969-1972”?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,373 other followers

%d bloggers like this: