In a dramatic thrust southward during the mid-1950s, the USSR became a major arms supplier to a number of Afro-Asian regimes and subsequently acquired a significant presence in several areas of the Third World. Some Western observers reacted with apocalyptic visions of a Russian take-over in this important sector of the globe.
Professor Ra'anan has analyzed the relationship between Soviet donors of military aid and their Afro-Asian recipients and has found it wanting from Moscow's point of view. The Kremlin has discovered that the application of leverage to recalcitrant regimes in the Third World is a matter of great complexity.
The author has prepared two detailed case studies, one analyzing the genesis of an arms deal, and the other examining an ongoing military relationship. In each instance, he has focused on the problems confronting Soviet foreign policy makers and on the connection between these issues and the factional struggles within the Kremlin, as well as the conflicts between the various communist parties and states.
Professor Ra'anan has studies both new and previously overlooked material that throws light upon the motivations and the operational processes of Soviet decision makers; resorting to the techniques of the detective, in addition to the traditional methods of scholarship, he has pieced together significant clues and reconstructed the history of a dramatic period. Applying rigorous analysis, he has been able to suggest a new chronology and a new interpretation of the event that marked the beginning of the Soviet offensive southward—the famous 1955 Arms Deal with Egypt.
The same material also indicates that, at least over Afro-Asian issues, Peking was permitted to intervene in the intramural conflict between various Soviet factions. Moreover, the author's chapters dealing with the ongoing military relationship between the USSR and Indonesia suggest that the first overtones of the Sino-Soviet conflict appeared in the Third World at a much earlier date than has usually been assumed.
Through his detailed analysis of Soviet interests and practices, the author has attempted to illuminate present Soviet policies toward the Third World, a subject that is much bedeviled by myths. The present work is intended to be a contribution both to current understanding of Soviet behavior and to the methodological approach known as “Sovietology.” The author hopes it will be of service to seasoned practitioners as well as sophisticated students of contemporary history, of decision making, and of international diplomacy.