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The influence of ideology on the formation of Soviet foreign policy - Essay Example

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The notion of a political system led in its international behaviour by a particular set of operational and ideological rules rather than temporary concepts of state ‘concerns’ is usually hard for Westerners to comprehend…
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The influence of ideology on the formation of Soviet foreign policy
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Download file to see previous pages The notion of a political system led in its international behaviour by a particular set of operational and ideological rules rather than temporary concepts of state ‘concerns’ is usually hard for Westerners to comprehend. Many scholars would agree that the complicated procedures, strategies, and goals making up the official Marxism-Leninism principle have had some influence on the formation of Soviet foreign policy, even though there are critical debates over the extent of the relevance of ideological influence. For instance, the policy aim underlying George F. Kennan’s well-known article in 1947 defining the justification for what developed into the ‘containment policy’ (Evans 1993, 44) was clearly to force the Soviet Union to discard ideological frame of thinking and to develop into a more cooperative and pragmatic one. Kennan tried to accomplish this by challenging Soviet rulers with geostrategic facts which rendered the policies and analysis originated from the ideology appears inexpedient and bleak (Quimet 2003, 81). A main idea underlying the containment strategy was that a ‘non-ideological’, specifically ‘normal’, Soviet Union would be much more unproblematic to contend with in the post-war period, when continuous cooperation between East and West would make the conditions of international security and reconstruction that much simpler to accomplish (Yanowitch 1991, 65). Kennan in the end came to challenge the relevance of the ideological influence (ibid, p. 65)...
ev regime, Hugh Seton-Watson, satisfactorily described the continuous Western discussions of the influences of Soviet foreign policy as an outcome of what he refers to as ‘either-or fallacies’ (Miller 1991, 2): The most widespread is the controversy between those who see ‘ideology’ as the main force behind Soviet policy, and those who give this place to ‘security’. It is our case that the two are inseparable, and there is no need to repeat the argument. Arising from this misleading ‘either-or-ism’ is the dispute, perhaps even more widespread, as to whether Soviet policy is ‘expansionist’ or ‘defensive’. It is both. Obsession with protection of frontiers and of strategic position leads to expansion, and each successful expansion creates new positions to defend (ibid, p. 2). The argument of this essay resembles Seton-Watson’s assumption. Ideology has consistently been a major influence in the formation of Soviet foreign policy, but definitely not the only one. Also, its influence has usually been indirect rather than direct. Specifically, rather directly imposing policies, it has functioned to form the goals and context of Soviet policymakers, as well as their views of such seemingly ‘normal’ priorities as ‘defence’, ‘security’ and the requirements for ‘peace’ (Miller 1991, 2); the influence of ideology being referred to, as in Seton-Watson’s statement cited above, represent quite evidently the ‘old political thinking’ (OLT) (ibid, p. 3) that is currently challenged by Gorbachev. The Ideological Influence The definition of ‘ideology’ is itself the centre of some disagreement, as well as the characteristic of its contribution in state decision-making. Ideology, as defined by one scholar, is a ‘preconceived set or ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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