Intelligence Failures Of The Soviet Union Essay

Intelligence Failures Of The Soviet Union Essay

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Intelligence failures are not always in the gathering and communication of accurate information, but in the interpretation of that information by policy makers. The fall of the Soviet Union caught the United States by surprise. The popular narrative in the mainstream media was that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) failed in its duty to predict the coming collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The CIA did an admirable job of presenting representations of then complex reality of the Soviet situation, but a persistent view of the Soviets as a powerful threat to our nation collided with these assessments. There may have been a vested interest for the US Government to maintain the national rhetoric of a strong Soviet Union, but this rhetoric began to supplant actual evidence provided by the Intelligence Community (IC). The record shows the IC was predicting exactly what happened to the Soviet Union, yet the pro-establishment bias remains to this day.
In 1991 the United States was shocked to learn of the coup that dissolved the Soviet Union. In the view of many experts, scholars, and politicians the Soviet Union was a world power on the rise. It was securing political client states, its military power appeared to be growing and had surpassed some US military capabilities. What lie underneath, however, was a broken system trying desperately to match the production capabilities of the United States. The Reagan administration recognized this fault in the Soviet system and exploited it by forcing them to double down on this unstable practice by accelerating the arms race between the nations (Watkins). The Soviets soon realized it was economically impossible to remain in an arms race with the American economic powe...

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Interestingly, this may not have helped because even now, with so much of the IC’s information regarding this collapse in public view, proving that it was in the right, the popular view is still one of IC failure. Perhaps this is by design. It seemed that the Reagan Administration was doing exactly what it should do given the IC reports of economic stress within the Soviet Union. It stressed them to the breaking point using our economic and manufacturing prowess. The “relatively peaceful transition from former communist monolith into separate nations” was orchestrated by leaders who clearly understood the Soviet situation (Office of the Historian). Why they so stridently claim to have felt blindsided is a mystery, especially given all the evidence to the contrary but, as with all international politics, the public only knows a sliver of the whole story.

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