Analysis on the Soviet Union

A - D

Adamsky, Dima P. "Disregarding the Bear: How US Intelligence Failed to Estimate the Soviet Intervention in the Egyptian-Israeli War of Attrition." Journal of Strategic Studies 28, no. 5 (2005): 803-831.

From abstract: This article "describes the US intelligence conception concerning the USSR; explains the crystallization of the intelligence estimate on the probability of Soviet intervention in 1970; deals with the intelligence data that were acquired but eventually ignored; and concludes with several plausible explanations for the intelligence blunder."

Anderson, Dwayne. "On the Trail of the Alexandrovsk." Studies in Intelligence 10, no. 1 (Winter 1966): 39-43.

The author relates the analytic effort to determine what the cargo of a Soviet merchant ship in October 1962 might have been. A presumptive answer of nuclear warheads was reached, although there is no assurance that such was the case.

Anderson, Dwayne. "Yesterday's Weapons Tomorrow." Studies in Intelligence 9, no. 4 (Fall 1965): 13-17.

A preoccupation with Soviet missiles "may have become so great as to skew our appreciation of over-all Soviet capabilities. Factors operating to degrade the theoretical capabilities of modern weapons have been ignored, and important capabilities of older weapons systems have been overlooked or forgotten."

Aronsen, Lawrence. "Seeing Red: US Air Force Assessments of the Soviet Union, 1945-1949." Intelligence and National Security 16, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 103-132.

Air Force intelligence (A-2) was "more than any other agency ... convinced of the Soviet willingness to wage war." However, even though "A-2 came to be possessed by a rigidly anti-communist ideology, it established a progressive-minded reputation for introducing new ideas, techniques, and technological innovations."

Aspin, Les.

1. "Debate Over U.S. Strategic Forecasts: A Mixed Record." Strategic Review 8, no. 3 (1980): 29-43, 57-59.

By "mixed record," the then-Representative and future Defense Secretary refers to what he finds to be both overestimates and underestimates on Soviet weapons developments.

2. "Misreading Intelligence." Foreign Policy 43 (Summer 1981): 166-172.

Petersen: "Suggested improvements in estimating the Soviet threat."

Aviation Week & Space Technology. Editors. "New Assessment Put on Soviet Threat." 28 Mar. 1977, 38-43, 46-48. [Petersen]

Becker, Abraham. "Intelligence Fiasco or Reasoned Accounting: CIA Estimates of Soviet GNP." Post-Soviet Affairs 10 (1994): 291-329.

Berkowitz, Bruce D. "U.S. Intelligence Estimates of the Soviet Collapse: Reality and Perception." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 21, no. 2 (Summer 2008): 237-250.

Those uninterested in the truth should avoid this article. Berkowitz's conclusion? "Only the most convoluted reasoning can turn the summaries and key judgments of the Intelligence Community's analysis of the Soviet Union in the 1980s into a case that the IC 'missed' the Soviet collapse."

Berkowitz, Bruce D., and Jeffrey T. Richelson. "The CIA Vindicated: The Soviet Collapse Was Predicted." The National Interest 41 (Fall 1995): 36-47.

"[T]hroughout the 1980s the intelligence community warned of the weakening Soviet economy, and, later, of the impending fall of Gorbachev and the breakup of the Soviet Union.... [T]he intelligence community -- and the CIA in particular -- performed well in anticipating the Soviet collapse. In some respects, its performance was exemplary.... [T]he documentary record portrays an intelligence community that fully understood that the Soviet Union was in trouble." One of the mistakes that the CIA did make was to pursue "false precision" in seeking an exact rate of growth for a non-market economy. "By attempting to estimate specific growth rates, the intelligence community diluted its main message ... which ... was right on the mark."

With regard to Gorbachev's ability to hold onto power, the "record suggests ... that the intelligence community, and particularly the CIA's Office of Soviet Analysis, were keenly aware that Gorbachev was playing with fire.... Of all intelligence agencies, the CIA had the most pessimistic view of Gorbachev's ability to fix the Soviet economy and retain power." Two years before Gorbachev's fall, the Bush administration had reacted to the reporting by establishing a "'contingency planning group' ... to analyze specific options as to how to react if the Gorbachev regime fell.... In retrospect, the CIA was most prescient in anticipating events." Specifically, it "[r]epeatedly mentioned a coup as a serious possibility." But it also noted that even "if the hardliners did manage to seize power temporarily, they would not be able to consolidate control."

Were U.S. national security policymakers listening? Scowcroft does not recall the level of warning seemingly indicated by the documentary evidence. On the other hand, Gates believes the warnings "reached their target." The authors conclude that: "In any case, it is clear that the Bush administration chose to stand by Gorbachev in spite of [italics in original] the intelligence that argued his future was limited." And there were strong reasons for doing so.

The authors see the misperception of the CIA's performance in predicting the Soviet collapse as a cautionary tale from which lessons can be learned: The danger of the conventional wisdom; the limitations of intelligence in the policy process; intelligence analysts are not psychics; and the intelligence-policymaker relationship needs to be improved.

Berman, Robert P., and John C. Baker. Soviet Strategic Forces: Requirements and Responses. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1982.

Bottome, Edgar M. The Missile Gap. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickerson University Press, 1971. [Petersen]

Brandwein, David S. "The SS-8 Controversy." Studies in Intelligence 13, no. 3 (Summer 1969): 27-35.

The author takes the reader through some of the struggle within the Intelligence Community in the early 1960s to define the size of a new Soviet missile.

Breemer, Jan S. "Soviet Naval Capabilities." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1, no. 4 (1986): 119-132.

Problems in intelligence estimates.

Bukharin, Oleg A.

1. "From the Russian Perspective: The Cold War Atomic Intelligence Game, 1945-70." Studies in Intelligence 48, no. 2 (2004).

This article examines "the Soviet nuclear denial and deception (D&D) campaign from 1945 until 1970" designed to prevent the West from learning about its nuclear program. "To thwart foreign intelligence operations, the Soviet Union built an elaborate, multi-layered system of denial and deception, the main elements of which included the restriction of access to nuclear facilities and personnel, strict information protection measures, an enhanced counterintelligence posture, and technical countermeasures....

"[L]ong-range, stand-off technical systems proved to be the best collection sources for the United States, allowing for successful tracking of many aspects of the Soviet nuclear program. Overhead imagery enabled the detection and analysis of critical elements of the Soviet nuclear infrastructure. The USAEDS system, designed to monitor radioactive effluents from nuclear explosions and nuclear material processing, yielded important data on the development of Soviet nuclear weapons science and technology. Because of denial and deception countermeasures, however, the USSR's nuclear program was an exceptionally hard target. The lack of reliable on-the-ground intelligence made it difficult for the West to understand important developments inside the Soviet nuclear complex, which resulted in significant intelligence gaps."

2. "US Atomic Energy Intelligence against the Soviet Target, 1945-1970." Intelligence and National Security 19, no. 4 (Winter 2004): 655-679.

Similar to Studies in Intelligence 48.2 (2004) article above.

Burton, Donald F. "Estimating Soviet Defense Spending." Problems of Communism 32, no. 2 (Mar.-Apr. 1983): 85-93.

Petersen: "Chief of CIA's Military Economic Analysis Center in the 1970s defends estimates."

Carlucci, Frank C. "Former Defense Secretary Comments on Significant Events in USSR." Periscope 15, no. 2 (1990): 1-4.

Petersen: "Former DDCI [1978-1981] covers intelligence matters in an address of June 4, 1990."

Carver, George A., Jr. "Intelligence and Glasnost." Foreign Affairs 69, no. 3 (Summer 1990): 147-166.

The author is a former CIA official.

Dick, James C. "The Strategic Arms Race, 1957-1961: Who Opened a Missile Gap?" Journal of Politics 34, no. 4 (1972): 1062-1110. [Petersen]

Dockham, John. "A Sharp Look at Sinosovietology." Studies in Intelligence 5, no. 3 (Summer 1961): A23-A27.

"The Sinosovietologist, afflicted with the youthful brashness of his new methology and unable to acknowledge that all the answers are not yet available, tends to find answers too readily."

Donovan, G. Murphy [LTCOL/USAF]. "Evidence, Intelligence and the Soviet Threat." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1, no. 2 (1986): 1-28.

Chief, Intelligence Research Division, Air Force Intelligence Service.

Dylan, Huw. "Britain and the Missile Gap: British Estimates on the Soviet Ballistic Missile Threat, 1957-61." Intelligence and National Security 23, no. 6 (Dec. 2008): 777-806.

"American estimates inflated a practically non-existent ICBM threat; British intelligence misunderstood the nature of the I/MRBM threat, but its assessment did not inflate or belittle the overall Soviet threat facing the UK."

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