Analysis on the Soviet Union

E - G

Eberstadt, Nicholas. "Where Did the CIA Go Wrong?" National Review, 10 Jun. 1991, 31-34.

This article criticizes CIA estimates of the Soviet economy as too high. Three general problems in terms of the methods used for estimates are identified: the use of official Soviet statistics, the method by which the CIA values Soviet output, and a lack of tests and external challenges to these estimates.

Ecklund, George, "Guns or Butter Problems of the Cold War." Studies in Intelligence 9, no. 4 (Fall 1965): 1-11.

"Rudimentary methodology for studying the effects of military programs on the Soviet economy."

Ellsworth, Robert F., and Kenneth L. Adelman. "Foolish Intelligence." Foreign Policy 36 (Fall 1979): 147-159.

Petersen: "[C]ritical of CIA's record in providing valid estimates over the years."

Firth, Noel E., and James H. Noren. Soviet Defense Spending: A History of CIA Estimates, 1950-1990. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 1998.

Periscope 22.2 sees this as an important work that makes "a major contribution to the ongoing debate over the future of CIA.... This book should bring some balance to the debate." For Bruce C. Clarke, CIRA Newsletter 23.3, Firth and Noren's is "a balanced, comprehensive, and readable account." The work covers "the development and implementation of a complex intelligence analytic process with multiple implications." The authors' discussion of the shortcomings of the process "is done in detail and with the source references required for independent evaluation by other scholars."

Flynn, Richard. "Estimating Soviet Gold Production." Studies in Intelligence 19, no. 3 (Fall 1975): 11-22.

"Intelligence methods used to estimate gold production in the USSR are highlighted by a new methodology developed to estimate the capacity of the Muruntau, the largest gold plant in the world." (footnote omitted)

Ford, Harold P. "Calling the Sino-Soviet Split." Studies in Intelligence (Winter 1998-1999): 57- 71.

With regard to the developing Sino-Soviet split, "the dominant voice of CIA analysis was out in front of the rest of the Intelligence Community (IC) in trying to alert policymaking consumers that the United States might someday face a significantly changed strategic situation." Nevertheless, "for the better part of a decade, those analysts who were convinced that bitter differences underlay the Sino-Soviet relationship faced tough hurdles....

"One of the earliest CIA publications mentioning differences between Moscow and Beijing was published jointly by the Foreign Documents Division (FDD) and the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), on 30 April 1952, titled 'Propaganda Evidence Concerning Sino-Soviet Relations.' That study briefly identified two chief areas of differing Soviet and Chinese propaganda: Soviet aid to China's war effort in Korea, and China's status in the Communist orbit [footnote omitted]....

"The word 'conflict' in Sino-Soviet relations first appeared in November 1954 in an FBIS study, 'Points of Sino-Soviet Conflict on Far Eastern Policy.' This piece identified two areas in which Soviet and Chinese propaganda 'persuasively suggest longstanding and still not entirely resolved divergences on policy in the Far East.'"

Freedman, Lawrence. U.S. Intelligence and the Soviet Strategic Threat. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1977. 2d ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986. London: Macmillan. 1986.

Pforzheimer notes with regard to the first edition of this work that the author discusses "the 'Soviet threat' from the early 'missile gap' through the Ford administration. Freedman ... relied almost completely on open sources.... Some of his ... sources are ... rather weak reeds on which to lean. Nevertheless, this book is ... worth a look." According to Constantinides, the author "is weakest when he strays into areas of human collection and of personalities." Chapter 4 "discusses instances of Soviet strategic deception designed to affect U.S. perceptions and estimates of Soviet strength." Petersen calls the second edition a "well-documented overview."

Freeman, J. F. "A New Source for Figures on Soviet Military Output." Studies in Intelligence 6, no. 2 (Spring 1962): 19-26.

Garthoff, Douglas F. "Analyzing Soviet Politics and Foreign Policy." In Watching the Bear: Essays on CIA's Analysis of the Soviet Union, eds. Gerald K. Haines and Robert E. Leggett. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, Center for the Study of Intelligence, 2003.

From "Introduction": The author provides "an account of the Agency's analysis of Soviet politics and foreign policy" and describes "the organizational changes that affected the production of political analysis within CIA during the Cold War.... Garthoff assigns the Agency and the Intelligence Community high grades for political analysis.... At the same time, he is critical of the Agency's cautious or conservative approach in evaluating statements regarding Soviet foreign policy."

As to whether the CIA predicted the Soviet demise, Garthoff "gives the Agency relatively high grades for the quality of its effort.... It may be said of CIA that it did not predict with exactitude that Gorbachev would fall or when he would fall, but it also must be acknowledged that CIA documented many indications of the troubles he encountered (and engendered) and the seriousness of their danger to his political health."

Garthoff, Raymond L. Assessing the Adversary: Estimates by the Eisenhower Administration of Soviet Intentions and Capabilities. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1991.

Surveillant 2.1: "[A]nalyzes the Eisenhower administration's assessments of Soviet intentions and capabilities which attributed unlimited, ideologically motivated, expansionist aims to the USSR and, in turn, prescribed an American policy of containment."

Garthoff, Raymond L. "Estimating Soviet Military Force Levels: Some Light from the Past." International Security 14, no. 4 (1990): 93-116. [Petersen]

Garthoff, Raymond L. "Estimating Soviet Military Intentions and Capabilities." In Watching the Bear: Essays on CIA's Analysis of the Soviet Union, eds. Gerald K. Haines and Robert E. Leggett. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, Center for the Study of Intelligence, 2003.

From "Introduction": "Garthoff traces the gradual development of CIA's role in military analysis from the 'bomber gap' and 'missile gap' controversies in the 1950s and early 1960s to ... the Agency's estimates of Moscow's growing military power in the 1980s and 1990s. He argues that CIA's analysis was not always right, nor always accepted, but that it played a predominant role in the US policymaking process because it was more correct, more often.'...

"Garthoff concludes that perhaps the greatest shortcoming of the NIEs and CIA's assessments of Soviet military power from 1988 to 1991 was a failure to recognize the radical changes in Soviet outlook, doctrine, policy, or military strategy.... Nevertheless, he concludes that analysts at CIA were well ahead of the Intelligence Community as a whole in assessing Soviet military intentions and capabilities."

Gates, Robert M. "The Prediction of Soviet Intentions." Studies in Intelligence 17, no. 1 (Spring 1973): 39-46.

The author notes that CIA's analysis of "Soviet political intentions and decisions" has been less on the mark than assessments of military and economic matters. The reasons for this are numerous, and include the changeability of the decisionmakers. There are, however, steps that can be taken "to improve our ability at least to offer the policy maker a more accurate appraisal of the options open to the Soviet leaders in a given situation, and to provide a better estimate of their more likely choices."

Gervasi, Tom. The Myth of Soviet Military Supremacy. New York: Harper & Row 1986.

Twining, I&NS 4.1, dismisses this work as "an unsophisticated attempt to apply a Marxist-Leninist interpretation to the military reality of superpower rivalry."

George, Theodore A. "The Calculation of Soviet Helicopter Performance." Studies in Intelligence 3, no. 4 (Fall 1959): 43-48.

"How a set of mathematical curves and formulas can be used to convert data derived from the still photograph of a new whirlybird to specifications for its performance in action."

Grabo, Cynthia M. "Soviet Deception in the Czechoslovak Crisis." Studies in Intelligence 14, no. 1 (Spring 1970): 19-34. Studies in Intelligence: 45th Anniversary Special Edition (Fall 2000): 71-86.

The author provides a quick overview of general types of deception activities. With regard to Czechoslovakia, Grabo concludes that "it is almost impossible to conceive that [the Soviet leaders] could have carried out an operation such as the invasion of Czechoslovakia without employing some of their traditional deception tactics." However, "[t]he scope of actual deception measures ... was probably far less than might be expected under other circumstances."

Graham, Daniel O. "The Soviet Military Budget Controversy." Air Force Magazine 59, no. 5 (1976): 33-37. [Petersen]

Greenslade, Rush V.

1. "CIA Meets the Press." Studies in Intelligence 13, no. 2 (Spring 1969): 3-10.

President Johnson wanted a late-1963 CIA assessment of the Soviet economy to be released to the public. Release of the report at the CIA's first press conference led to more speculation about the CIA's motives for releasing the story than about the state of the Soviet economy. In the longer run, the CIA estimate of a slowed growth in the Soviet economy became accepted.

2. "The Many Burdens of Defense in the Soviet Union." Studies in Intelligence 14, no. 2 (Fall 1970): 1-12

The author argues that the "proper measure of the burden of defense is its opportunity cost, that is, the value of alternative goods and services done without in order to acquire defense." (Italics in original)

3. "Rubles Versus Dollars." Studies in Intelligence 6, no. 1 (Winter 1962): 1-11.

This article explains why "dollar and ruble comparisons [of the U.S. and Soviet GNPs] are not so good, and the geometric mean not nearly so bad, as critics have alleged."

Return to Analysis Table of Contents