Perceptions management in Soviet foreign policy

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


International Studies

First Committee Member

Vendulka Kubalkova - Committee Chair


The continued existence of a Soviet parallel foreign policy during the period 1985 to the abortive coup of August 19, 1991 is consistent with a controversial interpretation of "new thinking" as a Marxist theory of international relations, a new state ideology, and a foreign policy guide. New thinking was an effort to renovate--not renounce--Marxism by bringing the Soviet variant back within the mainstream of international political thought. Analysis of Gorbachev's writings, speeches, and the "ideological work" he directed by the International and Ideological Departments of the CPSU demonstrate that Gorbachev is a theorist attuned to the Marxist mainstream tradition from which Soviet Marxism strayed after the October Revolution. The blatant discrepancies between contemporary Western perceptions of Soviet behavior and the Soviet behavior itself in the post-Cold War period, therefore, result partly from a Western misunderstanding that Gorbachev's reforms were within the Marxist tradition, including a concept of struggle between socialist and capitalist systems. The conservative quarrel with Gorbachev then was not over the need for reforms, only over their content and timing. There was no irreconcilable disagreement between Gorbachev and the KGB, the CPSU or the military concerning foreign policy. Gorbachev's intent was to maintain a prominent role for Party organizations, albeit restructured in the image of new thinking, and to continue the parallel foreign policy as a key instrument in advancing Soviet goals. High on the list of those goals was to attain a moral and intellectual leadership position in world society. Regardless of Gorbachev's own fate, many of his new thinking concepts will likely survive in future soviet international relations.


History, European; History, Modern; Political Science, International Law and Relations

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