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The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the the Third World - Newly Revealed Secrets from the Mitrokhin Archive Paperback – Bargain Price, October 10, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
This second volume of the post-war history of the KGB-based on the "Mitrokhin Archive" of secret documents purloined by the late co-author, a KGB dissident-surveys the Soviet spy agency's skullduggery in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Historian Andrew portrays Russian policy toward the Third World as largely the creation of the KGB, which hoped that the spread of Soviet influence and revolutionary upheavals would make these regions the decisive Cold War battleground. The Cuban Revolution inspired these ambitions, and by 1980, after the American defeat in Vietnam and with leftist regimes installed in Nicaragua and Grenada, Cuban troops fighting in Africa and Russian forces occupying Afghanistan, both American and Soviet officials saw communism on the march. Still, in Andrew's account, Soviet initiatives-with a few exceptions, like the Afghanistan intervention-seem cautious, reactive and uncomfortably dependent on fickle client regimes; wary of confronting the United States, Russia often exerted a restraining influence on local allies. Andrew's engaging, occasionally gossipy narrative provides new evidence of Soviet sponsorship of Latin American insurgencies and Palestinian terrorists, along with details of KGB spycraft and dirty tricks. The world-wide communist conspiracy he depicts was far from a juggernaut, but he sheds new light on the hidden history of the Cold War. Photos.
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I was a bit disappointed though after reading at the start how this new and great archive was now available. Yet little of it is presented here. Overall there seemed little radically new in the book although there are some new and interesting points.
For example in South Africa, I never realized how much the USSR and South Africa must have traded during the apartheid era in diamonds.
The writers argument which I think is correct is that the KGB was one of the major means used by the Soviets to spread communism throughout the world. Often they were more inventive and clever then their enemies. Unfortunately for the USSR, either the form of communism that took shape in these third world countries produced a rival for example China or they became a major drain on the Soviet economy. Often they were played by the locals just like the US.
At the end of the Cold War, in the third world as in many other fields the Soviet's economy could not afford the price.
This book underscores another Western shortfall as well - that the success of Communism in the world from 1917 on was directly related to the "Democracies'" unwillingness to put its rhetoric into practice. This extended with a vengeance into the Third World in this book's timeframe. In Cuba, as a prime example, the US refused to intervene against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista's misanthropic reign - with which the US possessed leverage - and instead vainly attempted to thwart the Castro regime, with which it possessed none. This blinkered US policy, based only on the short term interests of American investors in Cuba, laid the groundwork for Castro's defection and the KGB's penetration into the Western Hemisphere.
Similarly, the unquestioning US subsidy of Israel's Mideast grand strategy likewise gave the KGB entry into the Middle East. American unwillingness to come to grips with its own racial problems in the 50s and 60s, and similar ambivalence regarding anti-colonialism in Africa, ensured that black Africa would seek constructive engagement with the Kremlin while Washington pursued it with Pretoria.
The KGB's successes here were all in proportion to Western - specifically American - failure of vision. These successes would have been far greater than even Mitrokhin suggests, were it not for the KGB's own hamstrung bureaucratic mentality.