Piotr Gladkov (USA/Canada Inst), 1991

Piotr Gladkov, USA-Canada Institute, Head of Department of multilateral negotiations, (October 1991)
Interviewer — Julia Kalinina, on behalf of Metta Spencer

I’d say that the influence is mostly indirect. A general atmosphere of scientific discussions in Western publications is a first element of the influence on Soviet social and political thought. The ideas are being rolled through numerous magazines and books – there you draw the ideas and try to see them in the light of our reality and then use them as bricks for constructing your own concept of the problem. Then you expound them in so called “closed” issues (not for publication) – for government, Ministery of Foreign Affairs, or you can try to publish it in an open press. So the most important in that influence is the creating of an environment of scientific discussion. Through this environment Western ideas influence on our social thought and further – on the process of decision – making.

As a typical example consider the new political thinking – all its main ingredients were taken from Western ideas. If we look at Jimmy Carter’s speeches we shall see that he had stated lots of ideas that were repeated by Gorbachev

Q. – Any examples of your own experience?

My fields of specialization are Soviet-American relations, Soviet foreign policy, European problems, problems of New World Order.

1.5 years ago in Moscow News I published an article about Soviet American relations in connection with the changes in Europe. I was the first to state the idea that sooner or later SU will find a possibility to cooperate with NATO. At that time the future disintegration of SU was not evident, and still it was a question what would happen with Germany. I proposed a three-step plan: 1. GDR and W. Germany leave Warsaw Treaty and NATO; 2. Something else, I don’t remember what; 3. WT and NATO end their existance and the SU will find a form of interaction and association with former NATO countries – it will be the way to create European security. I can’t say that it’s my own idea – the matter is that I’d read and heard about it but I can’t definitely name the source. But this idea was ‘in the air’ – an new idea for that time in our country (though actually it is old because SU had an intention to join NATO from the very beginning). However it was obvious for the far-looking experts that we must search the ways to cooperate because Warsaw Treaty would collapse anyway. And anyway GDR would join W. Germany though nobody could predict that it would happen so suddenly and quickly. The idea that NATO is a foundation – stone of European security was presenting in the air, it was stated by many Americans and Europeans, especially by those who were afraid of the reunited Germany. And again I return to my statement that the particular idea is not important by itself but the whole atmosphere of the discussion, environment where these ideas present. The quantity transfers to the quality at the definite level when the concrete ideas emerge on the basis of readings, discussions, meetings, etc. though it is often impossible to say who was the first to state this or that idea and who conceived it and developed and expounded at this or that conference.

Q. – Could that article play a role on a higher level of power?

It could play a role in creating of feeding environment where the politicians could draw knowledge, like carriers of ideas that present in air. Though i expounded the same ideas in all kinds of notes and reports but I don’t know what was the reaction. Anyway at that time taboo existed, so we couldn’t openly discuss such topics.

Another story: my article in “Moscow News” (end of September,91) says that UN peace-keeping forces can be used in Karabakh for dividing Azerbaijanians and Armenians. That idea was already stated before by Shevarnadze (he mentioned it when he was in the US). But before his mission we had prepared a whole bunch of notes on the eventual passibility to use UN peace-keeping forces in our internal conflicts. For sure he read the notes and he reminded the idea and when he got an oportunity he set it forth.

I know exactly that my article was cited because a person who had presented at the sitting of the State Council on Defense and Security told me that the Chairman Krjuchkov had criticized pretty sharply this article for I was trying to attract external forces to decide our internal conflicts. Again, where did we take the idea? I can’t name exactly the date or the person who stated the idea firstly (maybe he also wasn’t really the first). In Western press this idea was mentioned and authors (especially those who were connected with UN) were discussing it. So this idea was also presenting in the air and it was picked up and that’s all. I think that sooner or later we’ll come to it.

Q. – What is the mechanism of forming the Soviet foreign policy?

Rather complicated question. As everywhere this mechanism consists of interconnected divisions and the filling of one division is pouring into another one.

Q. – I mean, how is the change of the point of view on something is being prepared? For example, the reunification of Germany – how did Soviet authorities come to acceptance of inevitability of the event?

Formerly it was easier to say how it was, because there was International Department of Central Committee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of institutes that were working for a limited circle of decision-makers. For example a new idea on disarmament emerged. A report on the issue associated with somebody’s visit is being composed and then Arbatov sends it directly to the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee or to Brezhnev’s assistant. There they read it and send for examination to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or maybe to another institute, invite authors, discuss it in details and then – look – Brezhnev is stating a new initiative!

Now things didn’t change radically, but the process was diversified, the mechanism became more complicated and ramified. The Supreme Council appeared that will ratify everything so it’s necessary to consider the legislative power. Also mass media was added to the number of influential factors. Today it is forming itself the feeding environment for a wide range of public. I mean the newspaper like MN, Independent newspaper, Commersant – those who can support or kill the idea. What did disappear? The main core of the system – the Party, the International Department of CPSU, where actually everything was being prepared, summed up and then transferred to the General Secretary. It was right there where all the cooking was carried out. Today this factor disappeared. The main change now is decentralization of the decision-making process – number of players increased and the central coordinating body disappeared. I’d recommend to read my chapter in the book “Mutual Security”, 1990 (“Domestic preconditions to the transition to mutual security”) Richard Smoke &.Andrei Kortunov, eds. In this chapter I had discussed in details the relations between internal and foreign policies in the SU, changes in the Soviet political system and main participants of the decision-making process in SU. Here they are: Party, Supreme Council, state bureaucracy, military-industrial complex, mass media

Q. – Dont’t you know how Gorbachev’s speeches had been prepared?

In different ways. Sometimes I met my own fragments in several of his interviews for Times. Lots of people were attracted to composing of these speeches and also those who work in our institute. For example, Arbatov receives a task to write a note on particular topic. He calls for employees who investigate the issue and instructs them to write a note. I remember that I was writing Gorbachev’s opinion of Reagan. It was in 1987, I composed that note, took it to Central Committee and went away on a mission to the USA. Being there I was looking through “Times” and saw Gorbachev’s interview and his opinion of Reagan – my text practically without any changes.

Surely, Gorbachev has his own staff – formally it was located in the Central Committee, now it moved to the President’s Council. Chernyayev is a person who coordinates all these foreign policy things. Ministery of Foreign Affairs, members of the Presidents Council are usually invited (well-educated persons like Grachev, Malashenko), several academical institutes – they propose ideas, write notes on the issue, all the material is being summed up and the President’s staff (Cherniajev and his people) Compose concrete speech. So the key role is in Cherniajev’s and his assistants’ hands. However a great variety of scientists contribute to it. Sometimes the same topic is being instructed to diverse persons and institutes and then the most appropriate proposals will be chosen for further elaboration.

Q. – Can you recomment somebody who will be useful for me?

Igor Malashenko, formerly he was working in US a Can Institute and now he is an assistant of Grachev (President’s spokesman). He also worked in the Central Committee and then in Security Council. Kortunov participated in this kind of job, Plekhanov, Kremenjuk, Rogov Sergej Michailovich – military issues.

Q. – Participating in seminars, meetings etc with Western activists? Did you draw something?

I can’t say that I got any particular idea there. I did never pay much attention to that – where did I get that or this idea. The ideas are maturing imperceptibly. You remind them only when you have a particular task to elaborate the theme and when they arise in your mind, you don’t know where did you get them.

But reading of Western publications and communication with Western peace activists and scientsist played the decisive role. In our country it was impossible to draw something in the discussions because everybody was dancing to th same tune. It was like scorched earth here and communication with Western people was like a swallow of fresh air.

Q. – Do you remember somebody personally?

Robert Legvold from Columbia University, Seweyrn Bialer from Columbia, Joe Nye – their workon Soviet foreign policy gave a very important insight and it was useful to compare their views with our vision and sometimes correct ourselves. Always useful – Sam Nunn, the Chairman of Senate Commission on disarmament.

The Russian Quest for Peace and Democracy, by Metta Spencer, published by Lexington Books