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#4 - JRL 7172
Date: Wed, 07 May 2003
From: Yale Richmond <yalerich@erols.com>
Subject: Cultural Exchange and the Cold War

Cultural Exchange and the Cold War: Raising the Iron Curtain, by Yale Richmond, has been published by Pennsylvania State University Press.

Some fifty thousand Soviets visited the United States under various exchange programs between 1958 and 1988. They came as scholars and students, scientists and engineers, writers and journalists, government and party officials, musicians, dancers, and athletes--and among them were more than a few KGB officers. They came, they saw, they were conquered, and the Soviet Union would never again be the same. This book describes how these exchanges (which brought an even larger number of Americans to the Soviet Union) raised the Iron Curtain and fostered changes that prepared the way for Gorbachev's glasnost, perestroika, and the end of the Cold War.

This study is based on interviews with Russian and American exchange participants, research in Soviet archives, as well as the personal experiences of the author and others who were involved in or administered such exchanges. The book demonstrates that the best policy to pursue with countries we disagree with is not isolation but engagement.

Hardcover Price: $35.00.

From the Introduction:

"What caused communism to collapse and the Cold War to come to a close? Some say it was Ronald Reagan who sullied the Soviet Union with his "evil empire" speech. Others point to Pope John Paul II and his visits to Catholic Poland, which challenged Soviet rule in Eastern Europe and ultimately the entire Soviet bloc. Still others recognize the role of the U.S. military buildup, the threat of "Star Wars," and the simple solution that we spent the Soviets into submission. Also credited are international radio broadcasts—the Voice of America, BBC, and Radio Liberty—that exposed the fabrications of the Soviet media.

There are also Western Sovietologists who maintain that the Soviet Union brought about its own demise through mismanagement at home, over-extension abroad, an unwise intervention in Afghanistan, failure to cope with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and suppression of innovation in politics, economics, and the arts. As former U.S. ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock has put it, ‘The Communist dictatorship collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions and irrationality.'

Also given credit for the Soviet demise is glasnost—the end of state control over the media—and the resultant information explosion in the Soviet Union that exposed the horrors of the past and the realities of the present. Yet another notion credits the abatement of fear among the Soviet people and the emergence of a dissident movement encouraged by the Helsinki Accords on human rights that challenged the authority of the Communist Party. There is even a theory that rock and roll, a Western import, seduced Soviet youth and eroded the authority of the Party's ideologists. And finally, many Russians tell us that glasnost and perestroika, and much that followed, were purely domestic developments that resulted from a reform movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

There is a grain of truth is some of these explanations, and more than a grain in others. But in the following pages readers will find many grains of another explanation—that the end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism were consequences of Soviet contacts and exchanges with the West, and with the United States in particular, over the thirty-five years that followed the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953.

Moreover, those exchanges in culture, education, information, science and technology were conducted by the United States openly, for the most part, under agreements concluded with the Soviet government, and at a cost that was minuscule in comparison with U.S. expenditures for defense and intelligence over the same period of time. The result was an increase in Western influence among the people in Russia who count—the intelligentsia.

How all that came about is the theme of this book."

Yale Richmond, now retired, spent more than forty years in government service and foundation work, including thirty years as a Foreign Service Officer in Germany, Laos, Poland, Austria, the Soviet Union, and Washington, D.C. His previous books include From Nyet to Da: Understanding the Russians (3rd edition, 2003) and From Da to Yes: Understanding the East Europeans (1995).

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