From: Jerry Hough <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 10 May 2003
Subject: Re Bergson debate
I am saddened by the way the debate on Abram Bergson has been framed. First, the man disappears. He was a kind, reserved, gentle man. I remember the last paper of his that I heard in which he always referred to Gorbachev orally as "M. S. Gorbachev."
Second, history did not start with the Pipes attack in the 1970s. Policy is not based on CIA analysis. The consensus analysis, although not individual papers, follow policy. If we took seriously the intelligence estimates of Iraq weapons of mass destruction, we would have been highly reluctant to go to war. If such weasons were scattered across Iraq, it obviously was highly dangerous to destroy command-and control over them and leave them open to terrorist seizure or to guards selling to terrorists. Similarly, the exaggeration of Soviet strength, military as well as economic, began with Sputnik. When Allen Dulles told Congress that Soviet technology would soon surpass Western, he was not following CIA analysis, but telling them which way to go. He was using Sputnik to try to justify an economic policy that would prevent the Depression of the 1930s--which, of course, would have made the comparison with the USSR much more unfavorable to the West. Kennedy pushed the exaggeration because he wanted to push his major re-militarization program and also accelerate economic growth.
Bergson began his work well before this. He was interested in the intellectual problem of how one estimates GDP and growth in a non-market, secret economy. The Russian economy today has a non-market secret economy. One only wishes that we were making the same effort to understand it. Paradoxically those criticizing the old CIA views are usually in the forefront of the effort to make Russia even more misunderstood than it was the past.