Civil-military relations in the Soviet Union: poised for conflict.
Ziebarth, Kurt W.
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The purpose of this research is to examine civil-military relations in the Soviet Union up until the events that led to the August 1991 coup d'etat. Using a historical backdrop and existing case studies, it was illustrated that the military and political leadership's had both conflict and consensus in their relationship. In an attempt to revive the stagnating Soviet economy, Gorbachev launched a radical reform of the military under the guise of glasnost, perestroika, and "new thinking". These changes had a significant impact on the civil-military relationship. Considerable access to the defense decision-making process was provided for a number of civilian institutions reducing the military's autonomy in military affairs. Glasnost provided the impetus for scrutiny and criticism of previous military policies demoralizing military leadership. Splits in the officer corps resulted from the enhanced political participation supported by Gorbachev. Lower and middle ranking officer in favor of radical reforms became disillusioned with the conservatism of the High Command. The degree of conflict rose between the military and Gorbachev as concessions on a host of arms control agreements, the collapse of Communist power in Eastern Europe, and the deteriorating situation between the central government and the republics left the military in a state of flux. Gorbachev's persistence toward further reform lead to the demise of the Communist Party and the ideology to which the military had been bound to serve. With no economic return in sight and an impending Union Treaty that would divulge a great deal of military decision-making to the republics, the disgruntled High Command pledged its support to the coup.
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