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Soviet influence in the Third World : indicators of influence Smith, Kevin Michael


Discussion of the influence of the Soviet Union is often in vague terms. The term "Soviet influence" is usually used without concern for its clear definition. This paper attempts to deal with the notion of Soviet influence as it relates to the Third World, and to analyse the extent of Soviet influence in Third World nations. In doing this, three main questions are asked: What is influence? What evidence is there of Soviet influence? Can Soviet influence be measured? First, the notion of influence is defined. Second, criteria — the indicators of influence — for identifying and measuring, relatively, Soviet influence in the Third World are outlined and evaluated. The indicators form a simple methodology for examining Soviet influence. Third, the indicators are applied to two case studies — Somalia during the 1960s and 1970s, and Angola during the same time period. The indicators are: 1/ Domestic Dissonance 2/ Soviet Acquisition of Military, Naval and Air Facilities 3/ Soviet Goals and Objectives 4/ Attitudes and Perceptions of B 5/ Quantitative Measures of Trade, Aid and Personnel 6/ The Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation 7/ A Vanguard Party Certain indicators are of less significance than is usually assumed: the Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation, the Vanguard Party, Quantitative Measures of Trade and Aid, and Soviet Acquisition of Facilities. The most valuable indicators are Attitudes and Perceptions, Domestic Dissonance and possibly Personnel. The use of these indicators in conjunction with the analysis of a specific incident of attempted Soviet influence can determine the extent of Soviet influence. Analysts tend to attribute significant influence to the Soviet Union. However, often what is assumed to be significant influence involves mutual benefits and\or a lack of commitment to the issue by the Third World nation. Two factors are very important for determining the extent of Soviet influence: (1) The importance of the issue to the Third World nation; (2) The degree of conflict between Soviet objectives and those of the Third World nation. In the Somalia and Angola case studies, the extent of Soviet influence became evident when the Third World nation's vital interests were at stake. It is important not to over estimate Soviet influence, or to equate Soviet influence with Soviet control over a nation. The key to analysing inter-nation influence is realising that its extent can vary and it does have limitations.

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