Why did we get the collapse of the USSR so wrong?
It is now 20 years since the sudden and catastrophic collapse of the former Soviet Union. A huge amount of analytical effort in the West, both in academia and in the intelligence community, went into scrutinising every detail of the political, economic, military, technological, demographic and cultural progress of the USSR. And yet, when the end came it was surprisingly quick and ranks as one of the great intellectual and intelligence failures of the 20th century.
This lecture examines the reasons why we failed to see the end of the military superpower that was the former USSR. It looks at such issues as preconceived views of Soviet Communism’s strengths, the tendency not to see the intellectual wood for the trees, and the enormous pressures to conform with the conventional wisdom about Soviet strengths. It concludes by asking the question: can there be a recurrence of simplistic, straight-line extrapolations about another rising power, such as China?
Paul Dibb is Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. His previous positions include: Head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defence, Director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation, and Head of the National Assessments Staff (National Intelligence Committee).
He is the author of five books and four reports to government, as well as more than 120 academic articles and monographs about the global strategic outlook, the security of the Asia-Pacific region, the US alliance, and Australia’s defence policy. He wrote the 1986 Review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities (the Dibb Report) and was the primary author of the 1987 Defence White Paper. His book The Soviet Union: the Incomplete Superpower was published in 1986 by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
Presented by the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre
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Monday, October 31, 2011
USSR Collapse Intelligence Failure
Professor Paul Dibb will speak on "Why did we get the collapse of the USSR so wrong?", at the Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, 7 November 2011.