MODEL OR ALLY? by Richard Lowenthal


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Communist area expert Richard Lowenthal has collected and refurbished a selection of his previously-published scholarly essays to shed light on a Soviet foreign policy paradox: should the Russians require strict adherence to their model as a condition of foreign aid? Or will mere friendship do? Indeed, the question is moot because the Russians have had no choice. As Lowenthal laboriously documents, the Soviet model has not proved viable in most developing countries (what model has?). And many of the regimes that found economic aspects of the Russian system attractive, ""in no way shared the ideological goals of the communists."" The essays, some only loosely related, include a survey of single-party states ranging from the Arab world and black Africa to Kemalist Turkey and even fascist Italy. Others deal with ""the respective advantages and handicaps of different political systems"" and the ""rise of the single-party system in Russia."" If much of this seems rather wide of the mark or outdated, it is probably because many of the essays--while substantially expanded and updated--still reflect their origins as articles or chapters of books published mostly in the late 1960s. Moreover, it is not particularly surprising that the Russians (Lowenthal deals almost parenthetically with the Chinese) have had to take their friends where they found them in the mixed bag of Third World systems. What makes this more than a sourcebook for academics is the ideological importance that the Soviets have historically placed on their model for developing countries; that they are now supporting regimes that don't even support their own communists is a paradox worth pursuing.

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 1976
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press