Abstract: It is often said that economists in general, and CIA analysts in particular, failed to understand until very late in the game just how serious the USSR's economic problems were. That failure, it was widely claimed, was the root cause of a more general failure on the part of the U.S. policy community to understand what was going on in the Soviet Union during the later Cold War period. It turns out, however, that the Soviet economic problem was understood from the mid-1960s on; in intellectual terms, the analysis was quite impressive. The Soviets themselves, moreover, understood the problem in much the same way as Western economists did. All this provides us with a key--perhaps the key--to understanding great power politics during the latter part of the Cold War.
About the Speaker: Marc Trachtenberg is Professor of Political Science at the University of California - Los Angeles. He studies national security strategy, diplomatic history, and international relations. He has been Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the German Marshall Fund, and the SSRC/MacArthur Foundation. His award-winning book, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963 (Princeton University Press, 1999), explores the profound impact of nuclear weapons on the conduct of international relations during the Cold War, making extensive use of newly opened documentary archives in Europe and the United States. History and Strategy (Princeton University Press, 1991) studies seminal events like the onset of World War I and the Cuban Missile Crisis to shed light on the role of force in international affairs. Professor Trachtenberg teaches courses on the history of international relations, international security, and historical research methods.