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The Collapse of Communism: The Untold Story

Edward Jay Epstein
The CIA throughout its entire history was looked at as a pragmatic organization. Something dedicated to action. We did not understand the ideological nature of the KGB. And in some sense only with the defection of Anatoliy Golitsyn were the eyes open to that KGB was involved in much more than simply operation intelligence. General Sejna, who I spent some time with, and Golitsyn and other people that were describing why the purpose to intelligence as intelligence was means to an end not an ending itself. The CIA didn’t know what to make of them. American political leadership wasn’t interested in hearing these very complex views of Soviet ambitions. They wanted to be black and white. So when General Sejna came and started to talk about the use of drugs, for example, as means of weakening Western society, that wasn’t on the agenda.

The successful deception often depends on telling people what they want to hear. Now when you tell American politicians and American elected officials “You won the Cold War”, it’s a message they want to hear. Why should they question it? Why should Ronald Reagan question it? Why should George Bush question it? They can now take credit for it. So it wasn’t in anyone interest, and also they believed it, that’s what makes deception. And so with Glasnost, and with Gorbachev moving the Soviet Union from hard line ideological enemy committed to something called communism to a more flexible, pragmatic society much more like existed in Northern Europe, it was accepted.

I think there is actually more danger from Russia and its exceeding influence over the world now then it was at the height of the so-called Cold War. Russia now controls oil and large proportion of oil and natural gas needed by Europe and needed by the United States and by the industrial world then they did in the height of the Cold War. And it actually has more influence over the Western Europe that it had before.