On the Battlefields of the Cold War: A Soviet Ambassador's Confession

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"For more than forty years Victor Israelyan served in the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs, rising through the ranks to become one of the Soviet Union's leading diplomats specializing in disarmament negotiations. He was forced to retire in 1987, a casualty of a system that was about to collapse under the weight of its contradictions. On the Battlefields of the Cold War offers unique insight into the volatile inner workings of the Soviet Foreign Ministry, where the battle lines of the Cold War were often first drawn." Israelyan brings to this memoir a wealth of experience, having worked with all the postwar Soviet foreign ministers - from Molotov and Vyshinsky to Gromyko and Shevardnadze - and established diplomatic ties to the West, particularly to the United States. As part of the middle tier of the diplomatic hierarchy, he was privy both to meetings of the Collegium of the Foreign Ministry as well as to the many informal, private discussions among rank-and-file diplomats. Israelyan explains how he and his colleagues; as faithful defenders of Soviet ideology, viewed the United States, the Soviet Unions main adversary and partner. He recalls encounters between Soviet and American officials, including one significant meeting with George H. W. Bush in the early years of his diplomatic career before he ascended to the presidency. He also tells of distinct factions within the Soviet foreign policy apparatus - factions that Soviet leaders sought to hide, fearing that any internal divisions might be interpreted by outsiders as discord.
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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
In the reconstruction of postwar Soviet foreign policy, Israelyan's memoir is more bricks than pilings but a very important contribution nonetheless. Israelyan served in key second-level positions in the Soviet Foreign Ministry from 1968 to 1987 and before that as a senior figure in the Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy. As one of the Soviet Union's deputy permanent representatives to the United Nations from 1968 until 1973, he was in the thick of key battles (over China's admission to the UN in 1971, the Middle East conflict, and the third Indo-Pakistani war). Subsequently, as head of the ministry's International Organization Department and then as the Soviet representative to the Geneva Committee on Disarmament, he had a firsthand view of the Soviet approach to arms control. He makes no effort to conceal the compromises he accepted at each stage of his career, and this lends credibility to his account of personalities, attitudes, and relationships inside the foreign-policymaking machinery. This is intriguing material for the general reader and valuable material for future historians.
From the Publisher

“Israelyan’s prose is brisk and lucid.”
—Jack F. Matlock, Jr., Russian Review

“While this is a work primarily for specialists and will not engender any grand revisions of our thinking about major aspects of the Cold War, such histories are useful because they show us how Soviet foreign policy was understood by those who carried it out and who, as Israelyan shows, became progressively disenchanted with the nonsense they had to espouse. Moreover, the author effectively conveys some of the atmosphere of the period and the issues that he worked on. Thus scholars who track Soviet foreign policy from 1960 to 1990 will derive considerable benefit from this memoir.”
—Dr. Stephen J. Blank, Parameters

“Both for those who experience it only as history and those who have enduring memories of life during that time, On the Battlefields of the Cold War is a fascinating resource in helping better understand this defining era in international relations.”
—Daniel C. Villanueva, Rocky Mountain Review

“Israelyan’s prose is brisk and lucid.”

—Jack F. Matlock, Jr., Russian Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271022970
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Victor Israelyan has had a rich and distinguished career spanning five decades as a physician, diplomat, scholar, and professor. He has written more than ten books, including Inside the Kremlin During the Yom Kippur War (Penn State, 1995).

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Table of Contents

1 Training for the Cold War 1
2 The First Collisions of the Cold War 23
3 Stalin Is Dead, What Next? 36
4 Sowing the Seeds of Hatred in Hungary 53
5 The Khrushchev Style of Diplomacy 66
6 Thaws and Frosts 86
7 On the Diplomatic Sidelines 106
8 The Battlefield, the UN 126
9 The Soviet Union's 105th Veto 143
10 The Cold War on the Middle East Front 159
11 China - A New Front in the Cold War 175
12 Time to Go Home 198
13 The Soviet Diplomatic Headquarters at Smolenskaya Square 236
14 An Uneasy Truce in the Cold War 259
15 The Apotheosis of the Cold War 299
16 Marking Time 325
17 The Beginning of the End of the Cold War 347
18 Feigned Friendship 366
19 Farewell to the Cold War 384
Conclusion 397
Index 403
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