Brezhnev has decided -advantages over other Soviet leaders by virtue of his supreme party position. As de facto chairman of the'Politburo, the General Secretary can and does presidetover'its operation and exert a deciding influence on the direction of policy. As chief- of the party Secretariat, he is in a better position than any other leader to manipulate the executive machinery for personal gain--primarily through appointments of clients to key posts in the party.and state apparatus.
Finally, as the man in' control of the military hierarchy and police forces, the General Secretary can call on the organizations of coercion for self-protection in the name of regime security. Nevertheless, the lesson of
Khrishchev's removal was that none of these powers can be taken for granted. To maintain his power, a General
Secretary must strive for dominance over his colleagues and, at the same time, not appear to threaten the survival of the oligarchy; otherwise, he falls prey to his political rivals.
This study is concerned with how Brezhnev has perceived his position within the oligarchy and maneuvered to consolidate his personal power. It examines his efforts to this end in three arenas of political action: the party Secretariat, the party-government duumvirate, and the amorphous military-security complex. The most importarit arena--and Brezhnev has appeared to recognize it as such--as been the Secretariat, where senior secretaries
Podgornyy and Shelepin seemed to wield more actual power in the first months after Khrushchev's fall than the
General Secretary himself. The paper follows Brezhnev's struggle for dominance over his secretarial rivals, beginning with his first tenuous moves within the Central Committee apparatus in late 1964, continuing with his assertive thrust for recognition during most of 1965, and reaching the breakthrough in December that year with Podgornyy's transfer from the Secretariat. It examines Brezhnev's use of indirect methods to neutralize Shelepin as a threat in that body. Finally, it traces Brezhnev's fostering of Kirilenko as "second in command," bringing relative stability to the Secretariat after 1967.
Another important area of potential danger to the
General Secretary is his shared-power relationship with
Premier Kosygin. Because this.subject has .been treated fairly exhaustively elsewhere, the study- focuses on the essentials of .this aspect of Brezhnev's struggle---primarily on his effort to gain and hold the preeminent position in the duumvirate.
Finally, this study investigates Brezhnev's method of .dealing with the regime's two biggest instruments of power--the military and the security organizations. It covers the highlights of his variable fortunes with a military organization that is divided roughly into two groupings: the advocates of conventional armaments and a flexible -response strategy whom Brezhnev apparently has favored, and the proponents of an overwhelming missileoriented deterrent force.