U.S. Policy / USSR

Johnson, R.W. Shootdown: Flight 007 and the American Connection. New York: Penguin Books, 1987. 450 pages.

When Korean Air Flight 007 was shot down hundreds of miles inside Soviet territory on September 1, 1983, the Reagan administration had already decided that the USSR was an "evil empire." George Shultz went on TV the next morning and accused the Soviets of knowingly shooting down a passenger plane, which is tantamount to the murder of innocent civilians. Many felt that the Reagan administration was jumping to conclusions. Was someone hiding something? This book by R.W. Johnson, a Fellow in Politics at Oxford University, is one of the best on the events surrounding this tragedy.

The incident continues to be controversial, and there is still no agreement on the actual flight path of KAL 007. Some technical analysts point to one or more sharp turns in the path that brought the flight into Soviet airspace, suggesting a deliberate spying mission. Others believe the path was straight but on a wrong heading from the beginning, blaming improperly-programmed equipment and an inattentive crew. Even when Boris Yeltsin released some transcripts from the recovered flight recorder on October 14, 1992, the evidence contained so many gaps and inconsistencies that more questions were produced than answers.

Yakovlev, Nikolai. CIA Target -- The USSR. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1984. 263 pages.

Nikolai Yakovlev is a well-known Soviet historian with over twenty books to his credit, which have sold a total of over five million copies. A number of these have been on U.S. history, including biographies of George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and one tantalizingly titled "They Overstepped the Line" about John and Robert Kennedy. Yakovlev began as an expert on the U.S. at the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1959, but in recent years has concentrated his attention on Soviet history.

"CIA Target -- The USSR" is a stylized, polemical history of the U.S. intelligence community's activities against the Soviet Union, beginning with the OSS at the end of World War II, the co-option of the U.S. academic community in the 1950s, and continuing through the CIA's use of Soviet exiles and dissidents. American sources are used throughout the book. Yakovlev makes the case that the U.S. is engaged in far-reaching, persistent psychological warfare against the USSR. "The CIA's strategic objective in this campaign remains the undermining of the Soviet system, and the ultimate goal, although no longer put in so many words, is its overthrow."

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