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Between Communist Giants

Nikhil Chakravartty

Edited by Alvin Z. Rubinstein
Praeger Publishers, 1975, 231, Price Not Stated

VOLUME I NUMBER 4 October - December 1976

International developments have been unfolding with such rapidity in the second half of the present century that any attempt to survey them is in danger of being outdated between the time of its writing and its presentation to the reader. This is particularly true of the Third World in which phenomenal changes have been taking place before our very eyes. The volume under review suffers from a further handicap in so far as the Chinese influence in the world outside can hardly be examined in isolation from the happenings at home which during the last five years have been subjected in a very large measure to the overpow­ering personalized politics around the father figure of Mao Tse-tung. The last phase of the Great Helmsman’s colourful career lacked that clear direc­tion which was so perceptible in the earlier periods, of the Chinese Revolution. Rubinstein in opening the discussion has war­ned that ‘there is clearly no Rosetta stone for deciphering influence’ and has brought out the difficulties in measuring any country's influence over another. However, adherence to certain broad criteria has helped the contributors to the volume to reach certain significant as well as interesting conclusions: for instance, the appraisal of Soviet influence in India by William Barnds makes it clear that while it is difficult to describe Soviet goals ‘and especially their priorities’, Moscow’s success in this direction is due to the fact that Soviet and Indian interests were similar rather than because Moscow influenced New Delhi. Barnds makes an ex­tensive assessment covering diplomatic (with special reference to Tashkent), political, commercial, economic and military spheres. Inevitably he dis­cusses the Soviet concept of a collective security system for Asia. He comes to the significant con­clusion that ‘the major impact of Soviet efforts in India has been to enable New Delhi to pursue more effectively policies it wanted to follow in any case’—a rather surprising rebuff to those in India and abroad who have denounced the Indo-Soviet Treaty as having mortgaged Indian interests to Moscow, a rebuff administered by one who has served the CIA for fourteen years, as Barnds’s record shows. Unfortunately, none of the contributions takes up a parallel study of Peking’s influence in India. However, Rubinstein himself makes an observation which is worth quoting: ‘In the early 1960s Peking embarked on what appeared to be a major effort to ...

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