Georgetown forum; Russian Revolution at sea
Russian Revolution. That's the topic for the eleven hundred and fifty fifty first consecutive broadcast of the Georgetown University radio forum. Another in a series of educational and informative programs from Washington D.C. the Yorktown forum was founded in 1946. This is Wallace Manning speaking to you by a transcription from the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of Georgetown University historic Jesuit seat of learning in the nation's capital. Today's discussion about the Russian Revolution that C participating are the honorable Gerard S. Smith former assistant secretary of state and director of the policy planning staff of the Department of State. Currently publisher of Interpol a Foreign Affairs magazine. Dr. Thomas W. will senior staff member of the RAND Corporation and professor at the Sino-Soviet Institute of the George Washington University.
And Mr. Edgar preen military affairs editor Copley News Service. In the field of foreign affairs we Americans are almost exclusively preoccupied by Vietnam and the problems of Southeast Asia. However in recent months observers have commented widely on the fact that the Soviet Union is increasing its maritime strength in the Mediterranean. In view of increasing tensions in Europe recent re appraisals of NATO's strength and direction and of constant tension in the Middle East. Soviet activity in the Mediterranean demands thoughtful analysis. We need to know more about the nature of the Soviet build up and what all of this portends for the future. For those reasons we have invited an authority on Soviet strategy a former diplomat who is very knowledgeable about naval affairs and a reporter who specializes in military analysis. We're
going to begin by asking Mr. preen about this title revolution at sea. Mr. Fanning the Russian Revolution at sea covers the entire spectrum of oceanic activity while a great deal of attention in the last months has been placed upon their move of warships into the Mediterranean must be remembered that they have increased activity in many other areas of the world. In the Norwegian Sea they've been holding exercises with the Warsaw Pact navies. They've sent task forces into the Indian Ocean for the first time calling out new ports in the Persian Gulf and Africa. Indian sub continent and the like. And they've even gone as far as to the South Atlantic where they've replenished at sea. The Navy itself has been I think characterized by a build up of missile
capability both in the surface ships and in their submarines they are on the road to matching our Polaris capability with long range rockets fired from submerged submarines. In addition they have many ship anti-ship missiles cruise missiles and one of their more ancient ones. As you remember sank the Israeli destroyer they lost last year. They have pushed their amphibious force development. They are strengthening their and broadening their naval infantry Marine Corps. They have built the first aircraft carrier actually a helicopter carrier called the Moscow and have one or two others under way but it's not only the Navy. They have the largest and most modern fishing fleet which not only helps them commercially but helps them in intelligence gathering and the like. They have come a
long way in building a modern merchant marine there are over 10 million tons now and their plan is to reach 27 million tons by 1980. Now this alone the merchant marine to protect it is going to require a large navy and they're on their way to producing that Navy to go along with this merchant marine. They are also are graduating more marine engineers naval architects and oceanographic experts and the rest of the world combined. So this this revolution at sea. Appears to be aimed at making this great land power also a great maritime power with particularly reference to the concentration in the Mediterranean. Could you direct your attention to that promo. Yes well as a matter of fact Mr. Fanning in the in recent weeks they have scaled down from a high of 52 to 53 combat and support ships in June and July of 1967 following the
Arab Israeli war to a total now 36 of 37. Now this is a temporary figure they have been averaging a little over 40 since last year and I suspect that they will come back and forth within the this range from 36 to to as many as 50. Of course they are. Winning friends by the presence of their fleet there they're gaining footholds use of bases in Syria in Algeria and Egypt they are allegedly And I think this is true they're trying to get into more. And you remember Lord Nelson back in 1799 said they're dying to get them all to the Russians. And this is not simply a communist push to the seas it's an old Russian desire. It seems to me that with this force in the Mediterranean they could if not cancel
out the U.S. successfully certainly give the president United States great pause before he would use the fleet say to to go to the aid of Israel if the Soviet fleet were off the Israeli coast and we had to jump over it. How does the Soviet How does the US fleet in the Mediterranean compare to the Soviet fleet. Oh it's far more powerful. For example we have two modern aircraft carriers with perhaps a hundred eighty to 200 aircraft of all types. We have submarines destroyers frigates and the like. Much better balance for us and far far greater striking power in it. And we believe the far greater seamanship ability and knowing the ocean and combat operations on the Russians.
Let's hear now from former Secretary Schmidt. Mr. Secretary. But the most interesting thing to me about this new maritime deployment is that it seems to reflect the same pressures that we in the United States felt. As much as 10 years ago when we saw that with the upcoming nuclear balance we have to find some type of force that if necessary was usable It was pretty clear that over from the 1956 that rocket threats were not going to deter minor aggressive moves and I'm struck with the difference in the Soviet attitude in 1956 you recall that when the British and French tried to take over the Suez Canal the Soviets a number of very serious threats of rocket destruction if the French-English attack didn't stop. Compare that with
1967 when the Arab Israeli war as if I am correct there were no such rocket threats at that point. The Soviets realized that their possibilities were quite limited about affecting that situation with force now they did to some extent. Deter Israeli attacks I think. For example in connection with the destruction of a destroyer that did Mr. Brainerd talked about the Soviet ships were in the same port as the vessel that fired this short range missile and the presence of those ships deterred further Israeli military operations. So I would look on the Soviet deployment in the Mediterranean as a search for usable military force in a time of nuclear balance which is I think Rayfield somewhat paralyzing in their military activities.
I would say too that the Soviets have seen that the American policy of containment has been relatively effective with a strong central front they have no great temptations to try to crack. Western Europe at their appeal to the third world has not been very great and therefore they haven't succeeded in generating revolutions to set up a communist nation. But they I think are looking for a way to end the run containment if you will and I think they look on this maritime deployment as a method revolutionary method if you will of asserting world influence and they can do this without the necessity of foreign bases and they can do it with out the great risk that would apply if they tried to get their way by continuing a policy of nuclear threats. How do you correlate that to the recent
reduction of the naval Soviet naval force in the Mediterranean do you think that's just a matter of the moment so if it's only as I think this is a cyclical thing there is a rhythm in Soviet deployments in the Mediterranean we have seen that in past years they build up and then they return to their Black Sea bases so I don't think this is a significant long range shift at all. Dr. Wolfe we haven't heard from you yet. I would like to put the developments in Soviet naval power in a somewhat wider framework to begin with this as surely been revolution at sea. Yet there are also there are also some major constraints and problems which the Soviet Union face is that I think one ought to note to complete the picture too. Before I get to some of these constraints let me say that
so far as the role of the development of Soviet naval power fits into the overall Soviet military policy. It would it would seem to me that what has been happening roughly in the last four years since the brazen if Seaghan regime came to power at then an attempt to complete work that was really being begun in the Soviet Union under Khrushchev the foreign policy of the Soviet Union under Khrushchev was was one which witness the assertion that breaking out from its continental shell of the Soviet Union in the assertion of Soviet global interests. However during Khrushchev's time there was not the development of the kind of military power commensurate with this sort of policy. Khrushchev started this job but he didn't get very far with it. So in a sense so far as overall Soviet policy military policy fits foreign
policy I think is as Mr. Smith observed that this has been a process of trying to bring Soviet military power somewhat more into line with the concept of the Soviet Union as a global power. And one finds this in the utterance of of Soviet admirals now who say. The Soviet navy is being developed in order to protect the state wide the global interests state interests. The Soviet Union. This is the political idiom that one haven't heard several years ago. The other point that that was made by Mr Premier that having created a large maritime force the Soviet Union is also obliged to look to the protection of this force is in a sense and here I come to the first of the constraints that I said I would mention in a sense by having 10 million times of shipping large trawler fleets and so on around the world without the kind of naval power to
protect it the Soviet Union is giving hostages to Western powers. In any crises it may develop. And this this is a definite constraint on Soviet policy. It is going to take them a long time to develop the kind of naval power that can protect their maritime interests of the oceans. Because the Soviet Union has a long head start to overcome some critics have felt. One particular point that unless the Soviet Union embarks on a major programme of strategic attack carrier building they are not going to be in a position to challenge in an offensive way the western western sea power. This is an area where where the Soviet Union historically has has faced this decision a couple of times and turned it down Stalin turned down the building of
carriers too expensive so on. The decision was also made after World War Two to turn down carriers. The building of the helicopter carriers which was mentioned is a sort of compromise but it does not put the Soviet Union in a position where they can hope to challenge offensively the kind of naval power that the West primarily the United States now possesses. A second major constraint. The Soviets face besides this this economic and technical one of a building large surface forces with surface air power. Is is that the landlocked character of the waters in which the four major Soviet territorial fleets reside at it perhaps is not generally appreciated the Soviet Union has not one Navy but really for territorial fleets. The Northern Fleet about the Black Sea in the Pacific. And these are are separated from each other. Their egress
to the to the blue waters of the oceans is in most cases through narrow straits the Dardanelles in case of getting into the Mediterranean. Gotta get a case of getting into the northern Atlantic from from the Baltic and so on. This imposes a very real handicap on Soviet naval planners. That means that they must that their their foreign policy worked assiduously to try to it to assure the absent of people other people whose territory lies astride Soviet strategic access to the Mediterranean to the oceans. Although these are these are perhaps the the two major obstacles that I would stress along with the very real departures from past practice and innovations which you've already been mentioned here.
Mr. Brennan I would just like to mention also another point in this that has to do with this Russian Revolution at sea. And that is the choice that the maritime community and the Soviet Union leading the Navy now has in the highest circles of the Soviet Union more of the other day. He's our chief of naval operations four star admiral said with tongue and cheek. Look at here the Soviet opposite number as a five star admiral. And I've only got four. Now you said this jokingly but there was a point there that the naval viewpoint is being heard at the highest councils and having a much greater weight than it has had in the past. I think this is part of the picture. Mr. Smith just to show the
historical background of Soviet interest in this part of the world that we're talking about the Mediterranean I am reminded that at the Potsdam conference in 1945 Soviets put in a claim for a mandate over Libya. And part of the management of that 10 year now 23 years later they're in a fair way to getting something like that they have a growing political position on the northern coast of Africa. They have large numbers of technicians in Algeria and they have some expectation of taking over eventually the French naval base of Marysville Kabeer which I understand is one of the finest naval installations in the world. So that to that extent the Soviets have gotten a fair measure of what they were looking for 25 years ago. I'd also like to stress the the danger of the increasing
danger of this situation because when you have American and Soviet ships maneuvering as close together as the navies of these two countries are maneuvering it seems to me you have in combination with a crisis situation like the Arab-Israeli crisis a fairly dangerous tinderbox situation. And I would hope that we don't in our interest militarily neutralizing this Soviet thrust. We don't forget the possibilities of arms control it seems to me that if we can get some progress in the ballistic missile field with the Soviets we ought to at the same time think of techniques for making less dangerous this fact that two large navies are operating in such close waters as the Mediterranean. Why would it be possible for instance to have an arrangement that ships would not maneuver within X miles of
each other. Why wouldn't it be possible to think as some people have done about areas of the Mediterranean which nuclear weapons would not be introduced now I suppose that. This has all of the problems that non-nuclear zones have but where the dangers are is great is this. I would think it deserves a good deal of consideration to think out some fair and verifiable arms control arrangement. The way things are going it seems to me that there is some common possibility of limited hostile contacts between ships of these two navies and it seems to me this is a contingency that we ought to do our best to make sure that the United States does not have any responsibility for the world. My comment on this would be that where While I agree that this is certainly an area in which
it would be very useful to give. Arms Control attention too. I think one is bucking their long term trend. Perhaps this makes it even more important to do what you suggest. But the long term trend it seems to me is this that and I go back to the point I made a little earlier about the long the long range import of Soviet policy the Soviet Union is in the process of becoming I stress in the press as a truly global military power they were not. They were Continental military power until recent years the United States has been for some time in a global military power. What is now in the process of happening is that these two powers who have a good many conflicting interests not only in the Mediterranean area but in other parts of the world are both moving into a period when they will possess possess global overlapping global military power that is that's going to be getting
into each other's hair with increasing frequency over the past few years. One one can cite a long list of encounters at sea between our own and Soviet vessels perhaps the most dramatic of these was the was the case. Not too long ago went to Soviet U-16 bombers were buzzing and I think those are craft carrier Essex and one of them misjudged and plunged into the into the sea and broke up causing the Sea of Japan they actually had to light it. Yes they're destroyed there. There was also but there there have been numerous instances and and I think that the direction in which the military power of both countries is moving together with an interest in the third in various regions of the sort of the Third World which is not always but let's
say the least in harmony that we are going to be phase probably with a situation in which in which the possibility of confrontations between Soviet and American military power the the power of the incidence of these cases is I'm more likely to rise than not in my opinion. Well we were talking about the Mediterranean and the situation there seems to me that many of our NATO friends allies are much more concerned about the developing situation there than the American people and possibly the American government. They seem to look on it as a threat to the southern flank of NATO particularly since France is in a ambivalent situation we don't know whether we can count on RR or not. I personally think we can but with France's withdrawal from the integrated command as
Italy Greece and Turkey are no longer connected to the main part of NATO there is no common border except through France and I suppose as a change of policy Albania Albania becomes pro-Soviet. Well we can have Soviet naval base in the Adriatic and there are all kinds of possibilities that this presence of the Soviet fleet and political ambitions in this basin and the present. Mr. SMITH Well having spelled out the dimensions of this thrust it seems to me we should give a little thought of what the American reaction ought to be it seems to me that we have here. We're not in a crisis situation and I don't think this is an emergency I think we've got a good measure of superiority and I think we ought to plan to keep it. This isn't a case of parity vs. superiority of Dota clearly be a case of superiority retained. And this is the case you know I would think for a
substantial modernization program for the United States Navy because most of our ships are very much older than these Soviet ships that we're talking about. Left brain. Well I certainly concur that the Soviet navy sensually as a post World War Two Navy and they've been building new ships at a pretty good clip whereas we've built one major surface ship I think in the last six or seven years outside of a carrier and. Certainly we've got a long way to go to to rebuild this obsolescence fleet now in the Mediterranean I think. One helpful thing will be the return of British naval power into the Mediterranean they're withdrawing East of Suez and if they can put a carrier and several more ships in there that would certainly be a partial solution for that area. Doctor with me in terms of policy what do
you think the United States should do in the face of this Russian Revolution at sea. I tend to agree with Mr. Smith that this is not this is not the case which requires crash measures but. Mainly the to look to the long term maintenance of our our own position and I would stress that of that of our relations with with our allies in case of the of the Mediterranean problem one shouldn't forget that in addition to the French the Italians have a very substantial Navy so far as so far as the number of ships their character goes the Italian navy itself surpasses the the the Soviet naval presence in the Mediterranean so that I think the the repair of our relations with
our allies and they the maintenance of our of our own power and its modernization are the are the. The answer is to the to the military side of this problem and the other is the other part of the problem of mending that the political fences also has to be attended to. Is it is it different this time than with than with the Soviet missiles in Cuba we have about 15 seconds. Does this not disturb the balance any more than that did this expansion of the Soviet navy. A lot of think long term if this tendency is not checked. The Soviets do get naval equivalence with this it certainly would affect the overall Soviet American balance. Thank you very much gentlemen for your discussion of the Russian Revolution at sea or thanks to the Honorable Gerard S. Smith former assistant secretary of state and
director of the policy planning staff of the Department of State. Currently publisher of interplay Foreign Affairs magazine to Dr. Thomas W. Wolfe senior staff member of the RAND Corporation and professor at the Sino-Soviet Institute of the George Washington University. And to Mr. L. Edgar preen a military affairs editor of Copley News Service. You have attended the weekly discussion program the Georgetown University radio forum broadcaster which was transcribed in the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of historic Georgetown University in Washington D.C. next week you will hear discussed the poor and food marketing. Our panel at that time will include Mr. Dale Anderson of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mr. Wilford L. White director of the small business guidance and Development Center Howard University and Mr. George L. small of small company York Pennsylvania food wholesalers. This program has been presented in the interest of public education by Georgetown University. Your moderator.
- Georgetown forum
- Russian Revolution at sea
- Producing Organization
- Georgetown University
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program features Girard C. Smith, former Assistant Secretary of State and director of policy planning staff of the State Department; Dr. Thomas W. Wolfe, senior staff member, RAND Corp.; L. Edgar Prina, Copley News Service.
- Series Description
- Moderated by Wallace Fanning, this series presents a panel of guests discussing a variety of topics. The radio series launched in 1946. It also later aired on WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C. These programs aired 1968-69.
- Broadcast Date
- Global Affairs
- Media type
Guest: Smith, Gerard C.
Guest: Wolfe, Thomas W.
Guest: Prina, L. Edgar
Moderator: Fanning, Wallace
Producing Organization: Georgetown University
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-51-638 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Georgetown forum; Russian Revolution at sea,” 1968-12-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 7, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-599z4225.
- MLA: “Georgetown forum; Russian Revolution at sea.” 1968-12-16. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 7, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-599z4225>.
- APA: Georgetown forum; Russian Revolution at sea. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-599z4225