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Review: [untitled]

Author(s): Dov B. Lungu

Reviewed work(s):
Military Occupation and Diplomacy: Soviet Troops in Romania, 1944-1958 by Sergiu Verona
; J. F. Brown
Source: The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 3 (Jun., 1993), p. 907
Published by: American Historical Association
Stable URL:
Accessed: 01/06/2009 05:53
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American Historical Review.
Modern Europe 907
unfold rapidly. Of considerable value, too, is
Schmidt's analysis of Rakovski's writings on the na-
tional emancipation of the Balkan peoples in condi-
tions of economic backwardness and dependence on
the great powers, which, he suggests, placed Rak-
ovski's thought alongside that of leading Marxist
theoreticians of imperialism.
This book is not an easy read because the author
expects his audience to have had a grounding in the
history and doctrines of socialism and populism. But
it is well worth a read because his approach to
controversial theoretical problems and his insights
into the vicissitudes of Romanian socialism contribute
substantially to our understanding of both Romanian
Social Democracy and the Romanian debate on de-
University of Illinois,
Occupation and Diplomacy:
Soviet Troops in Romania, 1944-1958. Foreword by J.
F. BROWN. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.
1992. Pp. xii, 211. $34.95.
In the summer of 1958, the Soviet Union withdrew its
troops from Romania, where they had been stationed
since 1944. The 30,000 Soviet soldiers there had not
been needed for securing the communication lines
with Austria, as maintained by Moscow; the shortest
route from the Soviet Union to Austria did not pass
through Romania. Despite Moscow's claims to the
contrary, the real reason for their presence was to
ensure Soviet political domination of Romania. Not
surprisingly, their withdrawal was also politically mo-
tivated: the goals were to enhance the acceptance of
the Soviet Union as a legitimate power and to obtain
a similar reduction in the number of U.S. troops in
Western Europe.
American and British diplomats paid little atten-
tion at the time to the Soviet move, considering it
inconsequential for the balance of power between the
forces of the Warsaw Pact and NATO. In this book,
Sergiu Verona argues, in contrast, that this withdraw-
al-the first from any of the East European countries
that were occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of
World War 11-was important both as a precedent
and as a case illustrating the interplay between mili-
tary and diplomatic actions. In appearance a military
measure, the withdrawal was in fact one of several
Soviet diplomatic moves that signaled the beginning
of a policy of seeking accommodation with the West.
Inaugurated by Nikita Khrushchev and undergo-
ing fluctuations after his demise, the policy of accom-
modation received a new impetus under Mikhail
Gorbachev. That is, in addition to the similarities
between the domestic policies pursued by the two
leaders, there are also parallels between their policies
on national security and arms control. Writing imme-
diately after the August 1991 coup against Gor-
bachev, Verona maintains that the Soviet leader's
failure to bring Khrushchev's legacy to its logical
conclusion-that is, a Soviet withdrawal from Eastern
Europe while maintaining political influence in that
region-was due to severe internal problems and the
wave of change that his domestic policies had stirred
throughout Eastern Europe.
As far as Romania itself is concerned, the author
shows that the Soviet withdrawal was first suggested
to the Soviets, albeit timidly, by the Romanians in
1955. It took Moscow another three years to arrive at
the conclusion that such a move would not be detri-
mental to Soviet security, because of Romania's geo-
graphical position well inside the Eastern bloc, and
that in fact it might create an atmosphere conducive
to real concessions from the West. Furthermore, the
Soviets considered Romania so docile that they
thought it would be safe to turn it into a showcase of
an allegedly remodeled Eastern Europe by allowing it
some latitude in the sphere of foreign policy.
Later on the Romanians took their role seriously,
and tensions between Bucharest and Moscow in-
creased. This plausible explanation for the origins of
Romania's independent stand from the early 1960s
onward has the advantage of reconciling two contra-
dictory schools of thought, one maintaining that
communist Romania's independence was a sham
staged by Moscow and the other arguing that it
represented a genuine attempt by Romanian commu-
nists to distance themselves from their Russian men-
tors so as to gain legitimacy in their own country.
The book also contains incursions into many other
issues such as Romanian internal politics, Romania's
relations with its other neighbors, and American and
British policies toward Eastern Europe. These are all
pertinent issues, but their treatment is often laden
with unwarranted details that obscure the focus of the
study. Generally, Verona offers us too many specula-
tions and too few answers. He demonstrates impres-
sive investigative skills and subtle judgment but, not
unexpectedly, the meticulous examination of the
American and British archival material can hardly
compensate for the lack of access to the Romanian
and Soviet primary sources.
University of Toronto
SABRINA P. RAMET. Nationalism and Federalism in Yugo-
slavia, 1962-1991. 2d ed. Bloomington: Indiana Uni-
versity Press. 1992. Pp. xviii, 346. Cloth $39.95, paper
Many "experts," official and academic, were surprised
at the rapid disappearance of Yugoslavia from the
map of Europe amid the fires of a cruel civil war.
They should not have been. Sabrina P. Ramet's study
of the politics of that unfortunate country clearly
shows how the centrifugal forces of narrow national-