The analysis of dezinformatsia here provided by Richard Shultz and Roy Godson is overloaded with scholarly paraphernalia, ranging from statistical tables of Soviet "overt propaganda themes" to an erratic glossary containing a pompous and unnecessary definition of "forgery" ("Forgery, one of many disinformation techniques, is the use of authentic-looking but false documents and communiques"). Because of a zeal to appear "learned," the authors' style and method of presentation often get in the way of their message. Nonetheless, Dezinformatsia contains much valuable information about Soviet propaganda methods. Unlike some other writers in this field, Shultz and Godson properly emphasize the central importance of International Information Departments of the Communist Party's Central Committee rather than focus entirely on the KGB. The book also includes a useful analysis of Soviet manipulation of front groups to further the U.S.S.R.'s foreign policy goals.
If Dezinfonnatsia has a major sub stantive flaw, it is its failure to give sufficient attention to Soviet exploitation of the non-Soviet press, which is the rhetorical technique that most immediately strikes the reader of Soviet publications. In connection with the Korean airliner outrage, for example, the Soviet countercharge of espionage was elaborately buttressed by references to Western sources ranging from the San Francisco Examiner to the New York Times columnist Tom Wicker (who, as one emigre commentator put it, "frequently provides Soviet newspapers with extremely useful quotations"). Similarly, a recent Pravda diatribe on "psychological warfare against Afghanistan" cited three separate non-Soviet sources (the Christian Science Monitor, the USIA, and the "Indian magazine Link") in addition to agencies of the Afghan puppet regime.
When convenient Western sources do not already exist, it is easy enough to create them, and Soviet chutzpah in this area knows no limits. A good illustration is the Soviet coverage of the assassination of Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, who was shot to death by his thuggish comrades of the New Jewel Movement, a party inspired by the Soviet Union and its hirsute marionette, Fidel Castro. Shortly after the American liberation of the island, Pravda suddenly announced that Bishop had been murdered by the CIA. Pravda's source for this remarkable intelligence was an obscure English language weekly located (of all places) in New Delhi.
According to Pravda (December 20,1983),
The weekly magazine New Wave has published facts incontrovertably demonstrating that the murder of Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was carried out by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency on orders from the White House. . . . Based on the testimony of Grenadian eyewitnesses who fled the island after its occupation, the magazine writes that the CIA succeeded in recruiting the chief of the Prime Minister's personal bodyguard and one of his subordinates, who carried out Washington's order and shot Bishop.
However, as a commentator for the Russian-language New York daily Novaye Russkoye Slovo noted, not only is New Wave too small to employ any foreign correspondents, but at the time of Bishop's murder Grenada was crawling with Soviet journalists, including a Tass correspondent. (Now the Soviets have issued a postage stamp to commemorate the "fortieth anniversary of the birth of Maurice Bishop, the Prime Minister of the People's Revolutionary government in Grenada, who met his death in 1983 at the hands of enemies of the Grenadian revolution.")
Though Shultz and Godson frequently sacrifice clarity for pedantry, any attempt to expose the Soviet disregard for truth can only be welcome.
Dezinformatsia—Active Measures in Soviet Strategy by Richard H. Shultz and Roy Godson; Pergamon Brassey's; Washington.
Henry Mason III is an attorney in Chicago