Home / Articles / Assessing Sustainability of Command Economies and Totalitarian Regimes: The Soviet Case
Assessing the economic reality and prospects of the Soviet Union was of major importance for U.S. policy-making throughout the Cold War. In the future, the U.S. is likely to be faced with adversaries with similarly opaque command (or mixed command and free market) economies; accurately assessing their size and health will remain an important U.S. intelligence task. This task is generally seen as requiring the development of complex quantitative methodologies which, despite their necessary reliance on poor quality and perhaps manipulated data, produce an output that can appear “objective” and precise. This can be counteracted in part by focusing on the likely biases in the input date, as caused, for example, by the ulterior motives of those providing it. Furthermore, intelligence must constantly be searching for, and making use of, new sources of insights even if they are more subjective and less precise in nature.