chapter  17
Enemy image and identity in the Warsaw Pact
ByMichael Ploetz
Pages 11

During the Cold War, the mercantile and generally rather peaceable societies of the West found themselves engaged in a protracted conflict with an adversary whose mentality was shaped by an entirely different set of values. Frequently, western decision-makers and political scientists found it quite difficult and even tedious to understand the strange mindset of their communist opponents. During the Vietnam War, for instance, the sophisticated inhabitants of Robert McNamara’s Pentagon found it more worthwhile to listen to their own ‘scientific’ monologues than to analyse the strategy and mentality of the Vietnamese communists.1 Similarly, the strategic concepts of the Warsaw Pact were often not analysed as an intellectual system in their own right but translated into the familiar and comforting terms of western strategic thought. In his plea for arms control, Hedley Bull did not treat the USSR as a distinct polity with a gruesome record of internal and external violence but rather as some sort of nineteenth-century European state not too dissimilar to the USA.2