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A Cold War Crusader on an Ideological Battlefield: Andrew Eiva, the KGB, and the Soviet-Afghan War
January 19, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
An analysis of Andrew Eiva’s role as a Cold War crusader based on material he wrote as a lobbyist, Western media accounts, and clandestine reports about him from the files of the Lithuanian KGB reveals his behind-the-scenes significance as an ideologically-driven individual outside of the confines of government helping to shape US policy during the Soviet-Afghan War. The conflict in Afghanistan, the final proxy war of the Cold War, began with the Soviet invasion in December 1979 and lasted until their withdrawal in February 1989, pitting vague Western notions of “liberty” and “freedom” against an ardent Soviet belief in the liberating force of socialist “revolution.” As a lobbyist in the 1980s Andrew Eiva pursued strategies informed by his ideological assumptions to critique US bureaucracy and compel a stronger response to Soviet actions in Afghanistan, and he definitely had an impact. Soviet leaders were likewise driven by ideological imperatives, as Vojtech Mastny reminds us that the Soviet regime’s collapse “does not necessarily detract from the significance of its ideological underpinnings as long as it lasted.” Even in the 1980s Soviet leaders still clung to “ideological preconceptions” postulating “the ultimate victory of their system despite temporary setbacks.” I flesh out the ideological assumptions embedded in both Eiva’s portrayal of his own background, actions, and worldview and the KGB’s reports about him in order to reveal his role as a key figure and highlight the competing ideological frameworks of the Cold War superpowers.
Jeff Jones is Associate Professor in Russian/Soviet and world history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His book, Everyday Life and the ‘Reconstruction’ of Soviet Russia During and After the Great Patriotic War, 1943-1948, was published by Slavica Publishers in 2008. He is currently working on a book entitled Smoke, Mirrors, and Memories: Perspectives of the Soviet-Afghan War, 1979-2014.
The Carolina Seminar: Russia and Its Emipres, East and West is co-sponsored by the Carolina Seminar Program, the UNC Department of History, and the Duke Council for European Studies. Please note that the participants will give an overview of their projects, but will not read a formal paper. Instead, papers or book chapters will be posted here ahead of time for those who are interested in attending and participating in the discussion.