Commentary Magazine

Article Preview

The Kremlin's Terms to the West:
Politburo Foreign Policy from the Inside

- Abstract

Let there be no doubt about it: in the Soviet Union, final decisions rest with the Vojd (Russian for Führer) alone. So sharp an observer as James F. Byrnes notes in his book, Sneaking Frankly, how he often saw Stalin, in contrast to Molotov, make on-the-spot decisions of such importance that it appeared hardly conceivable that he was fundamentally dependent on the Politburo (Political Bureau of the Communist party of the USSR). Yet there is also no doubt that the Politburo can sway these decisions to an important extent. The Soviet Union is a one-party state—that is to say, the party makes the decisions and the state carries them out. The party machine is the one that counts; the machinery of the state itself is confined to purely administrative functions. At its pinnacle is, of course, Stalin, head of the party and sole vessel of sovereignty. But always there stands by his side the Politburo, acting as an advisory council and as the highest executive organ of the party, and thus of the state too.

About the Author