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No. 55 Abstract

Mark Harrison, "Secrets, Lies, and Half Truths: The Decision to Disclose Soviet Defense Outlays."

In the mid 1980s Soviet leaders began to regret the price they were paying in the international arena for extreme secrecy in military affairs. New evidence shows that in the autumn of 1986 they decided in principle to release more information about military force levels and defense outlays. They went on to agonize over this commitment over the next two and a half years. Senior military and other officials resisted and delayed implementation. The new figures that Gorbachev announced in 1989 may not have the whole truth, but were probably better than a half-truth. The episode throws more light on the burdens of secrecy than on the supposed burdens of military spending.