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Aleksanteri Conference







Dragomir, Elena:

When the other is ‘our elder brother’. The role of perceptions in constructing the ‘deviant’ profile of Romania’s foreign policy at the beginning of the 1960s

During the first years of the 1960s Romania defined its so-called independent foreign policy doctrine. Although the causes and motives of its ‘deviation’ from Moscow’s line have been largely studied, the findings of the previous research seem questionable in the light of the data offered by the new archive documents. While the previous studies used exclusively an objectivist approach and focused on the actors’ motives and the external pressures to explain the ‘deviation’, the newly available archive documents suggest that the decision was heavily influenced by the way the Romanian decision-makers perceived the external environment and identified threats. The paper does not intend to accurately describe the process that lead from perception to decision, but does attempt to show that, in the study of the Romanian ‘deviation’, perceptions must be taken into account. The paper is structured in two major parts. The first one shortly presents the scholarship in this filed and reveals its methodological problems: the objectivist approach and the misuse of the archive sources. The second one, on the basis on the new archive documents and using a perceptual approach, presents completely new explanations for the Romanian ‘deviation’. 

In analyzing the leaders’ perceptions, I use the so-called representational model, which assumes that inferences may be drawn directly from the subject’s statements. I focus on one attribute: perceptions of the Soviet Union’s aggressive intentions/threats towards Romania. I conclude that at the beginning of the 1960s the Soviet Union – because of its plans and actions – was perceived in Romania as a direct and imminent threat to the Romanian state and, to some extent, to the communist ideology. These perceptions are highly responsible for the adoption of the so-called ‘Romanian independent foreign policy doctrine’ developed in the 1960s. The study brings into attentions the relevance the ideology (perceptions, ideas, beliefs, norms) had in the decision-making process during the Cold War. It also reveals the need for further research on the role of the Romanian communist leaders’ perceptions of the ‘others’ in adopting one decision or another. 

Saturday 31 Oct 9.30 -11.30 SESSION 7 SESSION 4
Panel: The Enemy of My Enemy: The Search for Independent Socialism