November 6, 2007
The essays in this volume, which spotlight critical trends in Russian political and economic development, are dedicated to the memory of George Kolt, who for many years served in key U.S. intelligence positions dealing with Europe and the former Soviet Union. As one of the few public faces of the U.S. intelligence community, Kolt linked the policy world of Washington and the academic community in the United States and abroad. As a long-time distinguished senior intelligence official, he left a lasting imprint on the intelligence community as a mentor to numerous younger analysts, many of whom have reached positions of prominence in their service.
In addition to the original contributions addressing current issues, the volume concludes with a declassified paper by George Kolt himself, written in April 1991 as the Soviet Union was falling apart. Kolt's visionary memorandum—a concise and sober assessment of the Soviet Union's decline in the midst of a whirlwind—is useful reading for analysts and policymakers dealing with Russia today. The memorandum warned the policy-analytic community that our ability to predict Russia's future course is limited at best, even as it ventured predictions that proved to be very accurate. But, most of all, Kolt's memorandum highlighted critical questions about Russia's transformation, many of which remain unanswered to the present day—questions that once again remind us about the importance of focusing on fundamentals and taking the long view.
Eugene B. Rumer is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Celeste A. Wallander is a visiting associate professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a senior associate in the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program.