Soviet commandos were killing citizens in the Baltic republics last January, in part because the old military thinking and the groups whose interests are served by it are alive and well in Gorbachev's newly packaged Soviet state. The Soviet military has always been hypersensitive about its vulnerability on the northern flank. Recent radical changes in the European security structure play to such fear and heighten anxiety about the Baltic states' demands for independence, as well as about the implications of those demands for the military's future. If we wish to understand what is happening now on the borders of the Soviet Union, and where it might eventually lead (or be led), we have to answer an unwelcome question: If the Cold War is over, why do we still feel a chill wind?
The old geostrategic views that drove foreign policy before Gorbachev are still influencing policy now. Had there been a war in Europe in pre-perestroika days, the Soviets would have fought a fierce holding action on the northern flank (what the Soviets called the Northwestern Theater of Operations, or TVD) in order to ensure a decisive defeat of NATO forces on the Central Front in West Germany (the Western TVD). Victory would have had to have come quickly, before the conflict went nuclear or the Warsaw Pact's economy broke under the strain of protracted war.