Restructuring the Soviet-Ethiopian relationship : a case study in asymmetric exchange
This thesis aims to explore the dynamics of exchange operating in special relationships initially formed and largely sustained on an amicable basis between two states of vastly unequal power. The claim is made that the weak state is likely to be adversely affected in the longer term by the persistence of negative patterns of asymmetric exchange, despite the accrual of considerable benefits. To test the validity of this proposition, selected theoretical perspectives on exploitation and manipulation are examined and applied to the analyses of political, military, economic and development issues arising in respect of the Soviet-Ethiopian relationship in the Brezhnev and Gorbachev periods. The findings indicate that the dynamics of asymmetric exchange are much more complex than originally envisaged. The Soviet-Ethiopian relationship involved far more than the changing interests of officials whose interests and priorities were sometimes compatible and sometimes conflicting. A special relationship developed between ruling elites in these two sovereign states in the Brezhnev era, largely as a consequence of Cold War competition and ideological bonding. Although evidence indicates that Mengistu's administration had a lot to do with the relationship's progression, the negative patterns of asymmetric exchange that subsequently developed adversely affected Ethiopia more than they did the Soviet Union. These patterns persisted after Gorbachev assumed power, and the adverse impact lingered on after both sovereign states had fragmented. The complex dynamics and adverse impacts of asymmetric exchange are not unique to the Soviet Union and its relationship with non-capitalist states like Ethiopia. In this thesis, Cold War conditions may have largely determined the process of pattern formation, but the findings indicate that similar patterns have been demonstrated in relationships between powerful and weak states in the past and they continue to appear in the present.