Black Box: KAL 007 and the Superpowers

In This Review

Black Box: KAL 007 and the Superpowers

By Alexander Dallin
University of California Press, 1985
130 pp. $14.95
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This is a superb analysis of the 007 incident, a model of careful study of available information, properly placed in a broad international political context. It is evidence of the gifts a seasoned scholar can bring-and amazingly quickly-to dealing with contemporary events, in contrast to the usual, more journalistic, approach. Dallin's reconstruction of the event is fascinating. He narrows the range of possibilities, but finds no smoking gun, and no hypothesis is fully convincing to him as to why KAL 007 strayed so far off course. He is on firmer ground in drawing conclusions about superpower behavior in an international crisis. Both Moscow and Washington gave priority to their domestic audiences, the Soviets trying to persuade their population and allies of the wisdom of their action, the Americans scoring points and using the crisis for political gain. Neither was very sensitive to the other's perceptions and political needs. And both allowed the incident to further erode an already deteriorated superpower relationship, just at a time when it was beginning to improve.