It is more than common to start virtually any article or book on Mongolia with a reference to Mongolia being the huge, landlocked country between China and Russia. As much as this is commonplace it is unarguably true and contributes a lot to the socio-political pecularities of this country with such a huge area and a rather small population.
When glasnost' came to transform the former Soviet Union, its waves spilled over to Mongolia, too. In the early 1990s, Mongolia underwent what became known internationally as peaceful revolution, and since then, with a new constitution passed in 1992, several democratic elections and a landslide victory of a democratic party coalition in 1996 the very foundations of Mongolia's society and national identity have been exposed to continuous transformation. Mongolia's national economy virtually collapsed after the breakdown of the COMECON, and after several years of negative growth Mongolia is now recovering and developing a privatized national economy. Democratic reform and economical transformation on the interior side force Mongolia's defense system to restructure and to scale down significantly; the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union as a Bloc and China's new international position prompt a wholly new international situation which, though being far from the so-called New World Order of the early 1990s, profoundly determines the basis of Mongolia's international relations and security doctrine.
National security of a country with a small population cannot depend on military power; Mongolia's vital security interests should rather be seen
within a framework of political and diplomatic actions compatible with the patterns of human development and values, equitable relations and confidence among nationsas it is stated in the introduction to the White Paper (p. 6).
The White Paper was introduced at an international press conference (Feb. 23rd, 1998) by the Minister of Defense, D. Dorligjaw. One of the first questions raised by members of the national press was the concern that such a White Paper unprecedented as it is could seriously hamper Mongolia's national security by betraying military and diplomatic secrets. D. Dorligjaw answers this question in his foreword to the White Paper:
With the rapid advance of democratic reforms in Mongolia and the associated profound changes in its political and economic systems and social consciousness, the notions of war and peace, military and army are becoming enriched with new substance and content. All this draws the keen interest of our people which also has become an important justification for the publication of the White Paper. As the country increasingly embraces democracy, the people of Mongolia have received greater freedom to express their views and opinions on all issues related to the activities of the state, including its defense policy. All citizens of Mongolia, military personnel and reservists icluded, are entitled to concrete information on our defense policy and armed forces.
It is our firm conviction that the people of Mongolia and the world community will understand and respect the fact that the defense policy being pursued by us is forthright, with a vision that is compatible with the universal trend of human development, and is of a firm adherence to the principles of mutual trust and confidence. (p. 2)