This Note examines the beginnings of Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost (openness) policy and its impact on Soviet foreign policy. It traces the gradual widening of Soviet public discussion of foreign and security policy issues and identifies the external and domestic factors driving this development. It covers the period from 1985 through October 1988, but it also makes reference to more recent events. Starting as exposure of corrupt officials, glasnost soon was expanded and used to undermine the conservative opposition to perestroika (restructuring) and the new political thinking. Positive Western reaction to glasnost, welcoming it as proof of Gorbachev's peaceful intentions, stimulated its further expansion. Glasnost undid the Soviet "enemy image" and thus cleared the way for cooperation with the West while the regime sought a way out of the crisis facing the country. Because of the internal power struggle, glasnost has survived attempts to reverse it. As contending elements state their differing views, information regarding Soviet foreign policy and its formulation increases.
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