Cover: Soviet Foreign Policy Under Gorbachev

Soviet Foreign Policy Under Gorbachev

Published 1986

by Arnold L. Horelick


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This paper, reprinted from National Security Issues of the USSR (M. Feshbach, ed., Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 1987), considers Soviet foreign policy under Gorbachev. Gorbachev's first priority in foreign policy is to consolidate weak or threatened positions. He will be selective about making new commitments and sensitive to the economic and political costs of making bad choices. He has initiated the most thorough and far-reaching reorganization of the Soviet foreign policymaking structure since World War II, and has blurred the division of labor between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Communist Party's International Department. This restructuring indicates a downgrading in the priority of the Third World in Soviet foreign policy. The United States remains at the center of Gorbachev's foreign policy, and arms control at the center of his American policy. Failure by the United States and by the Western alliance to agree on a common strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union in the Gorbachev era could mean losing the opportunity either to pressure the Soviet Union effectively or to deal with it profitably.

This report is part of the RAND occasional paper (Soviet) series. The occasional paper series was a product of RAND from 1985 to 1992. It included the occasional paper education (OPE) and occasional paper Soviet (OPS), which was issued jointly by the RAND/UCLA Center for Soviet Studies (CSS) to facilitate the exchange of ideas among those who shared the research interests of the Center and of scholars participating in its research and seminar programs.

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