Soviet Policy in the Setting of a Changing Power Balance.

by Thomas W. Wolfe

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A consideration of the possible effects of the shift in the American-Soviet strategic balance and the Soviet transformation from a continental military power to a global one in the last five years. Both economic and political considerations give good reason to believe that Soviet leadership would be satisfied with strategic parity with the United States instead of seeking superiority. If so, Soviet interest in arms limitation talks might reflect a genuine willingness to achieve agreement on strategic force levels. On the other hand, Soviet leaders might be reluctant to drop the opportunity to gain political leverage by forging ahead of the United States. If so, Soviet interest in the talks might be to prolong them so as to pursue force improvements while inhibiting the United States from funding any of its own. The more favorable power balance could tempt the USSR to pursue bolder policies and to accept a wider range ingrained Soviet caution toward the risk of war might prevail. At the heart of questions of future Soviet conduct is the direction in which the system is moving. It may prepare leaders either to play a more responsible and stabilizing role in international politics, or to follow the well-trod path of promoting global ferment and discord. 20 pp.

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