The current debate over Soviet defense policy

by Josephine J. Bonan

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The dramatic changes that Mikhail Gorbachev has brought to the content and conduct of Soviet foreign policy in the form of "new political thinking" have profound implications for the West. This paper analyzes Gorbachev's policies on national security issues. It includes a brief overview of new political thinking, including its goals, origins, and the elements it comprises; discusses the emerging role of Soviet civilian defense analysts in the formulation of Soviet defense policy; and considers both the strategic nuclear and theater conventional dimensions of "reasonable sufficiency." It also analyzes in depth the particularly contentious issues that civilian defense analysts and the professional military are currently debating. It concludes with some observations about the implications of new political thinking for the West.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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