The New Economic Togetherness

American And Soviet Reactions

by Nathan Constantin Leites

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Describes and comments on changes in U.S. attitudes toward the Soviet Union in the early 1970s. A few years ago, the dominant belief was that trade with the Soviets was not just trade, but a bad thing; now the prevailing supposition is that such trade is not just trade, it's a good thing. By selecting and juxtaposing statements from public figures (with some ironic footnotes), the author illuminates the process of rising hopes and expansiveness on our part, contrasting "Our Hopes" with "Their Calculations." The higher the level of East/West exchanges and contact, the lower the chance of conflict, it is believed, and the greater the likelihood of influencing Soviet policy and practice. The Politburo has indeed changed its style from rudeness and blatant threats, and has transmuted the Soviet image from one of menacing loners to one of omnipresent and reasonably well-behaved joiners. Americans tend to underestimate the degree to which the new Soviet conduct reflects learning how to handle us, rather than a basic change in objectives.

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