The Politburo's Management of Its America Problem

by Harry Gelman

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Draws on the record of Soviet leadership behavior in many areas over the last decade to analyze Soviet assumptions about the relationship with the United States. In most cases the Politburo assumes its interests are incompatible with those of the United States and believes it cannot improve or even defend its geopolitical position unless the American position is further weakened. The Politburo expects lasting struggle with its central antagonist whatever the momentary temperature of the bilateral relationship. It sees itself as defending recent net gains over the United States in the "correlation of forces," which the United States is now trying to undo. Present Soviet policy continues a trend of expanding Soviet influence at U.S. expense since the late 1960s not interrupted by the detente. The Politburo is determined to isolate its external ambitions from the effects of serious Soviet and Soviet Bloc internal difficulties.

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