Gorbachev's Policies Toward Western Europe

A Balance Sheet

by Harry Gelman

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Since coming to power, General Secretary Gorbachev has launched a diplomatic and propaganda offensive against the political foundations of Western Europe's nuclear deterrent and the European connection with the United States. He has, however, given clear indication that he considers his predecessors' campaign of threats and alarmist tactics in Europe to have been mistaken, and he has displayed willingness to make certain incremental retreats from past Soviet negotiating positions. But Soviet goals have not yet substantially changed. There are several factors favoring his purposes, notably his willingness to adapt Soviet negotiating strategy to the reality of defeat on the deployment of intermediate nuclear forces and his readiness to seek new ways of turning this defeat to Soviet advantage. However, there are several trends in Europe that are unfavorable to him. In particular, Gorbachev's internal political relaxation and his peace offensive toward Western Europe may pose dangers for the stability of the Soviet position in Eastern Europe.

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