chapter  1
17 Pages

The Soviets and the West in Historical Perspective: The Emergent European Security Challenge

WithRobbin F. Laird

This chapter examines the basic dynamics of change in Soviet foreign policy toward the West and will assess the implications of those dynamics for Soviet foreign policy. Soviet foreign policy has gone through a number of significant phases of development, and each phase has left its imprint on the evolving debate about the nature of that policy. The foreign policy of collective leadership was to be less ideological and more pragmatic while continuing to view the West as a competitor, these Soviet leaders hoped to let the West participate in its own demise. The dynamic thrust of domestic change associated with the Bolshevik revolution and with Stalinism was waning. The foreign policy necessary for this leadership was that which would protect the Soviet Union from outside influence but promote pragmatic links with the West. The Soviet leadership debated within itself throughout the Gorbachev period about how to handle the future of Eastern Europe.