The Soviet Factor
The Soviet Union has followed a basic political-military strategy in dealing with the Western Alliance. This chapter analyzes the nature of this strategy, particularly under Mikhail Gorbachev and assesses its implications for American security policy. It describes Soviet perceptions of the Western Alliance and identifies the major elements of Soviet peacetime strategy toward the Alliance resulting from those perceptions. "Atlanticism" has allowed the United States to exercise considerable influence over political and economic developments within Western Europe. The Soviet leadership has believed that the USSR can influence the West European allies of the US Soviet strategy toward the Alliance in peacetime is designed to test the Alliance framework, to search for soft spots and to encourage trends favorable to Soviet policy. Although overall Soviet objectives toward Western Europe have remained consistent, the Gorbachev leadership has injected Soviet foreign policy with a new dynamism, allowing the implementation of these objectives to be pursued more vigorously than in the immediate past.