Soviet Nuclear Policy under Gorbachev: A Policy of Disarmament

By Daniel Calingaert | Go to book overview

3
NEW THINKING ON NATIONAL SECURITY AIMS

Fundamental revisions in Soviet security aims inspired the USSR to pursue a policy of nuclear disarmament. New political thinking redefines Soviet interests, reassesses the nature of the threat facing the USSR, and alters the means for enhancing Soviet security. Gorbachev and his advisors subordinate Soviet global interests to the exigencies of domestic reconstruction because Soviet power is derived first and foremost from economic vigor. Military might, in their view, constitutes an important but diminished source of Soviet strength. The external threat is subsiding, encouraged by Soviet actions. Since Western enmity was partly of Soviet making, modified Soviet behavior generates willingness in the West to forge cooperative relations. The USSR relies increasingly on constructive diplomacy to promote its interests. Disarmament reduces the military component of Soviet security and alleviates world tensions, thereby facilitating Soviet entry into the global economy and international system and fostering Soviet economic modernization.

Changes in Soviet arms control policy are stifled by resistance to the revised security aims. Gorbachev admitted in early 1989 that "the new political thinking is still only in the process of winning minds."1 Though very few outright opponents retain influence over decision making, a number of leaders, who are on the whole favorably inclined toward new thinking, express reservations about one or another of its aspects. More traditional

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