The Making of America's Soviet Policy

The Making of America's Soviet Policy

The Making of America's Soviet Policy

The Making of America's Soviet Policy

Excerpt

For four decades, the Soviet Union has been the central problem for American foreign policy.It is the one country that could destroy us. At times, we have treated the Soviet relationship as virtually the only problem of foreign policy; at others, we have tried to banish the Soviets to the peripheries of our concern.Managing the relationship has not been easy.

An obvious reason for this is the Soviet Union itself.The marriage of the Russian empire and a universalistic ideology has produced a state that looks to some people like a defensive status quo power and to others like an expansionist revolutionary power.The fact that defensive motives can be combined with aggressive policies further confuses our perceptions, and a repressive and secretive political system frustrates efforts to fathom Soviet intentions.It is small wonder that Americans often have divided views about the nature of the Soviet state, and the issue will not be settled here.

A less frequently studied reason why the relationship has been difficult to manage has to do with the American foreign policy process.This process is notoriously untidy and seems to be particularly so in our dealings with the Soviet Union.This book does not try to deal with the nature of the Soviet challenge or both sides of the history of the relationship. Rather, it focuses on our own institutions and capabilities for dealing with the problem. Assuming that the Soviet Union will remain both an enigma and an inescapable fact, is there anything we can do to manage the relationship better than we have done in the past? In an earlier era, we could evade some of the difficulties inherent in our political institutions by following George Washington's warning against foreign entanglements. But this solution no longer suffices in a world where nuclear missiles can reach within our borders in a matter of minutes.

The chapters that follow will approach the problem of understanding and improving the management of American policy toward the Soviet . . .

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