U.S. Soviet Relations: What's Next?

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Authors
Combs, Richard E.
Issue Date
1984-09-18
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BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE|Dr. Combs holds a Ph.D. from Berkeley, attended the Army's Advanced Russian Studies Institute, has served in the US Embassy in Moscow twice, and has also served in Bulgaria, the United Nations, and as special assistant on Soviet Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of State.
SUMMARY| This is a time of particular danger in US-Soviet relations, risking misunderstanding in nuclear planning and technological change. To get inside USSR mind set, try remembering the West invaded the newly-formed USSR in 1921; more than a decade of nonintercourse followed (US recognition in 1933); business links are rare; NATO formed against USSR (before Warsaw Pact formed); and the tense decade of Cold War; the detente disillusion. USSR remains consistent: believing the West is unjust, outmoded, and will fall. U.S. has trouble instigating change in the relationship because it has a poor understanding (inadequate Russian language), wants simple solutions instead of managing problems, change from one Administration to another often appears as a new foreign policy toward the USSR in USSR eyes. USSR problems: US and West do not accept the political division of Europe as permanent; Soviet leadership about to drop a generation; Politburo concentrates on maintaining the structure Stalin created to manage WWII instead of improving health care and distribution system - Russians have cash but nothing to buy - will collapse; USSR surrounded by unfriendly Communist powers, hence paranoia. Gorbachev seems flexible. US policy should take note: threats will not force Russian bear to cooperate. Current Soviet buildup began in wake of Cuban Missile Crisis and pushed further by US refusal to ratify SALT II.
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