China’s Immunity Gap
The Zero-COVID Strategy Leaves the Country Vulnerable to an Omicron Tsunami
The barometer of tension has risen and fallen many times during the last 26 years or so of our relationship with the Soviet Union. While some fear the present abatement is no more than a lull or a truce, it seems probable that we are on our way to some new stage. What the nature of this stage may be, however, has not yet become clear in our public discourse, nor have we begun to clarify for ourselves the direction in which we would like to shape events, to the extent that it lies within our power to do so. Despite the distractions of our time, there is an urgency to the task, for decisions have to be made and they should be governed by a perspective that is larger than our immediate national preoccupations.
Let us begin with three questions: How should the present stage of our relations with the Soviet Union be characterized? Are we witnessing a historic shift in the foreign policy of the Soviet Union? What should be our philosophy toward our relations with the Communist world, our objectives, our criteria for weighing alternative policies?
For those who live by words or phrases that sum up the entire situation at a glance, there is no simple substitute for the term "cold war." That term was once defined by the late George Lichtheim as "competitive attempts to alter the balance of power (between the Soviet Union and the United States) without overt resort to force." By this definition, the term still has a certain validity, although it does not convey the elements of collaborative action which have lately become evident; moreover, the term has acquired such emotional baggage, such connotations of absolute and intractable hostility, that it deserves to be retired. The ambiguities of the word "détente," which has come into wide usage, have led to much confusion. In its simplest meaning, "détente" suggests a relaxation of tension, but some have taken this to mean a "rapprochement," while others see it as signifying only a subjective easing in the symptoms of tension without any real change in its causes; they sometimes use the term "true détente" to distinguish a more fundamental moderation in the adversary relationship.
The Soviet preference is for the term "peaceful coexistence," which they have generally defined as a form of struggle between states with different social systems without resort to war, but specifically emphasizing the continuing ideological conflict. In earlier periods, the term suggested a temporary and tactical turn of events, but in recent Soviet usage "peaceful coexistence" has come to imply a long-term political strategy. The acceptance by the United States of the determination that in a nuclear age there is no alternative to "peaceful coexistence"-in the statement of Basic Principles of Relations between the two countries signed at the Moscow Summit in 1972-is regarded by the U.S.S.R. as the fundamental contractual basis for the "normalization" of the relationship. In the context of this statement of Basic Principles, the term implies a mixture of competition, restraint and coöperation-which may be as good a working definition as any.
Leaving aside questions of nomenclature, the important point about the nature of the association is that it has become a multilevel relationship, and the movements on the various planes on which the two nations now interact are not always in the same direction. It is therefore necessary to bring to bear a more differentiated analysis of the relationship, in order to distinguish our interests in its various aspects.
Briefly, we can distinguish the following seven planes in the relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States:
(1) The plane of strategic-military competition. Clearly this deserves to be considered first, for both sides have come to a sober recognition that their most urgent requirement is to avoid a general nuclear war. The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) have begun an important educational process, in which the Soviet Union and the United States are moving toward a more enlightened understanding of their real security interests, of the limited political advantages of their strategic arsenals, of the increased dangers and high costs of an unrestrained strategic-military competition, and of the desirability and complexity of finding an equilibrium at moderate levels. Despite SALT, however, the strategic-military competition is not yet stabilized, for both countries continue to raise the quantitative or qualitative levels of their nuclear arsenals.
(2) The plane of conventional military competition. During the past decade, both countries have greatly increased their capabilities for conventional war, and for reaching distant conflicts with modernized forces. Although each shows signs of moving toward restraint in avoiding direct involvement with the other, this remains a potential source of danger in the coming decade, for there has not yet evolved a codification of the rules of the game for the establishment of bases and the use of conventional forces in areas of strategic importance and political instability. What is more imminently dangerous is the large, competitive and unregulated traffic in arms to the developing countries, which is likely to exacerbate local conflicts and increase the risk of involvement of the great powers.
(3) The plane of political competition. In the present fluid environment, the two great powers are engaged in the competitive politics of maneuver for relative political influence in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The easing of the German problem, which had appeared to be the most intractable and decisive territorial issue between the United States and the Soviet Union until less than five years ago, has been a key factor in opening the way to an improvement in relations generally, and also to a period of flexible maneuvering for influence in Western Europe. The Soviet Union is not a status quo power, except in Eastern Europe, and it is in a historical phase of development in which it is seeking a global presence and influence commensurate with its status as a great power. It is encouraged in this effort by its perception of the United States as having passed the zenith of its influence as a world power. Urgent aspects of the political competition from the Soviet point of view are its effort to limit the developing American relationship with the People's Republic of China and to contain the widening diplomatic activities of China on the world stage, particularly in East and West Europe. But also to be noted on the political plane of the relationship are some elements of coöperation. In the Middle East, which both sides have recognized as an area of imminent danger, the political competition is accompanied by consultation and a substantial degree of restraint to reduce the danger of their direct involvement with each other. There have also been consultations and tacit coöperation in regard to Southeast Asia and Berlin, in which the Soviet Union balanced relations with its allies against larger considerations.
(4) The plane of economic competition and coöperation. The competitive side of economic relations concerns the use of trade and economic assistance as a source of political influence, particularly in areas rich in energy resources. In Europe and Japan, where the United States is involved in trade, monetary and investment problems, the Soviet Union is more than an interested spectator. The coöperative side of the economic relationship is reflected in the massive Soviet effort to expand its imports of grain, technology and consumer goods, and to develop Western markets for Soviet goods to pay for these imports in the future. U.S.-Soviet trade has increased from a little over $200 million in 1971 to $642 million in 1972; for 1973, trade is running at an annual rate of $1.4 billion, of which almost $800 million is in agricultural products. Currently, Soviet imports from the United States exceed its exports by more than five times. Of greater significance is the determined Soviet effort to seek long-term, large-scale Western investment in the development of Soviet natural resources in Siberia and other areas.
(5) The plane of ideological conflict. Although Soviet policy is characterized by increasing pragmatism, the Soviet leadership insists upon the continuation and the intensification of the ideological struggle, at home and abroad, against an enemy identified as "American imperialism." This insistence clearly has its roots in organizational politics within the Soviet system, but it presents operational problems in foreign policy, for the continued reliance of the Soviet Union upon an external ideological adversary, as a device necessary to its system of political control, sets limits in practice on the realization of its policy of "peaceful co-existence." In the United States, once-virulent expressions of anti-Communist ideology have been de-fused by the fact that a conservative American President, formerly of that persuasion, now serves as the instrument of conciliation. The pragmatic American temper is inclined to allow this plane of the relationship to be expressed in terms of the relative performance of the two systems, without benefit of an accompanying verbal barrage.
(6) The plane of cultural relations. In a period in which the technology of transport and communications has advanced rapidly, international life has been inescapably characterized by increasing interpenetration of each other's societies. This presents serious operational difficulties for the Soviet system of political control, at home and in Eastern Europe. Moreover, the widening of human contacts is understood in the West as a necessary ingredient of "peaceful coexistence," as a solvent of hostile stereotypes and a means of moderating residual adversary sentiments. This problem was dramatically illustrated at the Helsinki meeting of the Conference on Security and Coöperation in Europe, where the Western commitment to freedom of information and travel was countered by Soviet efforts to contain cultural exchanges in controllable channels. Nowhere are the asymmetries of the Soviet and Western systems more in evidence than in the inequalities to be observed in the implementation of cultural relations, less in the performing arts than in the exchange of scholars, students and journalists.
(7) The plane of functional coöperation. In the course of two summit meetings, the Soviet Union and the United States have signed more than ten bilateral agreements covering such areas of functional coöperation as environmental protection, medical science and public health, outer space, science and technology, agriculture, oceanography, transportation, commerce and the peaceful uses of atomic energy. Many of these provide for Joint Commissions to implement the agreements. Although these agreements are of limited scope and are in fields of peripheral significance, they perform a symbolic function as a token that the two political leaderships recognize some degree of commonality of interests, and they may be of increasing practical importance as awareness grows of the urgency of environmental problems. Taken together with the agreements related to security, commerce, taxation, maritime affairs and cultural relations, these forms of coöperation constitute the "web of interdependency" which the two countries are consciously weaving.
Several general observations are needed to make this contrapuntal analysis more complete. Although the level of "atmospherics" is properly suspect as fickle and subject to manipulation, it is worth recording that the tone of the relationship has been businesslike, frank in its acknowledgement of differences, but free of the emotional inflammation of those differences which marked earlier periods.
It is also important to remind ourselves that the background against which this relationship has been developing is one of rapid transformation in international politics. Partly as a consequence of the reduction in tension between the Soviet Union and the United States, international politics is marked less by intense polarization than by fluidity and a blurring of alignments. Non-military forms of power, particularly economic and technological, have become increasingly important as sources of political influence. The return of Japan and Western Europe as significant factors in world politics and the emergence of China from her diplomatic isolation have transformed the play of international politics. Against this background, it is clear that the Soviet-American relationship is less the dominant axis of international politics than heretofore, and, further, that the major transforming forces of the world are less subject to the control of the two superpowers than each had taken for granted in an earlier period. The widening gap between the industrialized and the developing nations is among the most ominous of the trends pointing to the possibility of anarchic and violent ruptures in the international system.
Finally, we have become more conscious of how deeply the internal politics of each country is involved in the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. At one level, we watch the fascinating drama of the summits between a General Secretary of the Communist Party and a President who have much in common-both conservative, pragmatic realists, former hard-liners. Behind the President is a distracted society, and a shifting balance in which entrenched pro-military pressures contend with a growing impulse toward anti-militarism and a reduction in America's involvements abroad, while the staunchest champions of "peaceful coexistence" are to be found among the private interests of the business community. Behind the General Secretary is a society of paradoxes: militarily strong but economically weak, tightly controlled but nervously insecure, in which the support for "peaceful coexistence" from the champions of economic modernization is ranged against military interests and the orthodox Party apparatus whose vested interest in an "imperialist enemy" is combined with a fear of the effect of modernization upon the system.
Clearly the future course of events depends only in part upon the chieftains, however committed they may be; it is to the inner politics and the underlying forces operating in the two societies that we must look in order to judge the prospects for continuity of the present stage of their relationship. The American side of this equation is presumably familiar to our readers; in the following section, we turn to an analysis of the Soviet view of the relationship and the factors that influence its behavior.
Are we witnessing a historic shift in Soviet foreign policy? According to Leonid Brezhnev, the answer is an emphatic yes. At Bonn in May, the General Secretary told the people of West Germany that the 24th Soviet Party Congress in 1971 set, and the April 1973 plenum of the Party's Central Committee reaffirmed, the foreign policy goal of implementing a "radical turn toward détente and peace on the European continent." To achieve a better life for the Soviet people, he said, the Soviet leadership had turned resolutely away from isolation and autarky, and was bending its energies toward peaceful construction at home and comprehensive coöperation with the outside world.
Then, on June 22, 1973, in a talk to American businessmen in Washington, Brezhnev went further. Looking back over 42 years of Party and government experience, he said: "we have certainly been prisoners of those old tendencies, those old trends, and to this day we have not been able fully to break those fetters. . . ." The cold war, he said, "put the brake on the development of human relations, of normal human relations between nations, and it slowed down the progress and advance of economic and scientific times. And I ask you gentlemen, as I ask myself, was that a good period? Did it serve the interests of the peoples? And my answer to that is no, no, no and again no." Summing up, he said: "it has been and is my very firm belief that human reason and common sense and the human intellect will always be victorious over obscurantism."
And again in Washington: "I wish especially to emphasize that we are convinced that on the basis of growing, mutual confidence, we can steadily move ahead. We want the further development of our relations to become a maximally stable process, and what is more, an irreversible one."
That this is the ascendant sentiment of the Soviet leadership was underscored by the award, on May Day of this year, of the Lenin Peace Prize to the General Secretary, and an orchestrated wave of praise of Brezhnev in the Soviet press for his "personal contribution" to the Party's "peace program."
In the rest of the world, which has seen other "peace campaigns" come and go, Brezhnev's affirmations have been welcomed with a certain reserve. Do they represent more than a tactical turn toward a low-tension policy to gain economic help and political advances? Will the new policy last?
Undoubtedly, the present course offers tactical advantages to the Soviet Union, but there is reason to believe that something more fundamental may be involved, that the Soviet leadership is responding to "objective factors" in the situation which require a long-term commitment to a policy of low tension abroad and consolidation in the Soviet sphere. It is essential to view the present Soviet policy in the perspective of 20 years of halting, inconsistent, incomplete, resisted efforts to shake off the Stalinist legacy in Soviet foreign policy. In a significant sense, Brezhnev's foreign policy represents the culmination of a process which Khrushchev began but was unable to carry through.
From the Geneva summit of 1955 and the landmark 20th Party Congress of 1956, Khrushchev sought to break away from the Leninist doctrine of the "fatal inevitability of war" and the Stalinist spirit of isolation and unmitigated hostility, and to establish the basis for "businesslike" relations with the West. A combination of factors prevented the consistent realization of his purpose: his own flamboyant and impulsive temperament, the strength of the political opposition, which he inflamed with a series of Party reorganizations, and the fatal effects of a series of misfortunes-the U-2 affair, the failures in agriculture, the Cuban missile episode, and the open conflict with the Chinese Communists. By his injudicious efforts to exploit the first Soviet Sputnik and intercontinental missile as symbols of a "shift in the balance of power," he galvanized the U.S. missile program and further deepened the Soviet strategic inferiority. By his polemical rhetoric about "wars of national liberation," he evoked American preparations for "counterinsurgency" and the apprehensions that contributed to the American involvement in Vietnam. Nevertheless, it was Khrushchev who dared to start the process of de-Stalinization, who faced the implications of the nuclear age, and who foresaw the advantageous possibilities of a long-term political strategy of "peaceful coexistence."
For its first five years, from 1964 to 1969, the Brezhnev-Kosygin group was occupied with the consolidation of a consensual leadership at home; the effects of the Vietnam War and a perceived American propensity for intervention; and the accelerated effort to build strategic forces, a large modern navy and modernized and mobile ground forces. During the 16 months between the first U.S. proposal of SALT and the first Soviet response, a debate raged over the desirability and the possibility of an agreement with the Americans to stabilize the strategic military competition. Then came Czechoslovakia, and another year went by, while new weapons were introduced into the strategic competition.
Three events in 1969 helped open possibilities for a further development in Soviet policy: in the Federal Republic, the election of Willy Brandt as Chancellor, whose Ostpolitik overture offered the possibility for clearing away the obstacle of the German issue; in the United States, Richard Nixon becoming President, with a declaration that the "era of negotiation" was a possible option; and in November, the start of the SALT process. Perhaps it was the working of the dialectic, but the following year found Soviet relations with the United States in a downward spiral as a result of events in the Middle East and the Caribbean, while SALT became bogged down in the issue of whether offensive or defensive weapons were to be limited first.
The decisive turn in Soviet policy and in Soviet-American relations came in the early months of 1971. It was then that Brezhnev took personal charge of relations with the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, and of the Soviet position in the SALT negotiations. A channel of confidential communications was opened between Brezhnev and Nixon, which was to lead to the May 1971 agreement that broke the impasse in SALT. Vietnam was, in its own dialectical way, beginning to wind down. By February, internal debate in the Soviet Union on the policy to be promulgated at the 24th Party Congress in March and on the Ninth Five-Year Plan was brought to an abrupt close by the decisive commitment of Brezhnev's personal prestige to the line of "normalization" of relations with the United States. The move in this direction, which was to culminate in the Moscow summit of May 1972, was reënforced by the change in Chinese policy toward a more flexible diplomacy and the opening of contacts with the United States, which made improved Soviet relations with the United States both possible and necessary.
Among the factors responsible for this sequence of evolution in Soviet policy, the following six appear to have been of major importance:
(1) The condition of the Soviet economy is clearly the primary determinant of present Soviet foreign policy. The current Five-Year Plan, begun in 1971, projected widespread modernization of technology, improvements in productivity, and large increases in consumer goods, but the performance of the Soviet economy has fallen far short of expectations. Poor harvests have created substantial shortages of both food and feed grains, compounding the effects of low agricultural and industrial productivity and a shortage of industrial manpower. Rather than face the politically painful choice of instituting substantial economic reforms, the Soviet leadership has opted for a massive effort to overcome its shortcomings by increasing the flow of trade, advanced technology and capital from abroad. To overcome its shortage of hard currency, the Soviet Union seeks help in developing its manufactures for Western markets, and invites Western capital and technology to help exploit Soviet natural resources, such as its large Siberian reserves of natural gas, to be paid for out of the export of these resources. In his meetings with West German and American businessmen, Brezhnev has projected opportunities for vast joint production ventures over periods of 20 to 30 years. The realization of these expectations manifestly requires an international climate of reduced tension.
(2) The achievement of strategic parity with the United States has made it possible for the Soviet leadership to consider a stabilization of the strategic competition on the basis of the principle of "equal security," which it understands to mean the end of the U.S. policy of negotiating from "positions of strength." The Soviet leadership has expressed its awareness that the stark alternative to this stabilization would be a further upward spiral into increasingly complex and costly weapons systems, and that this would further impede the development of Soviet industrial technology.
(3) Soviet perceptions of the United States encourage it to believe that the President's proffered "era of negotiation" represents a serious and durable option because, according to Soviet analysts, it is a realistic and necessary response to such "objective factors" as the rise of economic and social problems in the United States and the decline of U.S. power and influence in the world. These in turn create opportunities for relative increases in Soviet political influence in a climate of reduced tension.
(4) Soviet perceptions of Europe as an emerging economic power center present both a potential problem and an opportunity. It has responded with a determined effort to encourage Europe to develop in the direction of a neutral "independence" rather than toward a closer Atlantic association with the United States. It anticipates that in a climate of reduced tension, symbolized by the European security conference, Europe will not develop its military capabilities and will diminish its support for NATO. On the economic side, the Soviet Union no longer mounts a rearguard action against West European integration. Having accepted the reality of the European Economic Community, it now bends its efforts to keep open and further develop trading relations between it and COMECON, the East European economic organization. Similarly, Soviet perceptions of the growing economic strength of Japan lead it to anticipate and to encourage a competitive struggle between the "triangle" of Western industrial powers: the United States, Western Europe and Japan. This, too, is more likely to flourish in a climate of "peaceful coexistence."
(5) Soviet apprehensions of China are difficult to weigh as a factor in Soviet foreign policy, but it is clear that this is a matter of visceral intensity to the Russians, and that it has both immediate and long-term dimensions. One aspect of the change in Chinese policy toward a policy of enlarged contacts with the West was that it relieved the Soviet Union of the inhibiting charge by the Chinese of "collusion with imperialism" against the policy of "peaceful coexistence." Moreover, the fear of a Chinese-American alliance, or of American aid to China, has increased the Soviet incentive to accelerate the "normalization" of its relations with the United States. On at least three occasions, beginning in 1970, the Soviet Union has sought to enlist the United States in an agreement to take joint action with the Soviet Union in the event of "provocative action" by a third nuclear power-presumably China-but the proposal was converted at American insistence into Article IV of the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, signed in Washington on June 22, 1973.
This article commits the two countries to enter into urgent consultations in the event of a risk of nuclear war between them, or involving other countries. According to Henry Kissinger, it was felt that this article, and the commitment in Article II of the agreement to refrain from the threat or use of force against each other or against other countries, would instead serve to reduce the danger of war between Russia and China. Meanwhile, Moscow is concerned with Chinese diplomatic efforts in Western Europe warning against the dangers of a détente with the Soviet Union, and even more, with Chinese efforts to stimulate a greater degree of independence on the part of the countries of Eastern Europe. The 4,500-mile border between the Soviet Union and China is a further source of conflict, which four years of negotiations have been unable to resolve, and the Soviets maintain a massive army on this front. It seems plausible that Soviet interest in quiescent relations in the West is strengthened by the necessity of avoiding a two-front engagement in the event of active hostilities with China. In July, Brezhnev's declaration to a North Vietnamese delegation in Moscow of Soviet interest in "the establishment of equal and good-neighborly coöperation among all Asian states without exception" has been regarded as an invitation to China to work toward a modus vivendi, particularly in a post-Mao situation.
(6) The Soviet desire to consolidate its position in Eastern Europe may be dealt with more briefly, but it is by no means a negligible factor impelling the Soviet leadership to a policy of "peaceful coexistence." The persistence of nationalism and the social and political effects of advancing industrialization combine to make this area one of unrest and potential disturbances, and the Soviet problem of control is likely to be made more difficult by the increasing contacts of the West with the states of Eastern Europe. The Soviet Union seeks assurance that there will be no exacerbation of these difficulties from the West, and no interference in the event of trouble. It clearly would like to avoid the embarrassment of another Czechoslovakia, although there can be no doubt that the Soviet leadership is determined to maintain the position to which it feels it is entitled in Eastern Europe as a result of World War II, and which it believes it requires for reasons of security and as a symbol of its historical and ideological advance. Although the climate of détente creates complications for the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, as at home, it is also a necessary condition, the Soviets believe, for Western acceptance of the status quo in what they regard as the Soviet sphere. The progress that has been made toward the Western acceptance of the German Democratic Republic as a separate state is regarded as an encouraging mark of the success of this policy.
These six factors, however, do not tell the whole story, for foreign policy in the Soviet Union, as elsewhere, is not purely an exercise in rational choices, but also involves the interplay of domestic politics. As Brezhnev has indicated, his movement toward the fuller implementation of a policy of "peaceful coexistence" has not been without opposition, and occasional rumbles of dire forebodings may still be observed as reminders that some interests in the Soviet Union are watching for signs that their skepticism is justified.
As might be expected, some of the skepticism is to be found among the professional military services, which, like their opposite numbers in the United States, identify their claims upon the national budget with national security, with mistrust of the SALT process and the assumed deviousness of their adversary. The main source of opposition, however, comes from the orthodox wing of the Party and its large ideological apparatus, and from the even larger apparatus of the political police. For them, "peaceful coexistence" means trouble-a weakening of the ideological élan which is their stock-in-trade, an opening of the country to influences which they can only regard as "subversive," increased trouble with intellectuals and nationality groups, and an erosion of the image of the "imperialist threat" which legitimizes their power and on which their careers depend.
The burden of their argument, as it is illuminated by an occasional tracer shot fired from Red Star, the military newspaper, Kommunist, the Party's theoretical organ, or even Pravda, is that the abandonment of autarky opens the way to a fatal dependence upon the capitalist countries, that the bid for foreign trade and investment is unlikely to be productive, that the operational effects of a détente policy will weaken the Soviet system at home and in Eastern Europe, and that behind the facade of SALT, the American "imperialists" are improving their lead in new weapons technology. Some remain unenthusiastic about the reconciliation with West Germany, against which residual mistrust is still strong, and whose Social-Democratic leadership represents a traditional ideological enemy.
The debate is joined by spokesmen of the "peaceful coexistence" policy from different lines of defense. Some, like Georgy Arbatov, the head of the Institute on the U.S.A., in Kommunist last February, seek to persuade the hard-liners that under present circumstances, "peaceful coexistence" represents the most effective form of struggle against American imperialism. Others, like Dmitry Tomashevsky, of the Institute of World Economics and International Relations, in Red Star this past July, argue forcefully and openly the need for Western capital and technology as the paramount considerations of the moment. An unusually broad perspective was represented in an article in Izvestia last February, entitled, "The Logic of Coexistence," by Vladimir Osipov, an observer on the staff of the newspaper. Osipov wrote of "a whole new series of new factors in the life of the international community of states which now speak for all-around coöperation," and concluded that "the global nature of the interdependence of states makes anachronistic foreign policy concepts of former centuries based on the opposition of some countries to others and the knocking together of military alliances."
The net result of these conflicting domestic pressures has been that Brezhnev has won a free hand to implement his policy of "peaceful coexistence" abroad, while the apparatus of orthodoxy and control has been given a free hand to tighten the lines of ideological vigilance at home, and to prosecute the "ideological struggle" between capitalism and Soviet socialism with renewed vigor. Perhaps this too represents the dialectic at work.
At the plenum of the Central Committee in April of this year, Brezhnev was strengthened by the removal from the Politburo of Pyotr Y. Shelest, an apparent hard-liner, but at the same time the prime spokesmen for military and secret police interests respectively, Marshal Andrei A. Grechko and Yuri V. Andropov, were added.
Although some skeptics in the West believe that Brezhnev speaks publicly of his domestic opposition to encourage Western responsiveness, it seems probable that he does feel the need of some early and tangible signs that the policy with which he has identified himself is successful. Hence, the Soviet impatience for the symbolism of an East-West summit meeting before the end of this year to cap the proceedings of the Conference on Security and Coöperation in Europe, and the urgency of his presentations to West German and American businessmen. The ratification of the Moscow-Bonn Treaty and the commitment of the United States to "peaceful coexistence" in the statement of Basic Principles have been widely hailed in the Soviet press as early evidence of Brezhnev's success.
In the light of Soviet domestic politics and the "objective factors" listed above, what can we conclude about the prospects for continuity in Soviet foreign policy? It is surely conceivable that if Soviet expectations of a substantial expansion of trade and foreign investment are unrealized, if the arms competition mounts, if another Czechoslovakia should occur in Eastern Europe, or if a conflict in the Middle East or elsewhere should threaten a Soviet-American confrontation, there would be pressures upon Brezhnev for a policy change, or even the possibility of his replacement by a coalition of disaffected interests. Even without these events, given the age of the present Soviet leadership, it is always possible that younger men may come to power in the Soviet Union, and by no means is it clear what their propensities would be-at least, it cannot be taken for granted that they would automatically subscribe to the pragmatic inclination because they belong to another generation.
A reasonable conclusion would seem to be that in the absence of extreme irrationality the margins within which the present policy would change would be relatively limited in the event any of the contingencies described above should come to pass. Although it is possible, and may even be probable, that we will go through periods in which the policy of "peaceful coexistence" may be inflected to a somewhat more militant degree, the underlying conditions determining Soviet foreign policy would constrain a return to the more extreme forms of militancy and hostility of the past. It seems apparent that even to the extent such changes may stem from the workings of Soviet domestic politics, the amplitude of their effects would be substantially influenced by our own actions.
This brings us to the question of our philosophy. To the extent that we can be said to have had a philosophy about this in the past, it was a negative one-"containment" or "anticommunism." They were the challengers to the status quo, and we were its defenders. For the most part, we reacted to crises as we saw them coming, sometimes reasonably, sometimes with clouded judgment.
Now we have the possibility of thinking more clearly and less reactively about our relations with the Soviet Union, and about the place of this relationship in the whole of our foreign policy. In a time of turbulent and swift change, the central purpose of our foreign policy is to do what we can to help shape a world environment in which the values we hold to be the essence of our society-when we are true to ourselves-can endure and grow in realization. The main task of our foreign policy therefore is to work closely with those nations which share these values to strengthen the international system, in the sense of a codification of civilized practices among nations, and the further development of its institutionalization in the United Nations. This does not mean defending the status quo, which would in any case be an impossible task. Against the inexorable pressures for change which mark this period in international life, imperialism and hegemonial control over territory cannot provide a lasting stability. The alternative to international violence and anarchy is the development of an international system which can accommodate change without violence, and in which security does not depend upon the control of territory. What follows from this is that the guiding purpose of our policy toward the Soviet Union should be to draw it, over time, into constructive participation in this kind of an international system.
This means working toward some fundamental transformations. It does not mean trying to convert the Soviet Union to capitalism; the difference in social systems need not be a source of conflict, and in any case, both societies are likely to evolve considerably in the coming decades, each in its own way. What it does mean is that we declare quite frankly our interest in encouraging the Soviets to work constructively and responsibly within an international system which is neither their nor our hegemonial domain. That we will continue to be rivals for a considerable time seems dictated by our situations. But that rivalry can be less dangerous to the world and less overcast with hostility if it operates within commonly accepted rules of the game, and in time it may be diminished by a recognition of our growing common needs.
What general principle should guide our policies toward the internal situation in the Soviet Union? As individuals, we find repellent the extent of the police control over the creative life and the human rights of the people of the Soviet Union, and we hope that a period of prolonged low tension on the international plane, despite its immediate regressive effects, will in the long run contribute to an easing of this repugnant aspect of the Soviet system. As individuals and private groups, we can and should express our humanitarian concern over the violation of human rights in the Soviet Union, as we should do in our own country and elsewhere, including countries that are allied to us. The prospect of a modernized Soviet Union, in which the people are well-fed and well-housed and clothed, and in which there is room for the free expression of the human spirit, would be a cause for rejoicing, for they are our fellow men. But as a government, our concerns are properly limited to those aspects of the Soviet system that bear directly upon its foreign policy; for example, the extent of military influence in Soviet politics.
If these represent our long-term purposes, what principles should guide our present responses to the Soviet Union? Granted that the Soviet leadership sees present tactical advantages in moving toward a political strategy of "peaceful coexistence." But if we are correct in believing that this course also reflects a longer-term movement toward a moderated and codified mixture of competition, restraint and coöperation, what follows?
There can be no doubt that we should welcome this development, and do all we can to encourage it and to translate it into concrete measures. In doing so, we should be under no illusions. The relationship has its dangers and its difficulties. The Soviet Union is still committed to fundamentally different objectives than we are; it will take advantage of opportunities that present themselves to increase its influence, and to work toward an expanded hegemonial sphere. Under conditions of a relaxation of tension, we shall be obliged to call upon deeper, steadier and more positive motivations from our people and our allies than we have been accustomed to doing during the simpler years of the cold war. We shall have to clarify our understanding of the kind of military balance that is needed, and the role of other forms of power. We shall have to look freshly and thoughtfully at the profound changes taking place within and among the nations of the world. For all that, we should encourage the present turn of Soviet policy, above all because it offers the possibility of reducing the risk of nuclear war and of bringing some sanity and a sense of proportion to bear upon the management of the weapons of mass destruction we have learned to make. We should welcome it because we can compete effectively on its terms, and because it offers the possibility of long-term transformations in a constructive direction.
To reduce these general principles to specifics, let us return to the multi-level analysis introduced at the outset, and see what criteria should guide us in the decisions we have to make about each of the aspects of our relationship.
(1) On the plane of strategic-military competition, a number of basic issues of strategic doctrine and policy remain unresolved: whether we can accept parity or should try to regain superiority; whether parity means equality or an asymmetrical balance; whether we should place our reliance on mutual deterrence or require the additional forces capable of fighting a nuclear war and capable of striking Soviet military targets. We tend to resolve these issues not by rational discussion and decision, but by the interplay of political and economic pressures and the behind-the-scenes struggles of bureaucratic groups. We clearly need to subordinate this process to an overarching judgment of our real security interests in a nuclear age. The determination of our military requirements on the basis of rational principles, clearly articulated and enforced upon lower-order parochial interests, would orient and mobilize an enlightened public opinion to balance private pressures, and would affect the interplay of pressures in the adversary system. Two criteria for a clearer concept of security which flow from our preceding discussion are: first, that a military equilibrium with the Soviet Union is a necessary condition for international stability, in Europe and centrally; and second, that our optimum security interests would be best served by having that equilibrium as stable and at as moderate a level as can be managed by negotiation. Illustratively, these criteria would suggest that the pursuit of superiority, in the belief that it offers putative political if not military advantages, is an anachronistic mode of thought which leads inescapably to a higher level of competition. Further, if we interpret parity as meaning equality in respect to numbers of each kind of weapons system, both sides will be building up to higher levels. Given the large and still growing weapons arsenals on both sides and the real possibilities for the spread of nuclear weapons to more countries and even to groups of people, we are too complacent about the possibility of nuclear war. We should seek a radical acceleration of the SALT process to reduce overall numbers of weapons on both sides, and to bring under control qualitative developments in multiple warheads and accuracy, which will otherwise create great instability. We should ponder the lesson that short-sighted "bargaining" tactics have had the effect of undermining the essential purpose of SALT. The complexities of working out equitable arms-limitation arrangements require more effective staff support for arms control as an integral aspect of our security policy than we now have in the much-weakened Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and a more effective and better-informed public constituency.
(2) The competition in conventional weapons may represent a more imminent hazard in the next few years. The probabilities of conflict arising out of competing efforts to use armed forces to influence the outcome in unstable areas appear to be increasing. The criteria to bring to bear in this field are: first, that a military equilibrium in the conventional field is needed to perform the negative function of assuring that neither side will intervene with force to encourage or prevent political change; second, that the equilibrium should be as low as negotiation and mutual example can make it; and third, that a codification of rules of engagement in unstable areas is urgently needed. This would suggest that the competition in conventional weapons and their employment should be made a matter for highest-level negotiation, analogous to SALT. This may be no less complex a problem than SALT, as the talks on force reductions in Europe are demonstrating, because it is more directly related to conflicting political objectives. One aspect of the problem that may be amenable to agreement would be the competition in arms sales, which is exacerbating the problems of the Middle East and the subcontinent, and is encouraging the rise of military dictatorships throughout the developing world. The convening of an international conference on the arms trade, as proposed by Senator Mondale, might at least serve to open to public attention the shadowy world of the traffic in conventional weapons.
(3) In respect to the political competition, we need to define the principles to guide our responses to Soviet efforts to expand their influence in the developing world and in Western Europe and Japan, and also to guide our conduct in relation to Eastern Europe and China. As we have seen, the Soviet Union is becoming a global presence and seeks to expand its political influence wherever it can. In the past, we have tended to feel that any expansion of Soviet influence is dangerous and should be resisted. What criteria can guide our present responses to this expansion? We can affirm, first, that a responsible and constructive participation by the Soviet Union in assisting the developing countries with such problems as economic development, population and environment is desirable and should be encouraged-through the United Nations where possible; and second, that in those instances in which Soviet influence becomes so preponderant as to threaten the independence of the country involved, efforts should be made to balance that influence by political and economic means. Two additional considerations tend to make the issue less acute: the demonstrated capacity of the developing countries to resist threats to their independence, and the limitations of Soviet resources, which have had the effect of concentrating Soviet efforts upon a limited number of countries. In Europe, the Soviet Union seeks, through bilateral contacts and the Conference on Security and Coöperation in Europe, to influence the nations of Western Europe toward a more neutralist orientation and to gain acceptance from the West of a Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. The criterion discussed earlier, of the central importance to the United States of a close association with the nations of Western Europe in strengthening the international system in accordance with their shared values, would suggest that active competition against this Soviet effort is required, and similar considerations would apply in relation to Japan. In Eastern Europe, the principles of the right of free access and of noninterference by force in processes of internal change should argue against the acceptance by the West of hegemonial control by the Soviet Union over Eastern Europe, which is in any case an anachronistic and unstable relationship. At present, Soviet sensitivities are delicate on this issue, but over time the Soviets may come to appreciate their own interests in a more resilient relationship which permits the states of Eastern Europe to participate actively in the functional forms of association which are developing across Europe.
A few brief points need to be added about the political competition as it affects our relations with the People's Republic of China. Although it has clearly been desirable to have developed contacts with China and although these contacts have had a useful effect upon our relations with the Soviet Union, it should not be part of our objective to exacerbate the Sino-Soviet conflict, and we should exercise care to see that our actions cannot be interpreted as having that intent. Our objective should be to encourage both countries to move in the direction of moderation and coöperation; in particular, we look forward to the time when China will feel sufficiently secure to participate in international arms-limitation arrangements.
(4) The economic aspect of the Soviet-American relationship involves some of the most interesting and difficult decisions of all. We have seen that the hope of the Soviet leadership for increased trade and investment from the West, and particularly from the United States, is a major factor in its present policy. Of course, much of the response of American firms is based upon their private interests and is governed by coördinated government policy only to the extent that it depends upon large-scale credits, government guarantees, or legislative action on the Most Favored Nation provision. Even to this extent it is a useful exercise to weigh the considerations involved from a national point of view. If purely economic considerations are weighed, it is apparent that the advantages are heavily in favor of the Soviet Union, although the prospect of selling in Soviet markets has a strong appeal for particular sectors of the business community, and Soviet sources could help to fill America's future energy needs. Among the non-economic arguments in favor of a positive response, it is said that the growth of economic interdependence will encourage restraint in Soviet behavior, contribute to a relationship of confidence, and may lead to long-term transformations in the Soviet system. On the other side, the fear is expressed that U. S. trade and investment may help to strengthen the Soviet Union for later economic or military challenges to the United States, that large-scale credits will give the Soviet Union leverage as a debtor state, and that this influx of trade and technology helps to postpone needed economic reforms in the Soviet system.
What criteria should the United States apply in deciding at what level, with what types of trade and investment, and in what time scale it should respond? On balance, it would seem that a positive response would be useful, mainly for noneconomic reasons. If we judge the present Soviet course a desirable one from our point of view, it is obviously necessary to sustain the economic motivation at some level. A modest affirmative response, largely in grain, consumer goods and machinery, with the prospect of a gradually upward-sloping increase over the years, involving an increasing mix of long-term investments in jointly financed resource-development projects, would represent a conservative course, and would hold out a continuing incentive to the Soviet leadership to conduct itself with restraint. If we were to withhold trade and investment in the expectation that it would oblige the Soviet Union to institute fundamental economic reforms, this would be a risky course, and the consequences would be unpredictable, whereas the influx of American technology and businessmen is more likely over a period of time to encourage internal pressures for modernized administration, some decentralization in planning, and a greater reliance upon market mechanisms.
Questions have been raised whether the increase of trade and investment should be made subject to more explicit conditions. For example, the Senate has passed an amendment proposed by Senator Humphrey requesting the President to seek an agreement with the Soviet Union for the mutual reduction of armaments and military expenditures in conjunction with the granting of credits and guarantees by the United States government. Whether such an agreement proves feasible or not, the amendment serves to register the point that future levels of military expenditure in the Soviet Union will be taken into account as part of the context in which future credits will be discussed. Senator Jackson's amendment, tying the Most Favored Nation clause to the question of unrestricted emigration, with particular reference to the emigration of Soviet Jews, has resulted in an unprecedented effort on the part of the Soviet Union to satisfy the Congress on a matter regarded in Moscow as a sensitive internal affair. As a general principle, the effective combination of private and group pressure with a formal government position of noninterference in Soviet internal affairs might have long-run advantages over an explicit and frontal government-sponsored challenge.
(5) The ideological aspect of the relationship could be conducted anywhere on the decibel scale from a quiet competition of ideas to a noisy brouhaha between ideologues. There is a fundamental contradiction in the Soviet position that "peaceful coexistence between states with different social systems is possible," but that it is consistent with, and even intensifies, the "ideological struggle." Although the Soviet press has recently been unaccustomedly moderate in its tone of reporting on life in America, it continues to use "imperialism" as a synonym for U.S. policy and regularly calls for a "systematic struggle against reactionary ideology and propaganda." It is evident that this campaign represents an organizational concession to domestic cold warriors, but the effect is of more than domestic consequence. From the point of view of the United States, a campaign of "ideological struggle" against the "imperialist enemy" perpetuates attitudes of implacable hostility and sets narrow limits on the relaxation of tension, and there is a strange inconsistency between this Soviet stance and its attacks on foreign radio broadcasts as contravening the spirit of "peaceful coexistence."
(6) The cultural-relations aspect of Soviet-American relations presents a number of dilemmas. In principle, the two sides are agreed that cultural relations should be expanded. In the Basic Principles of Relations, the President and the General Secretary reaffirmed "their intention to deepen cultural ties with one another and to encourage fuller familiarization with each other's cultural values." Another agreement on the subject was signed in Washington this June. In his television speech to the American people, Secretary Brezhnev said: "To live at peace, we must trust each other, and to trust each other, we must know each other better. We, for our part, want Americans to visualize our way of life and our way of thinking as completely and correctly as possible." The sentiments are unexceptionable, but the implementation presents difficulties. The American side, in meshing itself with Soviet institutions and practices, becomes centralized, involved in government channels, quotas, tit-for-tat games of reciprocity over various restrictions and other degrading exercises, which demonstrate the truth of the French saying: "each one takes on the visage of his adversary." In the Soviet system, cultural relations are regarded as a highly sensitive matter, subject to an elaborate and pervasive control apparatus which limits exchanges to officially selected delegations and representatives in approved fields. In all Soviet institutions, the "Foreign Departments" that have the responsibility for monitoring and approving all contacts with foreigners have their own standards for judging the utility of cultural relations. Undoubtedly there is some mutual benefit even in the constricted and asymmetrical exchanges now possible, but it is much less useful than it could be if it conformed to the standard expressed by Secretary Brezhnev. Our guiding criterion is to be found in the belief that unrestricted human contacts are integral to the "normalization" of relations between nations, and while adapting to the unhappy limitations of the present, we should not lose sight of the aspiration to bring cultural relations with the Soviet Union into conformity with prevailing standards elsewhere.
(7) There is a potential future importance in the bilateral agreements on functional coöperation in various fields, and the various Joint Commissions provided for under these agreements, which may be greater than is now appreciated. Even today, American-Soviet relations are at their best when they bring together specialists with common professional interests, and the reports of close and successful collaboration in, for example, oceanography and environmental problems are most encouraging. In the longer run, it seems likely that increasing awareness of the urgency of problems relating to pollution, the environment and resources needed to sustain life on the planet will affect ways of thinking about national sovereignty, and that collaboration in these fields will have a broadening effect on the context in which security problems will be faced. When the time comes that this aspect of the Soviet-American relationship becomes central rather than peripheral, the essential character of that relationship cannot but change in its fundamental perspectives.
Whether it will take years or decades for the sense of living on the same small planet to loom larger in the consciousness of men than the rivalry of nations, no one of course can say. Change sometimes moves like a glacier, sometimes like an avalanche. We have negotiated the passage from the simplified enmities of the past to that patchwork-quilt mixture of striving with and against each other which has no simple designation. To move now from the ambiguities of coexistence to a more constructive and less dangerous stage will take patience and faith in our sense of direction in the world, while we sustain an effectively functioning society at home.