Testing Gorbachev

Gorbachev (L) and Reagan begin their mini-summit talks in Reykjavik October 11, 1986.

Plato identified necessity as the mother of invention. General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev’s recognition of the failures of the Soviet economy has inspired an inventiveness in Soviet policy, foreign and domestic, not seen since the death of Lenin. Gorbachev represents a rare combination of pragmatic realism on the one hand, and creative policymaking and public relations on the other. Just as economic determinants are finally imposing constraints that should make the Soviet Union a less formidable military adversary, Gorbachev has already made the Soviet Union a more daunting diplomatic competitor.

Across the East-West agenda, from nuclear and conventional arms control to Afghanistan and Cambodia, Gorbachev has seized the initiative. In the process he is winning too much of the credit for results achieved. Even when all he did was belatedly answer da to long-standing Western proposals on intermediate-range nuclear missiles, his skillful presentation of acquiescence persuaded most Europeans that the

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