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Prescription for Detente

ISSUE:  Winter 1978

Regardless of temporary strains at the governmental level, detente in the broader, multi-level sense is now the norm in relations between the Soviet Union and the West. It is even more pervasive in relations between Eastern Europe and the West, as trade and travel between the two regions expand. SALT talks may be disputatious, icy disagreements over human rights may arise, but at the social and economic levels the climate of relaxation inexorably spreads, fostered by the same governments that take such assertive and even truculent stands at the political level. In short, for the first time since 1939, the world seems to be entering another one of those periods in history of surface equilibrium, masking ideological conflict and shifting power relationships.

Detente presents special problems for the West. Beset with the usual political and economic divisions that afflict coalititions in peacetime, its posture is essentially defensive. NATO military doctrine is predicated on the strategic assumption that nuclear war will destroy civilization—which, of course, it would, in the sense that we define it. Soviet military doctrine on the other hand assumes that even after a nuclear holocaust some residual forces will remain intact, and victory will go to the side still capable of enforcing its will. Not having any unifying concept of history, and with a set of values that gives priority to the individual rather than to the state, the West takes its stand on individual liberty, cultural diversity, and material progress based on a combination of free enterprise with social welfare, Soviet political doctrine continues to be aggressively Marxist and predicated on the ultimate collapse of bourgeois society as a result of its internal contradictions.

Nevertheless, the actual advantage enjoyed by the Soviets is by no means so evident. Eastern Europe is restive under Soviet military hegemony and equally bedevilled with divisions and discontents. The Communist parties of Western Europe no longer respond blindly to the dictates of Moscow. As Soviet living standards improve and its economy becomes more complex, the aspirations of its own people for greater individual liberty and more contact with the West is bound to increase, thereby loosening the grip of the Soviet state over its diverse and expanding population. Although the Warsaw Pact forces have a unified command and enjoy tactical superiority to NATO forces on the ground, the Soviet industrial and military base remains as vulnerable as ever to an American nuclear strike. The Soviet leadership is elderly and sclerotic, slow to change, and bureaucratic in mentality. They have just as big a stake as the West in the preservation of their painfully constructed system from the horrors of nuclear war—especially because of their morbid fear that only China would be the victor.

In its external relationships with the Third World, the Soviet Union has consistently thrown away its initial advantage of surface identification with revolution and anti-colonialism. Even the generosity of its aid programs has not offset the heavyhanded importunities of its foreign policy and the gaucheness and unadapatability of its overseas personnel. The Soviet leadership cannot help but be aware that once anti-colonial resentments have died away, the high living standards and technological superiority of the West, not to mention other cultural affinities, will reassert themselves as an attraction to the new nations of Africa and Asia, just as European civilization has always been a magnet for Latin America.

From the Soviet point of view, therefore, a period of detente presents both an opportunity and a risk. An opportunity in the sense that normalization of relations will further weaken the ties of the opposing coalition while providing wider latitude to subvert the political and economic strength of the weaker members of the alliance. A challenge in that normalization will inevitably lead to the further prosperity of Eastern Europe and its consequent independence from Soviet domination while Soviet society itself becomes increasingly penetrated by Western cultural values.

Detente therefore signifies another opportunity to carry class warfare to the international arena for the purpose of expanding Soviet influence and keeping the West off balance. Indeed, this is the only alternative available for keeping up the momentum of the class struggle during periods of peaceful coexistence in order to attain the ultimate strategic goal of changing the global power balance in favor of the Soviet Union. As a tactic, it has the advantage of inhibiting violent Western reactions, and, if possible, lulling the West into a state of torpor while exportation of the class struggle continues. Where the West sees reduction in international tension as an end in itself, the Soviets see it as a means to their particular end—a means temporarily more productive than the crises and tensions of the Cold War since it exploits the Western longing for peace. At the same time, of course, it serves another Soviet purpose by providing new opportunities to enlist Western technology in reconstructing an industrialized Soviet society according to the tenets of Leninist-Marxism.

Soviet foreign policy is therefore essentially pragmatic, opportunistic, and expansionist during periods of relaxed tension. It becomes defensive when threatened at home or in some cherished sphere of influence. It appears to be guided by four convergent principles; One, Leninist-Marxism, is ideological. The second, Russian imperialism, is simply traditional power politics, The third, the inner dynamics of the Soviet system and military bureaucracy, is a compound of fear, pride, rigidity, and inertia. The fourth, insecurity and feelings of contempt and inferiority toward the West, is inherent in Russian historical tradition. These factors have normally been operative during all periods of Soviet history, but manifest themselves somewhat differently during periods of detente. They require elaboration.


In its pure form, Marxism is a politico-economic philosophy whose prime tenet is that Western bourgeois capitalism will ultimately destroy itself and thereby allow socialism to emerge triumphant. To quote Gromyko in an address last year to a group of Conservative M. P.’s: “The objective law of the development of human society will lead to one system being replaced by another. This has been proved in history. . . .”

Soviet foreign policy, however, is inspired by the Leninist gloss on Marxism. For Lenin, the inexorable processes of history burned at far too low a flame to feed the fires of revolution. They had to be fueled by every artificial means possible, including, if necessary, alliances and accommodations with any state whose assistance, rendered wittingly or not, would advance the cause of the revolution.”Be ready for any change and use any form of struggle, both peaceful and non-peaceful, legal and illegal,” said Lenin. Hence, so long as Russian grain shortages persist, or the technological gap with the West continues, there is no ideological obstacle placed in the way of seeking help from the West so long as it is on a purely pragmatic and temporary basis and unaccompanied by feelings of gratitude. Far from signalling an erosion of Marxist ideology, short-term coexistence is perfectly reconcilable with long-term revolutionary goals—and in both respects the Russian takes an Oriental view of time.

The factor of so-called Russian imperialism also requires elaboration since it has often been unduly magnified in Western thinking. Under the Czars, there was slow and inexorable territorial expansion, to the west, to the south and east into Siberia. But this process can hardly be described as dynamic or even particularly aggressive by the standards of the time. The first tide of expansion was really liberation from the Tartar domination, which until it actually spilled over into the Caucasus and Turkestan was a consolidation of empty and disputed steppeland. The expansion into Poland and the Baltic area was in the beginning a response to persistent incursions by the feudal kingdoms and military orders of Prussia, Poland, and Sweden. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Russia formed part of the concert of Europe, and its monarchs, while despotic at home, conformed to the international norms of conduct abroad. It was a participant, not a unilateral aggressor, in the partitions of Poland, and when, from time to time, its armies penetrated deep into Europe—Switzerland in 1799, France in 1815, and Hungary in 1848—it did so for brief periods only and in collaboration with other monarchies. Even in recent history, naked aggression for the sake of expansion alone has been a rarity. The invasion of Finland in 1940 was for a limited strategic purpose, and those of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 were to preserve the status quo, albeit repressive and Communist. Considering the predatory character of her neighbors, and the innumerable and bloody invasions to which she has been subjected, the imperialist character of Russian foreign policy, especially under the Czars, has been consistently exaggerated.

On the other hand, the expansionist tendencies of the Soviet military and political leadership has probably been underestimated. The whole Soviet political and social system rests on force. In addition, it rests on self-confidence and a sense of inordinate pride in the technological and industrial achievements of the last 50 years. The older members of Soviet leadership are the survivors of a murderous tyranny which wiped out large portions of the senior officer corps and party hierarchy in the purges of the thirties. The younger members are the architects of postwar reconstruction and breakthroughs in nuclear technology and space. The vast bureaucracies that manage every part of the Soviet political, economic, and social system constitute enormous vested interests. In terms of public spending, national employment, industrial development, and allocation of resources, the military sector of this bureaucracy is a major force whose tacit consent and approval is essential to the viability of the party leadership. The military bureaucracy is not simply an executant in Soviet military and foreign policy. It is one of the major authors of that policy, and by its very nature, ultra-security conscious, ultra-prestige conscious, favoring a hard line in negotiations, and the kind of crude and visible political tactics that humiliate and discredit an adversary as well as defeat him. Every success which Soviet policy owes to the repressive and heavy-handed approach—Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Angola—strengthens the hand of this element in Soviet political life by vindicating its policies.

Finally, the conspiratorial origins of the regime and its history of purges and executions, its genuine though unreasonable fear of aggression, its shaky sense of legitimacy in terms of a freely-demonstrated popular mandate, and its traditional sense of alienation from the West combine to color virtually all relations with the outside world with suspicion and distrust. Additional points of anxiety for the Soviet Union are the growing independence of European Communist parties, unsatisfactory and potentially explosive relationships with its restive satellites, and the ever present menace of China both strategically and as an ideological rival for Third World leadership.


In combination, these factors inject both an element of insecurity into the Soviet strategic outlook and an impetus to exploit Western disarray so as to continue the struggle and consolidate gains. Detente establishes a new set of ground rules for continuing the process in a more relaxed atmosphere. From the Soviet standpoint, the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation was a key milepost along the new route. By legitimizing the Soviet position in Eastern Europe, the Helsinki Agreement stabilizes the European flank of the Soviet Union at a time of crisis with China and further diminishes the sense of urgency and vigilance among the NATO allies. It provides a longer breathing space in which to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons and a stronger Navy. It removes another psychological obstacle to the flow of Western economic and technological aid from west to east, which is so essential to keeping up the momentum of Soviet industrial expansion. It offers new opportunities to rectify past mistakes and re-establish links with disaffected clients in the Third World.

The fact that the basic aims and objectives of Soviet foreign policy—and of course its Marxist-Leninist framework—remain relatively unchanged can be readily demonstrated. Even before compliance became complicated by the Carter administration’s public pronouncements of support for Soviet dissidents, the Soviet Union made little effort to fulfill the human rights pledges of the Helsinki Agreement. Soviet negotiating positions with regard to disarmament and strategic arms limitation remain virtually unchanged, although Brezhnev’s November 2 statement favoring a permanent nuclear test ban is certainly an important concession. Expansion of the Soviet navy and acquisition of new bases and refuelling stations continue silently but inexorably. Soviet support for African “liberation” movements has, if anything, expanded, as its intervention in Angola and recent support for the murderous Mengistu regime in Ethiopia demonstrates. Undercover assistance continues to be given to almost any force or body of activists, however violent, so long as they are a threat or irritant to the United States or its allies and make political capital for the Soviet Union in the Third World. A program of state visits is the first step of a new political and economic design to further divide Europe from the United States.

Does this mean that gradual relaxation of tension is perilous and that the world must once again return to the polarized political divisions, ideological intransigence, sterile under-cover warfare, and constant talk of nuclear extinction that characterized the Cold War? Should the free world keep its populace screwed up to a nerve-racking state of tension merely because the Soviet Union retains its apocalyptic view of historical development and perserveres in its secret aims? Is the stale nostrum of “containment,” with its pattern of Pavlovian responses to every real or fancied threat of Soviet aggression, the only remedy?

To answer this, one must first take a longer view of the present situation. Far from being a condition to be feared, peace and tranquility ought to be the norm, and external relations between states ought to be governed by civilized standards of conduct which, if not always attained, at least represent a model to be followed. Furthermore, the notion that peace between rivals is impossible so long as one country or group of countries aggressively pursues ideological or political aims which are antipathetic to the philosophy or concept of world order of another group is not only absurd but belied by history. For centuries Christianity and Islam lived in uneasy truce. In the 17th and 18th centuries, surface relationships of civility and even amity were maintained between the old monarchies while ruthless religious and dynastic maneuvering continued in the intervals between wars. Throughout the early 18th century, the political history of England was marked by subversive plot and counter-plot, with a Stuart court-in-exile at St. Germain and constant traffic of French-supported agents between Britain and France. The infant North American republic supported Latin American revolutions against Spain. Indeed, undercover maneuvering masked by conventional surface relationships has been the rule since the emergence of the sovereign state. It is true that the United States professes to adhere to a more civilized standard of conduct than other nations. Not so long ago, however, it actively supported Texan and Californian liberation movements and harbored Fenian subversives plotting an attack on Canada. More recently we carried on a campaign of sabotage against Cuba and “destablization” programs against Marxist political regimes whether freely elected or not. Deplorable though these activities may be, they are still compatible with conventional diplomatic relations and are always preferable to war, especially in an age when escalation invites nuclear incineration.

A second source of confidence, if not optimism, is that Soviet intentions, however malign or sinister, are not always capable of execution, nor is Soviet foreign policy particularly successful. The principal Soviet gains of the postwar period were in territories devastated or traumatized by the Nazi occupation and contiguous to the Soviet Union, where the Soviet military presence was decisive. The Soviet link with Cuba is largely a gift from the United States. Soviet diplomatic triumphs in the Middle East have been ephemeral and the expulsion of Soviet technicians from Egypt a humiliation. Millions were poured into Indonesia to no avail, and aid expenditures in India have produced only limited political dividends. At the moment, the Soviet Union has a large stake in Africa both directly and by proxy through Cuban military missions. It is certainly reaping political credit as a result of its surreptitious aid to black nationalist guerilla movements in Rhodesia and South Africa. But the leaders of the new African nations were also raised in the Marxist tradition of tactical expediency and have just as little gratitude to a benefactor as Lenin had to the high command of Imperial Germany, which provided him with the sealed train.


Considering its superpower status and technological achievements, the Soviet Union carries less weight on the international scene than it is entitled to. The Soviet leadership is as divided as that of the West over the effects of detente and the best way to capitalize on it. The Politburo may include men of outstanding executive and managerial talent, and no one would question the proficiency of Soviet engineers and scientists, but in their approach to the outside world Soviet officials are comparatively awkward, rigid, and bureaucratic. In contrast to the smooth and adaptable Chinese, or the dangerously effective diplomats of Nazi Germany who hob-nobbed easily with ruling elites, the average Soviet diplomat has the appearance, manners, and habits of a clerk. This is hardly surprising since the entire professional class of the Soviet Union grew up in the most cramped and impoverished environment, suffered immense privations during the war, and has been overcontrolled and intimidated by superiors at every stage of its career. For all their formidable education, Soviet professionals remain psychologically insulated from the free and easy life-styles of other societies. Moreover, the system itself is so bureaucratic and fear-ridden that it often is unresponsive to the most pressing necessities of its clients— witness the complaints of Sadat that, in contrast to 48-hour responses one way or the other from Washington, he often had to wait six months for a reply from Moscow to an urgent technical aid request and sometimes never received an answer at all.

The history of Soviet relations with client states has sooner or later been one of alienation. Egypt is the classic example, and Somalia the most recent illustration. Through over-insistence on foreign policy conformity, intrusive meddling in local politics, support of factions inimical to the local regime, unresponsiveness to local needs and aspirations, or all four combined, the Soviet Union has displayed a unique faculty for souring relationships. Except where naked military force can be deployed there is not a single area of Soviet influence that does not depend on the most tenuous links of transient self-interest.

If these assumptions are valid, detente need not cause the anxiety that it seems to in the free world and especially in Europe. For the West, detente also provides an opportunity and a challenge. But it would be a mistake to suppose that in adapting to these new conditions the containment policy of the past provides a talisman for the future. On the contrary, it will almost certainly work to our disadvantage.

Today Western political and economic vulnerability imposes strict limitations on our capacity to match Soviet maneuvers move for move on the international chessboard. Inflation, balance of payment deficits, disillusionment with foreign adventures, and greater diversity of national foreign policy goals make a mockery of the Kissinger conception of a grand design for world order to be achieved by an activist foreign policy. The old pattern of intervention and meddling is both discredited and outdated, and any attempt to perpetuate it will be fatal—for the Soviet Union as well as the United States.

It must by now be obvious that each intrusion of big power rivalries into regional disturbances has unpredictable consequences. Every intervention creates counterforces and entanglements that can suck the intruder beyond his depth. Unless there is some compelling strategic reason to counter the threat, as in Western Europe and a few—a very few— other areas, the United States would be well advised to allow the Soviet Union to get bogged down in the internal power struggles of the Third World without help from us. And if Cuba chooses to squander its manpower and Soviet resources on military aid to revolutionary regimes in Africa, under the delusion that it will make some kind of lasting impact on that politically volatile continent, the experiment should be viewed with cynical detachment—perhaps even turned to profitable account when we reestablish relations. A certain amount of turmoil in the Third World is in any case inevitable, given the total inexperience of most of these countries with civilized institutions and self-government. The resources of the United States are too limited, and its dependence on foreign oil too hazardous, to justify risky entanglements for transitory gains. Henceforth it will be necessary for the United States to choose carefully its points of response to each real or fancied Communist threat, and these decisions must be made in the light of Western strategic priorities and a realistic sense of the limitations of both superpowers to impose a grand design on the rest of the world.

Once these priorities are established, however, the need for a positive and effective policy to counter Soviet expansion will remain as pressing as ever. That the West will have to keep up its guard in both nuclear and conventional armaments goes without saying. Its dangerous “all or nothing” military doctrine, paralyzing an effective local response in minor crises, will have to be modified. But the primary instrumentalities of its policy will have to be social, economic, and political.

The decisive arena for the superpowers during detente will be Europe. It is from Western Europe that the greatest influence can be exercised on Africa and Southern Asia, not from the United States. The West can really compete effectively for the allegiance of the Third World only in the way of life and cultural values. Technological virtuosity and industrial productivity are not enough; on this score the Soviet Union and East Germany will soon offer almost as good models as the West, considering the limited technological potential of most developing countries. Military assistance is a two-edged sword; the standard pattern for the military elites of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, many of them philosophically Marxists, is to accept training and arms from the United States and Europe, and then turn against the benefactor. But the dull, proletarian uniformity of the Soviet Union offers little attraction to most Third World societies in the way of life-style, and the more hierarchical European outlook suits Third World tribal and social structures better than American egalitarianism. Moreover, such modern legal codes and institutions as most Third World countries possess are generally European in origin.

Western Europe is also the key to Eastern Europe. For 300 years the kingdoms and principalities of Eastern Europe modeled their culture and institutions on those of Western Europe. Even today when science, technology, and industrial organization offer alternatives from the United States and the Soviet Union at one level, the old cultural affinities lie dormant at another. Sooner or later, the pendulum in these countries is going to swing back from communism, but after the initial liberating euphoria it will certainly be arrested in the rut of another form of totalitarian dictatorship unless guided into a track that unites both free institutions and economic security. It would be a great mistake to suppose that essentially proletarian and peasant populations, still traumatized by war and economic upheaval, with no tradition of democracy, would ever trade the safety of a managed society for freedom alone. Western Europe can guide Eastern Europe to freedom only if it is prosperous as well as free.

The besetting fallacy of U. S. policy toward Eastern Europe is to suppose that American-style democracy, the product of a thousand years of evolution, is suitable for peoples of mixed feudal and Marxist traditions. For the United States to continue to peddle self-determination and egalitarian democracy is to play into the hands of the Soviet Union. It was self-determination in its most destructive form that opened the gates of nationality not only to recognized historical entities like Poland but to semiprimitive peasant societies with no political traditions and a blank page in history, thereby paving the way for Hitler, World War II, and the division of East and West.

If Europe is to become a true counterweight to the Soviet Union, it can only do so by unifying, and the best route to ultimate unity is federation. That earlier experiment in multi-national federation, the grossly defamed Austro-Hungarian monarchy, provided its eleven different nationalities with a degree of security, prosperity, and individual liberty which they have never known since. Vienna was formerly a seat of culture second only to Paris, and until 1918 European civilization was a single, unified whole. But federation will not succeed unless Europe goes back to its historical origins and is rebuilt on its old foundations, In this process, the United States can play only a peripheral role.


The goal of Western policy should be to open up the societies of Eastern Europe to the point where gradual integration of economies and harmonization of political institutions can take the place of the present divisions. To effect this, it will be necessary to have quite a different foreign trade and financial policy for the Soviet Union than for the Eastern European “satellites”.

Where the Soviet Union is concerned, realism and hard bargaining should be the watchword. Right now, for example, trade terms are extremely generous. The NATO countries and Japan sell grain, machinery, and equipment in substantial quantities to the Soviet Union, $4,5 billion worth in 1975 alone. They provide technical assistance and training to Soviet enterprises, sometimes as in the case of Fiat, designing and equipping complete factories. Western taxpayers subsidize credit for exports to the USSR to the extent of an enormous overhanging debt of $40 billion at the end of 1976. The new technique of accepting exports in lieu of cash repayment is another enormous advantage to the Soviet Union. The 950-million-pound line-of-credit extended by the British Labour government in 1975, under an export agreement which provides for construction of a steel mill, chemical plants, a compressor plant for a gas pipeline, and even a complete shipyard, allows full or partial payment for the equipment and licenses through deliveries of the products of the new enterprises. This not only relieves the Soviet Union of substantial debt but improves the image of her economy.

The main attraction of East-West trade to the Soviet Union, however, is in the two areas of grain and technology. The need for the former is recurrent, but the need for the latter is persistent and growing; only technological improvement can arrest the declining growth rate of the Soviet economy. Soviet data itself shows a decline in the national income growth rate from 7.4 per cent in 1966—1970 to 5.7 per cent in 1970—75. Despite its achievements in space and weaponry, neither in major nor minor industrial technology is the Soviet economy dynamic. The only alternative to loosening the grip of the state on the economy—which to the Soviet leadership would open every other kind of floodgate—is to make Western technology and expertise part of the package of authorized imports.

Of Soviet hard currency imports in 1975, machinery and equipment accounted for 32.3 per cent. Of these imports, the ultimate value of technology and know-how in increased productivity was enormous, among other things raising export potential and reducing import needs at the same time. By replicating the superior technology in the imported equipment, additional gains have been possible. A recent Stanford Research Institute study suggests that the growth of Soviet industrial production from 1968—1973 would have been 28.4 per cent instead of 33.7 per cent had it not been for imports of Western machinery. Another recent study of Soviet fertilizer production by Philip Hanson of the University of Birmingham estimated that $2 billion worth of Western equipment and associated know-how imported and installed between 1960 and 1975 was responsible for additional agricultural output in the order of $4 billion annually by the mid-1970’s.

The extraordinary importance attached to Western technology by the Soviet leadership is demonstrated by its elevation of “naukovedenie”—an untranslatable term embracing both the methodology of science and the theory of cognition—into an institutional function of the state. The resultant investment—in terms of money, personnel, and high-level attention—into institutions of scientific interchange and technical intelligence is illustrated by the extraordinary degree of high-level participation lavished by the Soviet leadership on the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna. This reseach institute, supported by the scientific establishments of 15 advanced industrial nations including the Soviet Union, the United States, and Japan, conducts studies in the methodology and techniques of cybernetics, advanced computer technology, and the theory of systems analysis; it also sponsors interdisciplinary systems projects on such topics as world energy consumption, development of a pan-European electrical power grid, and urban disease patterns. In the process it acts as a unique channel of technology transfer and scientific interchange—which is the reason why its principal organizer and chairman is Jerman Gvishiani, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee on Science and Technology for Foreign Relations, and the foremost exponent of “naukovedenie” in the Soviet Union. At the relatively small cost of $2 million annually in dues, matched by the United States, the Soviet Union has for the last five years had access to the best brains of the free world in applied higher mathematics and computer sciences.


The technology gap is the Achilles heel of the Soviet industrial base, but in spite of a network of controls it is not a gap that Western governments exploit. In theory, the NATO Coordinating Committee of Nations (CoCom) maintains a selective embargo to prevent Western firms from exporting equipment and technology critical to the Soviet military buildup. The United States makes sporadic efforts to get the list tightened and to prevent European licensees from re-exporting U.S. defense technology to the East. But the system is loosely administered and impossible to police after the first sale to an intermediary purchaser, especially a neutral or East European country. The problem of course is that technology is inextricably linked with the machinery and equipment, which Western governments are competing vigorously to export—another pernicious effect of the rise in oil prices and the OPEC cartel.

What the West needs to do at the very least is drastically to tighten the technology flow to the Soviet Union and at the same time employ it as a bargaining tool in negotiations to secure Soviet oil, gas, and raw materials on more favorable terms. Long-term credits with repayment in Soviet exports ought to be withheld unless similar concessions are secured as a quid pro quo. The virtually one-way flow of sophisticated theoretical knowledge through exchange programs and IIASA ought to be carefully monitored to insure that the West is an equal beneficiary. Instead of making industrial technology and know-how part of a single export package, they ought to be negotiated for separately, perhaps against better terms in imports of Soviet raw materials.

The West is at an extraordinary disadvantage in its business dealings with the Soviets. It is badly fragmented, not only as between rival governments but as between competing firms within each country. Although in toto not particularly dependent on exports to the Warsaw Pact countries—West Germany’s 3.1 percentage of total exports is the highest in NATO—the competition for the Eastern market is so severe on firms that do compete that the relatively centralized Soviet purchasing system can exact the lowest price, the longest credit terms, and the most liberal patent and know-how provisions as the price of doing business. A central negotiating office to handle all major commercial deals with the Soviet Union including grain sales, ought to be seriously considered by the NATO Council.

With Eastern Europe, on the other hand the policy ought to be the reverse. Instead of foolishly lumping these countries together with the Soviet Union in Western economic policy and strategic embargoes, we should be as generous as common sense and sound bargaining merit. True, there will be initially some leakage of technology and know-how through these countries to the Soviet Union, but the more industrially advanced and economically prosperous they become the more restive they will be under the decaying remnants of Soviet domination. The greater the economic ties to the West, the sooner the political institutions of the Eastern European countries will become liberalized and more compatible with those of other European countries, especially those characterized by parliamentary socialism, such as Austria, Finland, and Sweden. Another effective technique for opening up Eastern Europe would be to keep constant pressure on these countries to admit foreign publications and allow unrestricted movement of persons across national frontiers. Where Eastern Europe is concerned, the most generous policy economically is likely to have the best result politically. These countries are aching to reassert their ancient autonomy, and all that remains to be done is to guide their aspirations toward a new federal system.

There remains the touchy issue of human rights, which has gradually enmeshed the Carter administration in a web of inconsistencies. When Soviet mail interception or expulsion of an intrusive journalist is more decried by U.S. official domnation than the torture and murder habitually engaged in by the governments of Uganda, Cambodia, and Chile, loss of credibility is inevitable. Too much attention has also been lavished on the pampered class of Soviet and Eastern European intellectuals, distracting attention from the far greater plight of regimented factory and farm workers, who get no privileges, are paid less, and are jailed sooner if they complain about their lot. Where government atrocities are concerned, Europeans become just as exercised as Americans, but lesser violations of civil liberties are regarded as endemic to the societies concerned, and hardly worth the price of jeopardizing relations. If human rights are to become a permanent part of American foreign policy, we ought to focus on barbarous practices repugnant to all mankind, and not try to foist first amendment freedoms on societies to which they are alien.

Detente ought to be welcomed, not feared. It offers the West a long-sought opportunity for the reintegration of Europe and gradual restoration of the old Concert of Europe in the modern form of a federation of parliamentary welfare-states. This restoration in turn could lead to the non-violent liberalization of the Soviet regime, and an end to the 30-year confrontation between East and West. With this goal in mind, the differentiation of Western foreign policy as between Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union should define itself in all practical applications.


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