You are hereINT-1989-04-11


Doc Type: 
Intelligence Report
Full Title: 
NIE 11-4-89: Soviet Policy Toward the West: The Gorbachev Challenge
Language Type: 

The remarkable section headlined "Disagreements" provides a striking contrast to President Reagan's comment in the Governor's Island summit that "we were all on Gorbachev's side concerning the reforms he was trying to make in the Soviet system."  Here, in a summary of the thinking of President Bush's own top advisers Scowcroft and Gates, the estimate says "Some analysts see current policy changes as largely tactical, driven by the need for breathing space from the competition…. They judge that there is a serious risk of Moscow returning to traditionally combative behavior when the hoped for gains in economic performance are achieved."  In contrast, "Other analysts believe Gorbachev's policies reflect a fundamental re-thinking of national interests and ideology as well as more tactical considerations…" and amount to "historic shifts in the Soviet definition of national interest" and "lasting shifts in Soviet behavior."  The evidence now available from the Soviet side, including the documents included in this posting and the others in the National Security Archive's series on the U.S.-Soviet summits, demonstrates that the latter analysts were precisely correct; yet they did not have nearly the influence on U.S. policy after the 1986 Reykjavik summit, or especially in the first year of the George H.W. Bush administration, that the hard-liners did who were so wrong because of their presumptions about the Soviet Union.  These disagreements within the U.S. side and the suspicions of top policymakers in Washington would create a kind of paralysis in the process of arms reductions after Governors Island, leaving worldwide persistence of nuclear weapons and fissile material in particular at far higher levels than the U.S. and the Soviet Union could have achieved if a more accurate U.S. view of Gorbachev's reforms had carried the day.

From National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book 261