The Center for Security Policy today questioned the substance and pace of Bush Administration efforts to support the Gorbachev regime in light of the increasingly uncertain outlook for the Soviet president and what is left of his reform program. In a report entitled Time for a "Sanity Check:" Do Hasty U.S. Concessions to Gorbachev Make Sense?, the Center identifies a number of these concessions including: a spate of ill-advised U.S. arms control initiatives now in the offing; the Administration’s drift toward associating itself with the Kremlin rather than with those in the Baltic republics and others within the USSR demanding democracy and independence; and its recent decisions to liberalize the sale of extremely sophisticated, militarily relevant technology.
Time For A "Sanity Check" addresses the obvious, but largely unposed, question: Why are such concessions being made at the very moment when it is becoming obvious that the prospects for the intended beneficiary — Mikhail Gorbachev — are diminishing daily?
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., director of the Center, said, "The Bush Administration appears to be pursuing a policy predicated on a now largely discredited notion — namely that Gorbachev’s success was inevitable and that it was in the West’s interest to help him achieve it. Today, few inside or outside of the Administration believe it likely Gorbachev will succeed. What is more, the use being made of the Soviet intervention Baku to suppress the political opposition raises fresh doubts about the true direction of his ‘reform’ program and its consistency with U.S. interests."
Gaffney added, "Under most of the plausible scenarios, the concessions now being offered by the Administration will prove detrimental to American and Western security. Should Gorbachev adopt a less benign attitude or should he be replaced with a more traditional and aggressive Soviet leader, the aid and high technology we propose to give him and the reductions in our military posture that we are contemplating in the arms control talks and in the budget process will leave us more vulnerable — not less — to a renewed threat from Moscow."
The Center believes that, instead of offering sweeping concessions, the United States now should: maintain an effective and qualitatively robust military posture with which Moscow finds itself unable to compete; eschew arms control deals that would compromise that posture; and deny the Soviet Union access to large-scale Western economic, financial and technology resources unless and until wholesale transformation of the Soviet system occurs. Such a policy offers a double benefit: It properly safeguards U.S. security interests during a period of grave uncertainty about the USSR’s future course and it maintains the necessary pressure for genuine, systemic reform there — the sort of change needed to effect a meaningful and lasting diminution in the Soviet threat.