Soviet view of 1981: 'a year without dialogue'
Democracy in America surprised not Alexis de Tocqueville alone. Moscow finds it surprising today, too. The process of American democracy is turning the United States into a difficult partner in foreign politics.
Each new US administration is opening the world anew for itself. It does not consider binding the agreements signed by its predecessors. Continuity in foreign policies is violated as a result. Washington generates unexpected news, but what is good for the press and television, is bad for the stability of international relations. Pacta sunt servanda.
Each new administration begins with ''studying'' problems of foreign policies. It takes it up to one year or more, depending on the experience and knowledge of its officials, to accomplish this task. A year before the expiry of its term, a new election race becomes Washington's only preoccupation. So foreign policy is made by the ''quanta'' of two years with two years in between.
The lot of the strategic arms limitation process bears this out. The new administration still continues to ''study'' the problem. It was only on Nov. 18 that President Reagan proposed starting talks on strategic armaments as soon as possible in the year to come. We shall wait and see, but for the time being there are no indications showing that Washington has any ideas on this score apart from its propoganda proposal to go over from SALT to START.
Let's also recall that last January the new administration launched a veritable ''war of words'' against the Soviet Union, in the course of which it uttered phrases alien to diplomatic lexicon. Moscow could have responded in the same manner, since America is not sinless, and the Russian language is emphatic enough. Moscow, however, was guided not by fleeting emotions but a sense of responsibility. After all, the world political climate depends on the state of Soviet-American relations. The ''war of words'' could well have brought the world back to the chilly times of the cold war.
And then in February, Moscow voiced its invitation to dialogue at all levels from the high rostrum of the 26th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party. This initiative came for Washington out of the blue, which shows its failure to understand the motives of Soviet behavior.
Later on the US gradually began to shift away from its initially negative attitude to the idea of Soviet-American dialogue. This seems to be brought about sooner by external than internal causes. In other words, this is not so much the result of ''agonizing reappraisal'' as of adaptation to reality. The US allies in NATO did much to bring the horse to water. They were scared by the perspective of the ''cradle'' of Western civilization being turned into a ''theater of hostilities,'' a perspective which, they thought, was made all too real by the bellicose statements of Washington officials. Paradoxical as it may seem, in the question of dialogue the American allies sided with the USSR.
Now that the horse had been brought to water, it was necessary to persuade it to drink. Several months passed before the talk about talks was replaced by talks proper - with the negotiations on a limited, albeit important question of European-based nuclear weapons starting in Geneva late in November.
Speaking strictly the dialogue has started. But it has just started, so to speak, in principle, and for this reason I deem it possible to say that the year 1981 was a year without dialogue.
Instead, it was the year of the US accelerated arms buildup. One of its features is development of such systems of weapons that make future control over them very difficult or altogether impossible. Meanwhile, the US side has always emphasized its concern about the problem of control. It appears that additional armaments do not strengthen US positions on hypothetic future arms reduction talks, but do undermine the opportunities for such reductions.
Moscow hopes that the Geneva negotiations will produce agreements on limitations and reductions (up to the zero level) of European-based nuclear armaments, and at the same time reminds that another crucial task is that of limiting and reducing strategic arms as the most powerful and dangerous. Leonid Brezhnev drew the world's attention to this task in his recent interview with the NBC network.
Moscow hopes that the year 1982 will see a constructive Soviet-American dialo