Moscow eyes West's summit for rifts between US and Europe
As Mikhail Gorbachev braved pouring rain to review his first May Day parade as Soviet leader, there was no doubt that the Kremlin chief was watching developments 2,000 miles away in Bonn as closely as the marchers before him. Moscow has made no secret of its desire to see the Western summit this week turn into a shouting match revealing widening rifts between Washington and Western Europe over President Reagan's policies, both economic and military.
More than anything else, the Kremlin would like to see a major row erupt over Western European and Japanese participation in the United States' research program into space-based defense, the Strategic Defense Initiative. Moscow still prefers to call SDI by its nickname ``star wars.''
``The Reagan administration will exert on its allies mighty pressure in a bid to incline them to unconditional support of the star wars program,'' the official Soviet news agency Tass reported on Reagan's arrival in Bonn.
``Washington intends to use the Bonn summit meeting above all for thrusting its militarist adventuresome course on its partners, for drawing them deeper into the policy of confrontation,'' wrote Vladimir Serov and Sergei Sosnovsky, the two Tass correspondents sent to cover the summit.
Soviet officials have tried to tell Tokyo and Bonn that their cooperation in SDI would be taken by Moscow as a deliberate snub and warned that bilateral relations could suffer as a result.
One Soviet commentator saw Reagan as making his technologically advanced allies into ``subcontractors of the US military-industrial complex.''
The Tass review of the opening day of the summit contained as much Kremlin wishful-thinking as factual reporting when it declared: ``Acute contradictions dividing the US and its allies will invariably become an object of bargaining.''
The Kremlin's eagerness to drive a wedge between the US and its partners has even led the communist news media to lend apparent support to such capitalist schemes as a plan to link currencies to prevent an uncontrolled rise in the dollar.
Soviet economic experts have publicly sympathized with the governments of France, Britain, West Germany, and Japan in their complaints that high US interest rates and the resulting high value of the dollar are damaging their economies.
``The US pumps capital from Western Europe and Japan overseas, thus funding the arms race that it is intensifying on earth and in space,'' one said.
The Soviet public has been told that the summit is doomed to failure on economic lines, will fail to cure unemployment (depicted here as the scourge of capitalism), and that Reagan will use rhetoric to win over Western opinion to his tough anti-Soviet line, lessening the chances of agreement at the Geneva arms control talks.
Amid this, Moscow has greeted the clamor over Reagan's planned visit Sunday to the military cemetery in Bitburg, West Germany, as icing on the cake.
One after another of the Soviet Union's political pundits have taken obvious gleeful delight in heaping scorn on Reagan for ``insulting the memory of Nazi victims.'' (The Bitburg cemetery contains the graves of Nazi SS members.)
He has been accused of indirectly encouraging German groups campaigning for the return of lands lost to the Soviet Union and Poland in 1945. Bitburg has been portrayed as a symbol of US reconciliation with former Nazis.
The cemetery's proximity to a US air base is held up as proof that Reagan is determined to overthrow the maxim that ``never again shall a war be launched from German soil.'' This line will be heard as the Kremlin prepares its own military parade of the ``forces of peace and progress'' to mark the 40th anniversary of the war's end on May 8.