US-West European Relations During the Reagan Years: The Perspective of West European Publics

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Resolved to confront Soviet advances in the developing world and strengthen U. Once deployed, SDI would allow the U. By this time, Reagan was having second thoughts about his aggressive anti-Soviet stance. Shocked that the Soviet leadership might actually believe the U.

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This decision almost certainly prevented Soviet fears from escalating further, and possibly prevented a Soviet miscalculation that might have had grave consequences. The war scare of appears to have been an epiphany for Ronald Reagan. This marked the beginning of a new approach to the issue of U. Like Reagan, Andropov contributed to the heightened tensions in Unlike Reagan, Andropov had neither the inclination nor the energy to change his approach after the crisis had passed.

Significant improvement in U. The second major lesson that can be drawn from the war scare is that confirmation bias affected the Soviet view of U.

Confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that causes people to embrace information that confirms a previously existing view, while ignoring or rejecting information that casts doubt on it. Having convinced itself that the U. Although some individual Soviet agents were skeptical of the idea that the U. Two examples serve to demonstrate this point. First, in mid-October, the Soviet Union detected a spike in classified communication between London and Washington. Although they were able to monitor the volume of communication, the Soviets were unable to decode its content.

Predisposed to the idea that the U. In reality, the classified communication between London and Washington reflected British unhappiness over the invasion of Grenada, a Commonwealth country, that the U. In reality, U. Marine barracks in Beirut, but there was no general alert.

Introduction

In contrast to Ronald Reagan, who demonstrated a genuine desire to understand whether the Soviet leadership actually feared an attack from the U. Having dismissed Soviet fears as not genuine, the U. MI-6 then prepared a summary of the cable and passed it on to the CIA, where it was met with skepticism. Meanwhile, the U. Already a subscriber?

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Monitor Daily Current Issue. Monitor Political Cartoons. A Christian Science Perspective. Monitor Movie Guide. Monitor Daily. Photos of the Week. Share this article Copy link Link copied. Subscribe to continue. Get unlimited Monitor journalism. Learn more. Digital subscription includes: Unlimited access to CSMonitor. The Monitor Daily email. On major substantive issues nuclear, SDI, and regional issues , neither side budged.

ABLE ARCHER at Lessons of the War Scare - Foreign Policy Research Institute

It was a standoff. On one most important intangible -- public opinion, which counts for so much in the democratic West -- Gorbachev did well.

Roger Scruton – The Future of European Civilization: Lessons for America

But on balance Ronald Reagan was the winner. He transformed an image held by some in West Europe of a gun-slinging cowboy, given to harsh rhetoric, into that of a strong and responsible leader who could hold his own.

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He capped this positive image by personally briefing NATO before reporting to Congress and the public. But Gorbachev also came off well. He was tough substantively, yet genial, and he projected an aura of authority contrasting sharply with the fumbling Soviet gerontocracy of recent years. He may hazard that such a d'etente may inhibit or mute Western protests on Soviet actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere and its human rights abuses, for fear of rekindling the cold war.

So let us by all means negotiate with the Soviets but be careful not to be overconfident that a new era in US-Soviet relations has dawned until Soviet actions or positions at the conference table demonstrate a change. Douglas MacArthur II, a lecturer and consultant on international affairs, is a retired career ambassador who served as US coordinator at the Geneva summit.

Zbigniew Brzezinski

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