CIA Intelligence Assessment: Rising Political Instability Under Gorbachev

3 Points:
  1. December 1988, Gorbachev delivered a “watershed” speech at the United Nations that demonstrated his growing liberalization efforts. All of these efforts would create a less intrusive force in the eastern bloc, as shown be attempts to decrease the military forces prevalent there and the amounts of armaments used.
  2. President Bush saw these as empty promises; pointing out how despite the perception that Gorbachev was creating opportunity for the people in the Soviet Union, their standards of living remain very low- similar to as they were under Stalin. He says that economic issues (he frequently describes it with the word “stagnate”) and political differences from what the people enjoyed under Brezhnev, has caused unrest within the people.
  3. Bush predicts that this unrest from the populous will cause a threat to Gorbachev’s control, and that “the next several years promise to be turbulent” because of the idea that there will be a split in leadership under Gorbachev between those that want to continue these reforms and those that do not.
2 Questions:
  1. Why did the Bush administration think that accepting Soviet reforms would “divide the US from its NATO allies” if they should also want a less aggressive military presence from the USSR?
  2. What was the Soviet response to this criticism of their leader and his liberalization efforts?
1 Observation:
  1. Even when presented with liberalization from the USSR, the United States and its NATO allies still appear to distrust the sincerity of it. The description notes that the Bush administration was divided on whether to accept these as genuine efforts or to question if this was simply a ploy to make the US more accepting of Soviet actions. After creating a “strategic review” of the foreign policy on this issue, it is evident that the US determined a cautious stance towards these actions, overall questioning the efforts of the USSR to alter its stances from the past.
Link to the specific section: