The Soviets: Trying to Influence Moscow

A longstanding and often frustrated goal of U.S. policy

The Reagan Administration believes it can influence the orientation, and possibly even the composition, of the leadership that has succeeded Leonid Brezhnev. That belief, whether it proves right or wrong, is a variation on an old theme: a stubbornly recurring but usually frustrated American desire to effect some change for the better in the system that poses the most serious military threat and political challenge facing the West.

Supreme power in the U.S.S.R. has changed hands only four times before. Vladimir Lenin died in...

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