The Gorbachev Challenge

He came, he spoke, he conquered. But his enticing call for a kinder, gentler world provides an opportunity for Bush: to recapture the initiative by offering an American vision for ending the cold war

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Bush could also lay out a vision of Western goals that transcend the cold war struggle. The necessity to contain Soviet influence often led U.S. policymakers to suppress America's natural idealism and support regimes whose only redeeming grace was their anti-Communism. To the extent that Gorbachev's new thinking makes that less necessary, it frees the U.S. and the West to pursue more positive goals. Among them: attacking environmental problems that cannot be solved on a national basis; shaping aggressive new methods for containing the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; reducing world famine and poverty; resolving regional conflicts.

Gorbachev has already seized the initiative on many of these issues and seeks to assert his leadership role. Each represents an opportunity for East and West to work together. But just as important, each offers Bush the chance to assert the vision and values that the U.S. and its allies offer the world. In the age of Gorbachev, "new thinking" has become a Soviet monopoly. If Bush hopes to define an age of his own, he must start by reminding the world that new thinking also happens to be an American specialty.

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