Much conventional wisdom supports the argument that growing economic problems in the Soviet Union will tend to enhance Soviet willingness to make concessions at the arms control bargaining table. This position is plausible. Equally plausible, however, is the opposite view: as a means of protecting its political power at home, the Soviet leadership could be led by falling living standards to emphasize the growth and importance of external threats. This would be inconsistent with a Soviet desire for arms control as conventionally defined. Economic problems in the Soviet Union are not new, and the Soviet approach to past arms control negotiations does not offer evidence in support of the conventional view. Copyright 1986 Western Economic Association International.
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