If [Mikhail S. Gorbachev] transforms Soviet society, will the Soviet Union be more pragmatic and less adventurous, or less inhibited and more hostile? Will increased confidence foster arrogance or amiability? Will Gorbachev's reforms spread to the satellite countries of Eastern Europe? What if Eastern Europe explodes on him? What if Gorbachev's reforms fail? Will his successors turn inward or outward, perverse or friendly?
Finally, according to all specialists, Gorbachev, no matter how much energy he devotes to the Soviet economy and to military budget cuts, has no intention of abdicating the Soviet Union's status as a world superpower. Many experts believe that Gorbachev would be less foolish than his predecessors in any Third World escapades, but they discern in Gorbachev's early foreign policy moves-like his maneuvering in the Persian Gulf-a desire to make it clear that the Soviet Union intends to be treated as a power that counts everywhere in the world. Gorbachev's surprising embrace of the United Nations in recent statements-a sharp reversal of past policy-has been cited as evidence of this.
Much of the discussion about Gorbachev's foreign policy and a foreign policy toward Gorbachev focuses more on image these days than substance. Beyond the image, however, lie some complex problems that may prove intractable no matter how much poise and sophistication are displayed by Gorbachev and his new diplomats. A closer look at three of the issues underscores the difficulty of trying to plot the future based on the little we now know of Gorbachev.