The United States and its allies would no longer need to aim at "containing" the Soviet Union militarily if the Soviet Union achieves significantly greater democracy, President Bush is quoted as saying.
Instead, the president told interviewers from The Washington Post, U.S. concern would shift to "the economic side of things."Bush was interviewed in London on Thursday. The interview was published Friday.
Sounding themes he has emphasized in recent speeches, Bush said the Soviet Union "might well be in the state of radical change."
"And as this change asserts itself, and as they genuinely change, our doctrine need no longer be containing a militarily aggressive Soviet Union," the president said.
Greater freedom in the Soviet Union means more freedom and less rigid boundaries in all of Europe, he said: "As those things happen, the role of NATO shifts, our own role shifts, from the main emphasis on deterrence to an emphasis on the economic side of things."
Bush emphasized he did not believe that freedom had fully arrived in the Soviet Union and "we have got to keep our guard up" until then.
In a separate Post interview in Washington, Defense Secretary Richard Cheney said if Bush's proposals for armed forces reductions in Europe are accepted, U.S. land forces might wind up stressing lighter equipment for easier deployment to world trouble spots.
Bush will visit Poland and Hungary this summer, but he said he did not believe talks with the Soviets about the Soviet allies in Eastern Europe were appropriate. "That is not my concept," he said.
On the massive pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing, where Bush represented the United States in 1974 and 1975, Bush said he had learned "don't judge events in China by the headlines of the moment" but "I don't think the Chinese want to put the democratic genie back in the bottle or can put it back in the bottle. I don't think the Soviets can."
He said Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev had told him "elements in the United States" did not want the new Soviet "restructuring" policies to succeed and "I said, Not so. I don't know of any credible elements that don't want it to succeed."
Gorbachev apparently has stopped shipping weapons to Nicaragua, as he has said, but other Soviet-bloc countries are doing it, Bush said.