When analyzing the nature of objective impediments to U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation and their causes the special role of attitudes and psychological factors inherent to the interacting sides should be pointed out.
Many program managers and specialists involved in the implementation of the U.S.-Russian cooperation grew up and received their education in the Cold War years. Their knowledge, political views and attitudes were formed in the period of severe ideological and military confrontation between the two openly hostile blocs. One way or the other, the Cold War relics exert an influence on the mentality of the new generation as well, despite principally different actual relations between the U.S. and Russia.
Relics of subconscious mutual attitudes toward the partner as though it were a potential adversary, and feelings of distrust and suspicion often cause unnecessary tension during negotiations that hinder attaining effective arrangements.
Setbacks and delays that occur during implementation of the joint programs often result from and confirm the psychological difficulties and negative stereotypes of the participants.
Taking into consideration the psychological inertia and the vitality of ideological doctrines formed by the educational system, family relations, culture (literature, theater, movies) and the mass media, no easy ways to overcome the legacy of the Cold War mentality seem to exist. Long-term, focused, and wide-ranging activities of the Governments, politicians, research and educational institutions are necessary to reach this goal.
The search for a solution of this task could become a strategic goal of the U.S. and Russia in the foreseeable future. It is only the people of new generations, free of the negative Cold War stereotypes and guided by principally a new mentality, who are capable of finally solidifying the emerging relations of trust, friendship and cooperation between the U.S. and Russia, and making the process irreversible.
However, in our opinion efforts to close the gap in understanding the root causes and overcoming remaining differences in the mentalities of the sides should be initiated by the managers and participants in the bilateral cooperation programs and be supported by the governments primarily interested in their success.
In particular, the following set of specific activities could be proposed to improve the efficiency of the bilateral cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation:
Exchanges between students of military academies and colleges. Such exchanges could be very useful to educate a new generation of specialists capable of understanding the positions of their partners in negotiations and thus able to make compromises. There is no doubt that Russian officers trained at the U.S. military institutions, and their U.S. colleagues after studies at Russian military academies, would find common approaches to