PERSPECTIVEnPeace on Earth Among Men of Good WillnThe dilapidation of the Soviet Empire at the end ofn1989 became the minor premise of the argument thatnman’s dreams of peace and global unity are finally about tonbe realized at the end of the second millennium. Thenpeaceful crusade of East Germans across the border ^hasnconvinced otherwise sober men that democracy’s star is innthe ascendant. George Will made the point in one of hisnSunday morning lectures to David Brinkley and SamnDonaldson: the third President of the United States is thendominant man in Europe.nOne wishes the Germans, East and West, nothing butngood, but the complaints most frequently heard on thenrefugees’ lips had little to do with the principles of representativengovernment and a great deal to do with the shoddyngoods and low standard of living in the East. As they camenstreaming back from a day in West Berlin, it was not copiesnof the Declaration of Independence or any other forbiddennpolitical or religious tract they were carrying, but tape decks,nT-shirts, radios, and stuffed animals. They looked less likendemocratic revolutionaries than like K-Mart shoppers whonhad just blown their welfare checks on cheap Japanesenelectronics.nThe news commentators all spoke of a new day dawningnin history, and only a few were honest enough to point outnthat the real political drama being played out was a contest ofnwills between the old hard-line Gommunists, led by EriknHonecker, and the most powerful Gommunist czar sincenStalin. As if to rub in the message, Soviet spokesmenn12/CHRONICLESnby Thomas Flemingnnndeclared that the East German government was paying thenprice for its intransigence and threatened other hard-linersn(e.g., in Rumania) with a similar fate. It is a brilliant, ifndangerous strategy for Gorbachev; and one that couldnplunge Europe into spasms of ethnic conflict as each littlennation and national fragment begins demanding its rights,nbut so far the net effects are a qualified positive good forneveryone. At the best, it probably means Poland and EastnGermany will go the way of Sweden — social democraciesnaddicted to consumerism and impersonal sex. At the worst,nit means Wodd War III.nHowever things turn out, there is as much cause for doubtnas for rejoicing. After five years of glasnost, the Soviets arenonly beginning to trim their ruinously high military expenditures.nMeanwhile, they continue to ship arms into Afghanistan,nAfrica, and Gentral America. At the same time thenUSSR and its allies are negotiating trade credits, loans, andnother economic privileges from the West that will help themnto escape from the consequences of their vice and folly. Ancynic might suppose that this is the real point of Gorbachev’snreforms: a chance simultaneously to cut defensencosts and attract Western capital, without abating his globalnstrategy of aggression.nwhatever the facts on the case may be, the United Statesnwould be ill-advised to rush in blindly. Politics is alwaysna matter of risks and benefits to be calculated according tonthe rules of prudence, and Secretary Baker — to almostneveryone’s surprise — has so far done a credible job ofn