MOSCOW -- In the 2 1/2 years since Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary of the Soviet Union, his successes and setbacks have included: Economic Reform
Gorbachev successfully turned a corner in his drive for economic reform in June 1987, when a plenum of the powerful Central Committee approved an 11-point program for enforcing his economic restructuring drive, or perestroika.
The program includes a plan to make all Soviet industrial enterprises self-financing; under the current system they receive their funds and manufacturing orders from central planners. Another plan is gradually to broaden the quality-control system over industrial output to increase the value of and demand for Soviet consumer goods. These plans go into effect on Jan. 1.
The 11-point program, the foundation and legal basis of Gorbachev's reforms, is supplemented by other new economic initiatives introduced since the Kremlin leader came to power. Most of these initiatives are rules for establishing joint economic ventures between Soviet enterprises and western companies.
Important new rules also have been introduced to expand the number of cooperatives that operate outside of the control of the Soviet state and to allow state and cooperative agricultural farms to market a greater share of their products to the Soviet public, bypassing the current state middlemen.
There are two long-term objectives of the reforms: to make the Soviet Union self-sufficient in agricultural production; and to enhance Soviet industrial production, with equal emphasis on increasing quality and output.
In the short term, Soviet economists acknowledge that the enforcement of the reforms may lead to unstable periods of production in agriculture and industry. This year, Soviet production is expected to fall below last year's level, for example, despite a hard drive by Gorbachev and other leaders for early successes in perestroika.
Over the long term, four major obstacles remain in the effort to establish a structure for perestroika and to introduce its principles across the Soviet Union:A reform of the pricing system, still hotly debated in the Soviet leadership, is widely viewed as a prerequisite to the success of self-financing enterprises. Currently the prices of consumer goods such as bread and meat, as well as of industrial supplies, are subsidized at a loss to the state of billions of rubles annually. The need to overhaul the Soviet Union's industrial plant is also pressing. Soviet industries have gone without a major refurbishing since the 1940s. The finances for capital investments in industry are lacking, however. So far, the Soviet push for joint ventures with western companies, designed to attract foreign capital investments, has yielded minimal success. Another important obstacle is the resistance to implementing the reforms, which runs strong among senior officials and lower level bureaucrats. The reasons include a lack of understanding of the reforms, fear that they will result in economic hardships and a strongly held view that some of them run counter to the principles of socialism. In addition, the Gorbachev reforms have hardly touched the vast black market economic arena involving officials and a sector of the public in widescale corruption.Social Reform
The policy of glasnost, or public openness, is widely viewed as Gorbachev's most important accomplishment so far.
Glasnost has brought unprecedented exposures of flaws and mistakes by former and current Soviet officials and a lively debate in the official news media about how to bring about political and economic improvements.
Glasnost also has broken taboos against the public discussion of social problems, such as drug abuse, and permitted the publication of works by Soviet authors, including Boris Pasternak's "Dr. Zhivago," that were banned in the past as anti-Soviet.
Still, a ban exists against the publication of some writers who emigrated or were exiled from the Soviet Union, such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Vladimir Voinovich.
Also, some important public speeches remain unpublished, including the Oct. 21 speech by Moscow party chief Boris Yeltsin that reportedly led to his ouster.
The campaign for glasnost has been buttressed by other initiatives to broaden Soviet democracy: the election of factory managers, some limited multicandidate balloting for Soviet officials and a structure for nationwide discussion of major issues.
Each of these steps is so far still in the experimental stage, and still hotly debated at high levels of the Kremlin.
The Soviet leadership also has improved its human rights record this year by relaxing the restrictions for entering and leaving the country.
As a result, the emigration of Jews, ethnic Germans and other Soviets to the West is expected to climb to 25,000 this year, compared to a total of a little more than 1,000 last year and a high of 67,000 in 1979.
What could be the hallmark of change in Soviet human rights policy -- the repeal of two laws in the criminal code that allow arrest and imprisonment for "anti-Soviet" behavior -- is still in the discussion stage, however.
Until the two articles are removed, Soviet human rights improvements can be regarded as moderate and reversible, according to Soviet and western specialists.
The results of some of Gorbachev's other attempts to reform Soviet society have been similarly mixed.
Despite a hard campaign against alcohol, for instance, Soviets have circumvented production and distribution cutbacks with home brewing. This year, alcohol consumption increased slightly over last year's levels. Foreign Policy
The treaty to scrap medium- and shorter-range nuclear missiles, to be signed this week in Washington, is the first concrete result of a high-profile campaign that Gorbachev has launched for nuclear disarmament and other agreements to reduce the nuclear and conventional arsenals of the United States, the Soviet Union and other countries.
The stated objective is to bring armaments down to minimal levels needed to maintain defense needs.
Beyond the intermediate-range missile treaty to be signed on Tuesday, Moscow is seeking reductions in U.S. and Soviet strategic arsenals, chemicals weapons and battlefield nuclear missiles.
Progress in each of the areas is considered a result of the flexibility in Soviet arms control positions adopted after the Geneva arms talks were reinstated in January 1985 after the Soviets walked out of the talks two years earlier.
Besides strategic treaties, under Gorbachev's leadership, the Soviet Union has launched a wide range of diplomatic missions to improve its ties in Asia, Western Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
So far, efforts to strengthen links to Western Europe have been most successful.
In West Germany, Britain and several other West European countries, Gorbachev has registered a highly favorable rating in public opinion polls.
Despite a declared interest in finding an early peaceful solution to the eight-year-old Soviet-backed war in Afghanistan, however, signals indicate that Moscow is not yet ready to relinquish its hold over the country.
Relations with Israel, which were severed in 1973, also have improved this year.
But diplomats regard the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries as unlikely in the near future. Party Politics
Gorbachev moved quickly to replace an older generation of Communist Party leaders with younger officials committed to perestroika, glasnost and democratization.
As a result, nine of 13 members of the Politburo and 40 percent of the 300-member Central Committee have been replaced since Gorbachev took power. In addition, shake-ups in Moscow-based ministries have brought a majority of new ministers to power under Gorbachev.
In one of the most important moves in Gorbachev's bid to consolidate power, Defense Minister Sergei Sokolov was removed last May and replaced by Dmitri Yazov, apparently handpicked by the Soviet leader. A shake-up of other senior military officials followed, buttressing Gorbachev's influence in the defense establishment.
A series of key events in the past three months have indicated an erosion of Gorbachev's power base, however. In September, two leading Politburo members -- chief party ideologist Yegor Ligachev and KGB chief Viktor Chebrikov -- took a conservative public line on glasnost. In November, Yeltsin, a leading proponent of Gorbachev's reform movement, was ousted.
These developments were accompanied by a softening of Gorbachev's own position on reform.
Despite the sweeping personnel changes that Gorbachev orchestrated in his first 2 1/2 years in office, he has been unable to achieve a unified understanding of his reforms among party cadres and an agreement on the pace at which they should be enforced. Party leaders appear to be miles apart in their interpretation of how much freedom of expression should be allowed under glasnost, for example.
To rally the party Gorbachev has called a special conference, expected next June.