MOSCOW (AP) _ A historian has criticized Soviet dictator Josef V. Stalin for setting the Soviet Union down a path that led to years of confrontation with the West.

Vyacheslav Dashichev, a doctor of historical science, wrote in the May 18 edition of the newspaper Literaturnaya Gazeta that the problems began mostly after World War II.

Stalin tried to spread his brand of socialism ''wherever possible, unified in all countries, regardless of their national specifics,'' Dashichev said.

The article made the point that the re-examination of Soviet policies under Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev's policy of greater openness had focused only on problems in domestic affairs, and not foreign affairs. Mistakes also were made in foreign affairs, Dashichev said.

Soviet foreign policy was at least partly to blame for the arms buildup in the West and for the Western perception of a Soviet military threat, he wrote.

''Supercentralism in internal policy unavoidably gave rise to hegemony and a feeling of great power in foreign policy,'' the article said.

This policy led to Soviet splits with Yugoslavia, China and Albania, according to Dashichev.

The historian wrote that Stalin's view of an expanding socialist revolution was largely to blame for provoking U.S. imperialistic aggression.

Under the late Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev, ''miscalculations and an incompetent approach'' brought heightened confrontation with the West, the article said.

''Through our political, military, diplomatic involvement, we ignored the influence of regional conflicts on detente between the USSR and the West and on the entire system of mutual relationships,'' Dashichev wrote.

Brezhnev involved the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. He sent in troops in December 1979, and only now, under Gorbachev, are they withdrawing.

The historian said the main goal in Soviet foreign policy should be to establish mutual trust with the West, especially in nuclear disarmament. The Soviet Union should try to get its way on the international scene not through force but through ''economic, political, scientific and cultural successes.''

Gorbachev has called for ''new thinking'' in Soviet foreign policy to work in what he calls a ''new system of international peace and security.'' Gorbachev believes the best way for countries to avoid conflict is to put international coexistence above national self-interest.