The current tug of war between Moscow and East Germany leaves West Germany's ruling center-right coalition riding high politically. East-West German detente - the central target of Soviet displeasure - is enormously popular in West Germany. East Germany's new public willingness to defend this mini-detente against Soviet diatribes is appreciated here - and chalked up as a plus for Bonn's diplomacy.
And West Germany's opposition Social Democrats, having themselves started the ''Ostpolitik'' (policy toward the East bloc), can hardly now criticize it.
All this is a welcome change for a government that in the past year has gotten little praise from the domestic press, and much blame for one mishap after another.
Even the present Ostpolitik has its quibblers. But most West Germans consider the Ostpolitik a major success. And West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher - recently repudiated by his own Liberal party in domestic politics - was glad to radiate this conviction at a press conference Aug. 9.
No, he wouldn't fly off to Moscow, as some have proposed, to get the Soviet Union to stop its allegations of West German ''revanchism'' (designs on recovering German territory lost by Hitler). The Bonn government has already made it abundantly clear that it respects the inviolability of existing European borders.
Besides, differences between Moscow and East Berlin are ''quintessentially their own'' affair for the East German leaders to sort out. Intervention by Bonn is undesirable.
Yes, Genscher has every expectation that East German party and state chief Erich Honecker will make his first visit to West Germany next month as planned. And isn't it good that medium-size countries, ''without overestimating themselves, can contribute to peaceful relations in Europe and the world?''
Genscher's rebuttal of Moscow's contrary pressure on East Berlin to heighten East-West tension was clear.
Earlier in the week Genscher similarly refuted the Soviet accusation that Bonn is trying to destabilize East Germany. Without mentioning specifically Pravda's attack on Bonn's most recent guarantee of $330 million credits to East Germany, he pointedly noted that political stabilization is aided by ''a healthy economy'' and the contribution of ''credits'' to that economy.