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6/10/2004

Kaplan on Reagan

Ron and Mikhail's Excellent Adventure - How Reagan won the Cold War. By Fred�Kaplan: "At their face-to-face summit of October 1986 in Reykjavik, Reagan went far beyond Gorbachev's proposal of a 50 percent strategic-arms cut. To the alarm of some aides, who were not let in on the discussion, he suggested that the two sides get rid of nuclear weapons altogether and jointly build an SDI system to guard against a nuclear revival. Gorbachev initially dismissed the idea. 'I do not take your idea of sharing SDI seriously,' the minutes (which were declassified by the Soviets 12 years ago) show him saying. 'You don't want to share even petroleum equipment, automatic machine tools, or equipment for dairies, while sharing SDI would be a second American revolution�and revolutions do not occur all that often.' Reagan replied, 'If I thought that SDI could not be shared, I would have rejected it myself.'
The Reykjavik talks finally fizzled. Gorbachev said he'd accept the zero-nukes plan if Reagan pledged not to test nuclear weapons in outer space (a crucial element of SDI). Reagan wouldn't accept that condition.
However, Gorbachev returned to Moscow persuaded that Reagan�who had earlier struck him as a 'caveman'�honestly had no intention of launching a first strike against the Soviet Union, and he made this point clear to the Politburo. He could continue with perestroika, which involved not just economic reforms but�as a necessary precondition�massive defense cuts and a transformation of international relations. He needed assurances of external security in order to move forward with this domestic upheaval. Reagan gave him those reassurances. Subsequent conversations between his foreign minister, Edvard Shevardnadze, and Secretary of State George Shultz reinforced his confidence.
In the last couple years of the Reagan administration, Rea"

 

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