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Reagan-Grobachev Meeting in Iceland

October 19, 1986

In regard to the "failure" of the Reykjavik summit, there is more reason for optimism than there is for criticism. The fact that the leaders of the superpowers came so enticingly close to eliminating all offensive nuclear weapons in both of their arsenals is cause to celebrate. Never before has the most important dialogue in the world made such far-reaching gains.

Both leaders have manifested vision and skill never before demonstrated to prevent the competition of our countries from becoming incompatible impulses.

However, this relationship must be regulated by a mutual commitment to reciprocity and it is in the sphere of reciprocity that the Administration still needs to adjust.

There is a lesson from the past to be learned. By the end of the 1970s each partner in the detente relationship sought to skew the definitions of restraint and reciprocity in ways that would play to its own strengths, insulate its weaknesses, and maximize its comparative advantage.

As detente deteriorated, each side paid less and less attention to expanding the mutual interests that would be required to ensure the longevity of the process itself. Thus, in SALT I, the United States was determined to protect its MIRVs and to develop cruise missiles as ostensible bargaining chips, rather than trading them away in exchange for a Soviet commitment not to develop and deploy such weaponry. The Soviets responded by building up in those areas not restrained by the treaty.

Therefore, wouldn't 10 years of confining testing of the Strategic Defense Initiative technology to the laboratory further the process of nuclear disarmament by ensuring the longevity of that process? Undoubtedly, the Soviets view SDI as the United States' sixth card in a game of five-card stud.

Clearly, there are political constraints on both leaders that affect their stances on the SDI issue, but if the two leaders can come to terms in slashing long-range missile and bomber arsenals, and medium-range missiles currently deployed in Europe, then surely further negotiations concerning SDI, with the same vision that dominated Reykjavik, can further the process.


Redondo Beach

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