The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush : Conversations That Ended the Cold War

The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush : Conversations That Ended the Cold War

The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush : Conversations That Ended the Cold War

The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush : Conversations That Ended the Cold War

Synopsis

"This book presents and interprets the archival records pertaining to the last meetings between Reagan, Gorbachev and Bush between 1985 and 1990, and the transcripts which include direct quotes by top leaders, as far as the interpreters and the notetakers managed to capture them. Important sources are the excerpts from the transcripts of the foreign ministers--Eduard Shevardnadze, Alexander Bessmertnykh, George Shultz, and James Baker--especially when they go face to face with the president or the general secretary. The summit conversations fueled a process of learning on both sides. Geneva 1985 and Reykjavik 1986 reduced Moscow's sense of threat and unleashed Reagan's inner abolitionist. Malta 1989 and Washington 1990 helped dampen any superpower sparks that might have flown in a time of revolutionary change in Europe, set off by Gorbachev and by Eastern Europeans (Solidarity, dissidents, reform communists). The high level and scope of the dialogue between these world leaders was unprecedented and appears to be largely missing in today's world"--Provided by publisher.

Excerpt

This book is the culmination of 20 years of research that started in the early 1990s when the Gorbachev Foundation published the Russian-language transcripts of the Reykjavik and Malta summits with Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, respectively. It took years (in the case of Reagan) and decades (in the case of Bush) to get the American transcripts declassified, but along the way, the authors gathered thousands and thousands of pages of the preparatory talks on both sides, the internal policy debates, the recommendations to their bosses by key players ranging from the cia to the Soviet military-industrial commission, the mid-stream all-nighters by subordinates during the summits, the after-action reports both official and unofficial (as in diaries), and the makings of a truly interactive documentary history of these extraordinary conversations that ended the Cold War.

We call this book “the last superpower summits” not only because there is only one superpower today, but also because it seems to us that the high level and scope of the dialogue between these world leaders was unprecedented and appears to be largely missing in today’s world. Reading the transcripts, the memcons, the telcons, the letters, one almost gets nostalgic for the quality of the conversation, which briefly reached the level of global partnership on settling regional issues, and reflected a remarkable degree of understanding of mutual interests. There were certainly elements of manipulation, going both ways, especially around the unification of Germany in nato and the first Gulf War, that left resentments which plague international relations even today. But the meeting of the minds fairly leaps from the pages of these extraordinary documents, which more than most, “speak for themselves,” for they are mostly the spoken word.

This book is the story of an extended conversation made possible by the change of leadership on the Soviet side in 1985, and the eagerness on both sides to engage (and be seen to engage!). the documents show significant differences between the two American administrations in their connections with Gorbachev, and much more continuity on the Soviet side.

We conclude in this book that the summit conversations drove a process of learning on both sides. Early on, Geneva 1985 and Reykjavik 1986 reduced Moscow’s sense of threat and unleashed Reagan’s inner abolitionist. Later on, Malta 1989 and Washington 1990 helped dampen any superpower sparks that might have flown in a time of revolutionary change in Europe, set off by Gorbachev and by Eastern Europeans (Solidarity, dissidents, reform Communists, and emigrants, in pretty much that order). and at the very end (almost too late) the summits and their “arms race in reverse” actually dramatically reduced the nuclear . . .

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