regular ministerial or cabinet-level meetings on a "whole agenda of issues" and agreeing to reduce weapons stockpiles. He promised to increase grain available for purchase by the USSR. "As I stand here and look out from this podium," the president said, "I can see the representative for the Soviet Union—not far from the representative of the United States....There's not a great distance between us." Satisfied, even exultant, he concluded his address with the idealistic words of Thomas Paine: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." 162
Reagan had used the United Nations to set the tone for his meeting with Gromyko, scheduled for four days later, September 28. He evinced an uncommon interest and spent time preparing for this encounter, the first on such a high level since the Soviets had invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The meeting was cordial and was followed up with Gromyko's visit to the State Department the next day. Then, on November 22, 1984, both countries announced that Shultz would meet with Gromyko in Geneva in early January for wide-ranging discussions. The ice, frozen for some four years, was breaking. Within half a year it would proceed to melt with the coming of Mikhail Gorbachev. But, in the meantime, dark clouds were circling the Reagan administration, and the subsequent downpour would seriously divert attention from international matters.
Secretary of State Shultz, as we have seen, began his career in the State Department faced with a problem in the Middle East that he did not relish. Similarly, he found that "Central American policy was a swamp." 163 Little could he realize in 1982 how the two regions would be star-crossed and would involve the Reagan administration, and the country, in a damaging scandal.
On November 3, 1986, Al Siraa, an Arab-language magazine in Beirut, broke a story that the United States had negotiated an arms-for‐ hostages deal with Iran. Reagan, of course, had denounced Iran during the election campaign of 1980. Moreover, by federal law (the Arms Export Control Act), the United States was precluded from providing any weaponry to Iran. Finally, as Shultz noted in his memoirs, this____________________