Cold War Termination - Washington and moscow summits: december 1987 and may 1988




Neither the Washington nor the Moscow summits achieved agreements on all of the arms control issues. At the Washington summit the leaders did sign an important INF treaty to get rid of all inter-mediate missiles, both in Europe and Asia. Weinberger and hard-liners joined by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, resisted a START accord. Since the Joint Chiefs had never expected an agreement to be concluded, they had not worked out the force reductions that would be required by START, and they worried about Soviet statements that they might suspend any treaty if the United States engaged in SDI testing that violated the traditional interpretation of the ABM Treaty. Washington lacked an agenda to negotiate with Gorbachev, who arrived with numerous interesting proposals such as a Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and joint Soviet-American support for the Central American peace process led by Oscar Arias of Costa Rica.

Beyond the INF Treaty, the most significant effect of the summits was in the public impact that Reagan and Gorbachev had in one another's capitals. Reagan played the genial host in Washington and Gorbachev swept the Washington media, intelligentsia, and congressional leaders off their feet, charming audiences with his dynamic personality, quick mind, and friendly demeanor. Crowds lined the streets as Gorbachev zoomed around Washington in a black limousine, and Gorbachev reciprocated with a spontaneous American-style movement into the crowd at Connecticut and L streets. Public opinion polls taken after the summit indicated that by giving a public endorsement of Gorbachev as his friend, Mikhail, Reagan weakened the traditional Cold War view of Soviet leaders and raised public perceptions that the Soviet threat and the Cold War had declined.

Reagan's visit to Moscow had a similar impact on the Soviet public. Reagan followed a carefully designed script with fourteen presentations that emphasized visual impressions and the emotional impact of Reagan on the Russian people as he acted out the ceremonies of the summit. Sounding the trumpet of human rights, Reagan also spoke to Soviet intellectuals and students at Moscow State University about freedom and democracy. On a morning walk in Red Square, Reagan and Gorbachev jointly held a small boy, like two candidates running for office. When asked later by a reporter about the "evil empire," Reagan replied: "I was talking about another time, another era." Just as Americans warmed up to Gorbachev, the Soviet public gathered around Reagan's visit and by the end applauded him in the streets.

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