Soviet—American Relations in the Reagan Years
As the 1980s draw to their close, the typical New York Times reader’s picture of international affairs is beset by worries and apprehensions. Historians have instructed us that the US may well be slated to share the fate of the great empires of the past: excessive spending on defense and other strains on our economic resources are inexorably depleting America’s power and ability to defend its interests and propagate its ideals throughout the world. Politicians and the public remain wary of the USSR: for all of its internal perturbations, the Communist giant remains an ominous presence on the world stage, complicating, if not actually aggravating, the festering international problems such as in the Middle East, the Caribbean, the Gulf … And the arms experts, those Cassandras of our age, are continuing their dirge — for all of perestroika and the alleged new thinking on international affairs in the Kremlin, Soviet ICBM’s are targeted on the US, and the Soviet Union still retains a frightening first strike advantage over us. Nor, they warn, would the US predicament disappear after any even quite drastic reduction in Soviet heavy land-based strategic missiles. A far-reaching START agreement would only enhance the danger of Western Europe being overrun by the Warsaw Pact’s conventional forces, so superior in practically every aspect to those of NATO.
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