GOODDDDDD - 1 Ronald Reagans Cold War Victory(1989)1 John...

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1 “Ronald Reagan’s Cold War Victory” (1989) 1 John Lewis Gaddis The time has come to acknowledge an astonishing development: during his eight years as president, Ronald Reagan has presided over the most dramatic improvement in U.S.- Soviet relations—and the most solid progress in arms control—since the Cold War began. History has often produced unexpected results, but this one surely sets some kind of record. Reagan was not an enthusiast for arms control before entering the White House: indeed his 1976 and 1980 campaigns appeared to reject that enterprise altogether in favor of a simpler search for national security through military superiority over the Soviet Union. That arms control has not only survived but prospered under his leadership ought to make us take a fresh look, both at the administration he headed and at the arms control process itself as it has traditionally been understood. That process had taken on several distinctive characteristics by the end of the 1970s: Pessimism. It is now almost forgotten (perhaps even by themselves) that Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger had originally portrayed the SALT [Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty] I negotiations as a way to reduce the effects of America’s military decline, stemming from a Soviet strategic buildup in the mid-1960s, to which the United States, because of the Vietnam War, had at first been too distracted and then too divided to respond. Arms control carried with it the tacit assumption that, in this situation, SALT was, at best, a way of minimizing the damage. Coincident but unrelated events had reinforced, by the end of the 1970s, the association of arms control with visions of U.S. military inferiority. These developments included the energy crisis and ensuing doubledigit inflation; the erosion of presidential authority that began with Watergate and continued under Ford and Carter; the collapse of old allies in Iran and Nicaragua; and, most dramatically, the juxtaposition of American ineffectiveness in the Tehran hostage crisis with apparent Soviet purposefulness in invading Afghanistan. Complexity. The Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 took 10 days to negotiate and fills just over two pages in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency’s published version. SALT I took two-and-a-half years to negotiate; the text is 18 pages. The unratified SALT II Treaty required almost seven years to negotiate; the resulting text and accompanying statements fill 31 pages of text. With arms control agreements becoming so complex that the experts themselves—to say nothing of average citizens—were finding them difficult to understand, it was reasonable to begin to wonder by the end of the 1970s how one would actually know whether they coincided with the national interest, or how to be sure that the Soviets understood them in precisely the same way. 1
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This note was uploaded on 08/27/2011 for the course GOVT 312L taught by Professor Dennis during the Summer '11 term at University of Texas.

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GOODDDDDD - 1 Ronald Reagans Cold War Victory(1989)1 John...

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