So many wonderful things have been said of Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev in recent days that I am loath simply to repeat them. Instead, I have reached back for my own memories, those that brought home to me his unique place in Russian history. Of course, you would expect that I would sing kudos for his role, together with Ronald Reagan, in halting the nuclear arms race in the 1980s. Their 1986 meeting at Reykjavik was a breakthrough that led within a few years to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), and within a few years more to the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
What I recollect from Reykjavik, however, was my astonishment at news reports on the first day that Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev and American President Reagan were considering abolishing ballistic missiles and the nuclear weapons that went on them. At the time a young analyst at RAND, I knew the debates that had been raging in our own system about undertaking reductions in nuclear weapons, never mind abolishing them. “Richard Perle,” I thought, “must be furious over this.”
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