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Donald Regan on War & Peace

 


OpEd: Goal of strategic nuke talks was to keep talking

Gorbachev's motive in seeking a reduction in nuclear arms seemed to me to be almost entirely economic. The Russians were spending a staggering 17% of their gross national product on defense. Even with the huge increases in defense spending put into place by the Reagan Administration, the US was only spending between 6% and 7% of the GNP on its military establishment.

That was why Gorbachev wanted to negotiate--and that is why, in my opinion, Pres. Reagan was holding the trump card.

As a matter of practical politics, Gorbachev could not stay in power without at least the acquiescence of the Red Army, and he knew that reducing expenditures for conventional weapons was not the way to keep the Red Army happy. The President had three limited objectives:

  1. To establish a personal relationship with Gorbachev;
  2. To obtain a commitment from the Soviet leader that their talks on arms reductions would continue; and
  3. To agree on the place and approximate time of the next summit.
Source: For the Record, by Donald Regan, p.298&304 , May 2, 1988

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