64 Foreign Aff. 479 (1985-1986)
Superpower Balancing Acts

handle is hein.journals/fora64 and id is 491 raw text is: Jeremy R. Azrael
Stephen Sestanovich
Wmet, as we had to meet, President Reagan told
Congress in November on his return from Geneva. A week
later General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev said to the Supreme
Soviet, A dialogue of top leaders is always a moment of truth
in relations between states.
1985 became the year of the summit, of a faster tempo and
a softer tone in U.S.-Soviet relations. The President's invitation
to meet, issued in March, had been his very first message to
the new Soviet leader and reflected a widespread hope that the
passing of the Kremlin's old men might permit East-West
conciliation. Yet the leaders' more direct involvement and even
their apparently amiable personal relationship could hardly
resolve the contentious issues between the two sides. For this
purpose, the relative strength of their bargaining positions
remained decisive. In the course of the year, each side therefore
sought to overcome those problems that in the past had weak-
ened it in the superpower competition.
For the United States, two problems continued to stand
above the rest: the Soviet strategic nuclear buildup and Mos-
cow's military engagement, both direct and indirect, in the
Third World. Both preoccupations date back to the decline of
dtente in the late 1970s; they figured prominently in the
rhetoric of candidate Reagan in 1980 and then in the policies
of the President's first term. In the past year the Administration
focused on two responses that are likely to be remembered as
the most distinctive elements of its diplomacy: the Strategic
Defense Initiative (SDI) and support for anti-communist insur-
gencies. These measures were the only foreign policy matters
Jeremy R. Azrael recently joined the senior staff of the Rand Corporation
after three years as a member of the secretary of state's Policy Planning
Council. From 1961 to 1981 he was professor of political science and
chairman of the Committee on Slavic Area Studies at the University of
Chicago. Stephen Sestanovich is a Soviet specialist on the National Security
Council staff. The views expressed here are the authors' own and do not
necessarily reflect official positions of the U.S. government.

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