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The Last Superpower Summits

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton

Chapter 1. The Geneva summit, 1985

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The most striking aspect of the Geneva summit in November 1985 was that it occurred at all. More than six years had passed since the last time the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union had met—in Vienna in 1979—and since then the détente of the 1970s had come completely apart; with crises in Nicaragua, Iran, and the Horn of Africa; the demise of the SALT II arms control treaty; the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; grain and Olympic boycotts in 1980; and dramatic U.S. defense spending increases, first under President Carter and then even more under President Reagan, whose hard-line rhetoric drowned out simultaneous conciliatory gestures like the lifting of the grain embargo.1

On the Soviet side, the leadership had degenerated into a dysfunctional collective of sick, old men, making self-destructive decisions as on Afghanistan and the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe. They were in all probability incapable of responding in kind even had the U.S. sought continued dé...

© Central European University Press, 2016

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