Highlight of 1985: summitry. Superpowers began major phase of postwar ties
The year 1985 in world affairs has been dominated by the second attempt of the two superpowers of this age to find out whether they can live in the same world without going to war with each other. The year opened with the foreign ministers of the two, George Shultz for the United States and Andrei Gromyko for the Soviet Union, meeting in Geneva. The high moment of the year came in the same city 10 months later when their principals, President Reagan and the new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, came together from Nov. 19 to 22 for what turned into almost an orgy of superficial camaraderie, but of still-unweighed substance.Skip to next paragraph
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The process of getting to the summit occupied almost the entire year. It undoubtedly marked the beginning of a third major phase in the relationship of the two superpowers since World War II.
The first phase dated from the Truman Doctrine of 1947 down to 1972. President Nixon made twin trips in 1972, first to Peking, then to Moscow.
Those trips ended the first ``cold war'' and ushered in the first ``d'etente.'' That, in turn, was undermined by a buildup in Soviet weaponry and finally drowned out by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the end of 1979.
The span of time between 1979 and 1984 was a second ``cold war'' marked by trade boycotts, a massive buildup of United States arms and steady counterbarrages of rhetorical abuse and invective. By the beginning of 1984, the atmosphere was so tense that almost everyone was getting worried to the point that the leaders of the two superpowers made speeches which in effect called for a parley.
It took all of 1984 just to get from those first calls to parley to the first real and serious opening of negotiation. This year saw the beginning in a Shultz-Gromyko meeting in Geneva in January. Since then the record shows how gradual was the progress from the opening meeting on Jan. 7-9 to the summit in November. Here is the chronology of intermediate steps.
Jan. 26. The US and Soviet Union announce a decision to reopen arms control talks.
April 7. Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet leader in office only a month, announces that he is suspending the deployment of more Soviet intermediate range missiles.
April 17. Mr. Gorbachev proposes suspension of nuclear testing.
May 14. Secretary Shultz and Foreign Minister Gromyko again meet in Vienna.
July 2. Eduard Shevardnadze replaces Gromyko as Soviet foreign minister in Moscow and it is announced that agreement has been reached for a summit to be held in Geneva Nov. 19-20.
Sept. 27. Foreign Minister Shevardnadze meets with President Reagan at the White House in Washington.
Sept. 30. The Soviets propose a mutual reduction of 50 percent in offensive strategic weapons.
One further fact has perhaps been more important than the surface signs of the gradual groping of the superpowers back into a dialogue: the relative tolerance for each other and negotiations about many individual matters.
Neither the US nor the Soviet Union has made what could be called a forward or offensive move against something deemed vital by the other. Afghanistan was Moscow's last offensive venture. Moscow has stood on the defensive everywhere else since then. Grenada was Washington's last act of overt muscle flexing.