Thursday, March 26, 2009

U.S., Russia Push 'Reset'; Cold War Distrust Remains

While most of the industrialized world prepares to fix the world's economy next week in London, an important geopolitical sideshow will be taking place when the U.S. and Russia discuss an old Cold War sticking point.

With the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) due to expire this December, old diplomatic ploys and negotiations are returning to the table while both sides have retained suspicions of each other's intentions. Back in 1982, President Reagan presented the then-Soviet Union with an offer to reduce the number of strategic nuclear weapons pointed at each other. The beginnings of the START suffered many starts and stops during the 1980s. The treaty was not signed until 1991.

The Bush Administration's announcement late last year to install weapons interceptors in Poland and radar capabilities in the Czech Republic -- two former members of the Iron Curtain -- is reminiscent of an earlier tactic engineered in 1983 when Reagan announced plans for a Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as "Star Wars". The Soviets perceived it as a threat, even though the plan's feasibility and cost was widely questioned. The presence of SDI and, in hindsight, last-ditch efforts by the dying Soviet empire to show strength were a few of the reasons the agreement took nine years to ratify...

Read the rest of this article at the Commonwealth Club blog. Click here.

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