Reagan at Reykjavic – Obama in Syria

Mark Tuminello’s latest blog post –

Thomas Friedman blogged recently about the book ‘Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War.’ The book is by Ken Adelman, the man behind that administration’s arms control agency, an advisor at the 1986 Iceland summit with Gorbachev.

There’s a lot of new information about Reagan in the book. It contains newly declassified documents that shed light on the early stages of an agreement that would eventually lead to a major reduction in nuclear warheads. What Friedman found particularly interesting (and makes this book sound so great) is the way Reagan recognized how different Gorbachev was from other Soviet leaders. Reagan saw potential there when his intelligence team didn’t.

Friedman also takes the opportunity to contrast the world of Reagan with the world of President Obama. While Reagan was facing a ‘Communist superpower that had thousands of nuclear missiles aimed at us!’ Even still, he says, Obama’s world is a much more difficult one. The reason being that Reagan’s enemy was another source of world order. The cold war was fought on creating as much order as possible (communism vs capitalism) and reinforce weaker states around the world to win support.

Today, things are much more complex, less binary. There are many divisions, some of which are regions of disorder. There’s no leader with whom to bargain. In a world where groups of people consider people our enemies, complete with power vacuums, advanced weaponry, and technologically advanced communication, ‘just one needle in a haystack can hurt us.’

Gorbachev was the enemy in the 80s, but he later won a Nobel Peace Prize for peaceably allowing eastern European states become independent. The Islamic State will never win a Nobel. Even the Soviet Union with all its communist differences, it was still a western power. When Reagan faced something similar to what Obama faces now across the middle east, in Lebanon, he saw that there was no fight to win there – only nation building. So we left.

The book sounds great, and Friedman’s comments, while not up everyone’s political alley, are very convincing.

from Mark Tuminello

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