Hyland, William G.
December 1981
Foreign Affairs;1981 Special Issue, Vol. 60 Issue 3
The successive presidents of the United States have usually inherited poor relations with the Soviet Union. In January 1981, the United States president Ronald Reagan found himself in much the same position as his predecessors, except that relations were worse than usual. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was seen by the Reagan Administration primarily as a military menace and only secondarily as an ideological and political adversary. This was because the appeal of the Soviet state as a model for development had long since declined. Each Administration has been skeptical of the prospects for any durable arrangement to restrict, let alone reduce, the level of weapons. Yet, American Presidents and those who seek the office cannot afford to denounce the humane objective of controlling nuclear weapons. The most they can do is to oppose a specific agreement, or insist that much better, safer solutions are possible. As a candidate, Reagan took this course by opposing the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty while insisting that substantial reductions could be achieved provided America began to rearm to impress on Moscow that the alternative to agreement was a severe competition.


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