You are hereHIS-Azrael-Sestanovich-1985


Doc Type: 
Historical Study
Azrael, Jeremy and Seastanovic, Stephen
Full Title: 
Superpower Balancing Acts
Language Type: 

(Summary by Holly Decker, Harriman Institute, Columbia University)

               The article “Superpower Balancing Acts” discusses the events of the Geneva Summit and its results. Authors Azrael and Sestanovich discuss the implications of the 50% reduction proposal that had originally been presented by Shevardnadze to Shultz. The proposal had included the complete cancelation of the proposed SDI. It was accompanied by rhetoric from the Soviet premier which linked the success of the Geneva Summit to the United States’ abandonment of SDI. The authors argue that the proposal itself had too many items that were contrary to U.S. interest for the United States to have taken it without serious modification.

               In regards to the Summit itself, the authors argue that the resulting agreements favored neither position but were acceptable to both because they were easily integrated into each actors’ foreign policy objectives. In the aftermath of the summit, both sides engaged the media in an effort to justify the lack of an arms control agreement, as well as convince their respective citizens that they had not weakened their respective positions vis-à-vis the other. The intangible results of the Summit were renewed confidence in cooperation. The official rhetoric in the aftermath of the summit was viewed as less contentious. This, according to the authors, is exemplified by the change in Gorbachev’s rhetoric regarding SDI as problematic rather than a deal breaker, a position he had taken prior to the Summit. For the authors, this was an optimistic sign, suggesting that the Soviet initiatives were flexible.