19 December 2016 — National Security Archive
Gorbachev offered arms race in reverse; Reagan recommended quiet on human rights; Bush sounded very encouraging in 1987 but the 1989 pause interrupted progress
The Last Superpower Summits publishes virtually every word Reagan, Gorbachev and Bush said to each other from 1985 through 1991
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 573
Washington D.C., December 18, 2016 – Previously secret transcripts of the summit meetings between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev from 1985 to 1988, and then George H.W. Bush with Gorbachev from 1989 through 1991, show the Soviet leader pursuing an arms race in reverse, Reagan recommending quiet dialogue on human rights, and Bush seeking new nuclear weapons before coming around to cuts at the end, according to a new book published this month by the National Security Archive and Central European University Press.
The culmination of 20 years of research, The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush: The Conversations that Ended the Cold War amasses for the first time in print virtually every word the Soviet and U.S. leaders said to each other in their summits from 1985 to 1991. The authors, Svetlana Savranskaya and Thomas Blanton of the National Security Archive, obtained these formerly Secret and Top Secret transcripts through the Freedom of Information Act in the U.S., from the Gorbachev Foundation and the State Archive of the Russian Federation in Moscow, and from the personal donation of Gorbachev adviser Anatoly Chernyaev.
The book combines the summit transcripts with key declassified preparatory and after-action documents from both sides to create a unique interactive documentary record of these historic highest-level talks – conversations that ended the Cold War. The authors argue, in contextual essays on each summit and in detailed headnotes for each document, that the summits fueled a process of learning on both sides. Geneva 1985 and Reykjavik 1986 reduced Moscow’s sense of threat and unleashed Reagan’s inner abolitionist. Malta 1989 and Washington 1990 helped dampen any superpower sparks that might have flown in a time of revolutionary change in Eastern Europe, set off by Gorbachev and by Eastern Europeans including Polish Solidarity, dissidents, and reform Communists.
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