The Last Superpower Summits

23 January 2017 — National Security Archive

New book analyzes detailed transcripts of Gorbachev, Reagan and Bush meetings 1985-1991

Key documents show Thatcher’s endorsement of Gorbachev, Bush’s anxiety about Gorbachev’s popularity, and missed opportunities on arms control, regional conflicts, and European integration 

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 578

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Washington D.C., January 23, 2017 – The historic summit meetings between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and two U.S. presidents, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, built an intensive learning process on both sides that ended the Cold War, but missed numerous other opportunities to make the world safer, according to the new book, The Last Superpower Summits, featured today in the Washington History Seminar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The book’s authors, Svetlana Savranskaya and Thomas Blanton of the National Security Archive, argue that the summit conversations that began at Geneva in 1985 and ended in Madrid in 1991 just before the USSR dissolved, dramatically reduced both sides’ sense of threat but often struggled with Cold War preconceptions that left on the table potential arms control reductions and further solutions to Third World conflicts.  Ultimately, even though the summits achieved unprecedented levels of partnership, their unfinished business left a legacy that helped prevent the integration of the former USSR into Europe.

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THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.

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