The Height Of Irresponsibility | Sojourners

The Height Of Irresponsibility

For a few days recently President Reagan's budget-cutting plan and the war in El Salvador were edged out of the headlines by a new round of developments in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. It all began when Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev decided to counter the increasingly tough Cold War rhetoric of the U.S. with the one kind of Soviet threat that Ronald Reagan and Alexander Haig don't know how to deal with. He threatened to negotiate.

Brezhnev's "threat" came in his speech at the Soviet Party Congress in late February and was repeated in a series of articles in the Soviet press and in a personal letter to all the western European heads of state. In these statements Brezhnev called for a summit meeting between himself and Reagan, the reopening of the SALT talks, and a moratorium on the deployment of new medium-range missiles in Europe.

All of Brezhnev's proposals reflected Soviet self-interest. The Soviet economy cannot afford to keep up with another major round of military escalation, and at a time when events in Poland and Afghanistan have the USSR standing very low in world opinion there is a great deal of propaganda value to be had in appearing to be the superpower that wants peace. But even assuming the worst about Brezhnev's intentions, the Reagan administration's non-response has been disturbing.

Reagan has flatly rejected the call for a summit, saying that any such meeting could only be held after the Soviets change their policies regarding Afghanistan, Poland, Africa, and Central America.

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