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the Italians stepped forward to meet
German desiderata despite the politi-
cal weight of their domestic commu-
nist party.
The first stage of the negotiations
ended on Dec. 12, 1979, when NATO
defense and foreign ministers met in
Brussels to confirm the agreement.
Only then did it become evident that
there wasn’t an agreement. The pro-
ceedings quickly devolved into a
chaotic effort to overcome Belgian
and Dutch demurrals and permit pub-
lication of an official communiqué; it
wasn’t hammered out until mid-
evening. (As a consequence, I cele-
brated my 15th-wedding anniversary
at midnight with chocolates and a bot-
tle of liberated champagne originally
designated for a never-held celebra-
tory vin d’honneur.)
It was now clear that a singular INF
deployment track could never be sold
to European publics. Thus, a parallel
negotiation track became part of the
communiqué package. NATO’s es-
sential negotiation proposal was “zero-
zero”: NATO would not deploy if the
Soviets withdrew or destroyed their
SS-20s. Fat chance.
The NATO proposal was the equiv-
alent of offering to trade a bucket of
ashes for a bucket of diamonds.
Moscow was betting it could break the
questionable unity of the prospective
basing countries because each govern-
ment faced elections prior to INF de-
ployment dates.
Crunch Time
While the various electoral scenar-
ios were being fought out, Washington
began negotiations with Moscow in
November 1981. Led by senior states-
man Paul Nitze, these were ritualized
time-fillers, as both sides advanced
proposals for freezes and reductions
(including Nitze’s famous “walk in the
woods” with his Soviet counterpart).
But the baseline question remained:
would NATO remain unified enough
to carry out actual INF deployments?
At least the American delegation
had time to relax, with flag football
games pitting “INF” against “START”
(Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty). In
one of these encounters, Nitze (then
76) asked for the ball, but the quarter-
back declined, saying that if Nitze
were injured, NATO would collapse,
and he — not Nitze — would suffer
the consequences. Other participants
still remember a party at which the
least salacious element was consuming
an alcoholic beverage from the shoe of
one of the delegation wives. Diplo-
macy can be serious without being dry.
NATO didn’t crumble, even when
the first ground-launched cruise
missiles to arrive in Britain, in No-
vember 1983, generated furious pro-
tests by women from the Greenham
Common Peace Camp. They per-
sisted in demonstrations until 2000 —
nine years after the last of the missiles
had been removed. (Occupy Wall
Street protesters are kindergarteners
in comparison.)
The Soviets ignored the U.K. de-
ployments, but shortly thereafter,
when Pershing IIs arrived in Ger-
many, their delegation walked out.
This was a classic error by Moscow, for
those absent are always wrong. Adroit
NATO commentary pointed up the
Soviet refusal to negotiate as further
rationale for deployments.
Still, Moscow kept pressing, hoping
to break one of the other basing coun-
tries from NATO’s consensus. It was
not until the last of the recipients had
accepted missiles on the ground (and
the West had paid the very substantial
“treasure” and political “cred” to do it)
that the Soviets decided to resume ne-
On March 11, 1985, Mikhail Gor-
bachev was elected general secretary
by the Politboro, three hours after
Konstantin Chernenko’s death. It was
presumably coincidental, but still sig-
nificant, that the arms control negoti-
ations resumed in Geneva the very
next day.
Negotiations with Moscow —
and Washington
The revived INF Treaty process
now had a new leader. Paul Nitze had
retired from the fray and was suc-
ceeded by his deputy, Mike Glitman,
who had been present at the creation
during NATO’s deployment negotia-
tions and the chaotic Dec. 12, 1979,
ministerial. Ambassador Glitman was
imbued with a creative energy that
turned a sometimes-fractious group
into a coherent team focused on get-
ting an agreement that would hit
NATO objectives (e.g., equal missile
levels) with effective verifiability.
That said, the U.S. team’s most dif-
ficult negotiations frequently took
place back in Washington rather than
with the Soviets. Substantial ele-
ments within the Reagan administra-
tion clearly wanted no obtainable
agreement to be reached, and conse-
quently argued for positions such as
“anywhere, anytime” inspections that
were deliberately unrealistic. Imag-
ine Soviet inspectors rummaging
through the White House basement
or commercial laboratories.
For two years, pressure-cooker in-
tensity mounted as we inched toward
agreement. In November 1987, U.S.
and Soviet officials announced that
the treaty was completed — except it
wasn’t. Yes, we agreed on many vital
basics, such as the global elimination
of INF and shorter-range missiles.
But the devil truly was in the details
scattered throughout the text, each of
which extracted its share of anguish
from the negotiators. With delegation
members working 20 hours a day, the
atmosphere was akin to a series of
pre–final exam college “all-nighters.”
While our commitment to com-
pleting the agreement was absolute,
equally absolute was a commitment to
letting the treaty fail rather than end-
ing up with an unworkable or unrati-
fiable text. Epitomizing this attitude
was a photograph of the “delegation
in exile” with bags over their heads in
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