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Gorbachev writes: "I am making an appeal to the presidents of Russia and the United States. Relations between the two nations are in a severe crisis. A way out must be sought, and there is one well-tested means available for accomplishing this: a dialogue based on mutual respect."

President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at a signing ceremony for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in the White House on Dec. 8, 1987. (photo: Barry Thumma/AP)
President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at a signing ceremony for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in the White House on Dec. 8, 1987. (photo: Barry Thumma/AP)

My Plea to Trump and Putin

By Mikhail Gorbachev, The Washington Post

11 October 17

Mikhail Gorbachev was leader of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991.

his December will mark the 30th anniversary of the signing of the treaty between the Soviet Union and United States on the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles. This was the start of the process of radically cutting back nuclear arsenals, which was continued with the 1991 and 2010 strategic arms reduction treaties and the agreements reducing tactical nuclear weapons.

The scale of the process launched in 1987 is evidenced by the fact that, as Russia and the United States reported to the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2015, 80 percent of the nuclear weapons accumulated during the Cold War have been decommissioned and destroyed. Another important fact is that, despite the recent serious deterioration in bilateral relations, both sides have been complying with the strategic weapons agreements.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, however, is now in jeopardy. It has proved to be the most vulnerable link in the system of limiting and reducing weapons of mass destruction. There have been calls on both sides for scrapping the agreement.

So what is happening, what is the problem, and what needs to be done?

Both sides have raised issues of compliance, accusing the other of violating or circumventing the treaty’s key provisions. From the sidelines, lacking fuller information, it is difficult to evaluate those accusations. But one thing is clear: The problem has a political as well as a technical aspect. It is up to the political leaders to take action.

Therefore I am making an appeal to the presidents of Russia and the United States.

Relations between the two nations are in a severe crisis. A way out must be sought, and there is one well-tested means available for accomplishing this: a dialogue based on mutual respect.

It will not be easy to cut through the logjam of issues on both sides. But neither was our dialogue easy three decades ago. It had its critics and detractors, who tried to derail it.

In the final analysis, it was the political will of the two nations’ leaders that proved decisive. And that is what’s needed now. This is what our two countries’ citizens and people everywhere expect from the presidents of Russia and the United States.

I call upon Russia and the United States to prepare and hold a full-scale summit on the entire range of issues. It is far from normal that the presidents of major nuclear powers meet merely “on the margins” of international gatherings. I hope that the process of preparing a proper summit is in the works even now.

I believe that the summit meeting should focus on the problems of reducing nuclear weapons and strengthening strategic stability. For should the system of nuclear arms control collapse, as may well happen if the INF Treaty is scrapped, the consequences, both direct and indirect, will be disastrous.

The closer that nuclear weapons are deployed to borders, the more dangerous they are: There is less time for a decision and greater risk of catastrophic error. And what will happen to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if the nuclear arms race begins anew? I am afraid it will be ruined.

If, however, the INF Treaty is saved, it will send a powerful signal to the world that the two biggest nuclear powers are aware of their responsibility and take their obligations seriously. Everyone will breathe a sigh of relief, and relations between Russia and the United States will finally get off the ground again.

I am confident that preparing a joint presidential statement on the two nations’ commitment to the INF Treaty is a realistic goal. Simultaneously, the technical issues could also be resolved; for this purpose, the joint control commission under the INF Treaty could resume its work. I am convinced that, with an impetus from the two presidents, the generals and diplomats would be able to reach agreement.

We are living in a troubled world. It is particularly disturbing that relations between the major nuclear powers, Russia and the United States, have become a serious source of tensions and a hostage to domestic politics. It is time to return to sanity. I am sure that even inveterate opponents of normalizing U.S.-Russian relations will not dare to object to the two presidents. These critics have no arguments on their side, for the very fact that the INF Treaty has been in effect for 30 years proves that it serves the security interests of our two countries and of the world.

In any undertaking, it is important to take the first step. In 1987, the first step in the difficult but vitally important process of ridding the world of nuclear weapons was the INF Treaty. Today, we face a dual challenge of preventing the collapse of the system of nuclear agreements and reversing the downward spiral in U.S.-Russian relations. It is time to take the first step. your social media marketing partner


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+39 # librarian1984 2017-10-11 15:30
Thank you, sane Mr. Gorbachev.

Obviously the neocons and neoliberals will be very much against any step toward rapprochement, not when their plans for Cold War 2.0 are going SO swimmingly.

Let's watch and see what the reaction is. Any guesses?
+25 # Glen 2017-10-12 07:23
My guess is that the subject will not be discussed publicly. After visiting a number of countries who understood Gorbachev put a stop to the invasion of their country, I came to understand why he was affectionately called Gorby. Our revered leader does not appreciate the advice of anyone, most especially and outsider.
-4 # RMF 2017-10-12 13:08
Great respect for Gorby, but he is voicing a spurious concern in this piece.

Relations between Russia and Trump-USA couldn't be better; after all, Russian intelligence agencies were instrumental in installing Trump in the WH. And now the Trump administration, along with GOP members of Congress, are very grateful for that bestowed benefit. (Has Gorby forgotten that one of Trump's first invitees to the White House were high-level Russian officials.)

Given the shift to oligarch-style fascism in both the US and Russia, an arms buildup serves the interests of both nations, but not for the same reasons.
+2 # Glen 2017-10-13 08:39
RMF I suspect there is more brewing that what the public is aware of. It is possible that Gorbachev knows of all you state, but is concerned about possible alliances and plans being concocted by Trump and Putin, et al. Of course, we now know there is more tit for tat than between Trump and Putin. Gorbachev just might be warning that an alliance between the two countries just might mean increased protection from outside enemies.

Trump, however has no real grasp of a wider world beyond his addled outlook. Ultimately, Gorbachev will be proven correct if Trump cannot collect diplomatic attitudes and understanding.
+16 # sbessho 2017-10-11 20:05
Mutual respect? From Trump? Good luck with that one. It would be nice, but so would a unicorn ranch. Trump's only approach to international relations is to look for how he can personally financially benefit. He sees no use for diplomacy and will only do what Putin wants because Putin holds the key to Trump's Russian real estate projects--or because Putin has the pee tape.
+19 # jwb110 2017-10-12 00:40
The neocons and neoliberals are the same people. There is no real mitigating force to create real dialogue. The present executive branch has no statesmanship and will not risk losing more of its perceived base. The present Russian leader is yet another petty despot bent on controlling and increasing the perception of Russia as a power equal to all others. That is the recipe for the world getting back into an arms race. I see no real statesmen in either government or in any branches of those governments. The one thing that Russia has going for it is that Putin has managed to not divide the country against itself save for the usual attacks on Russian minorities as a way to give his nation something to hate. It is the same hate mongering as goes on in this country but on a much smaller scale. There is a strong history of "Mother Russia". The equivalent of that doesn't not exist in the US. Right now it is in vogues to stir up all groups to hate all other groups. The Russians know what it means to need the fabric of their society to be strong. The US has long since forgotten any vestige of that same lesson.
I have always liked Gorbachev. I thought he got a bum-deal in the aftermath of tearing down the Iron Curtain and opening up Russia to the World. I also agree with most everything he said. It is possible but not with the two men who would have to sit down and do the actual work. The inmates are running the asylum.
+14 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-10-12 01:55
No dialogue is going to occur. A dialogue requires two participants. Trump is not capable of participating. Ergo - no dialogue. 30 years ago a dialogue occurred because both Reagan and Gorbachev wanted the increase of nuclear arms to stop. They both knew the end result would in all probability be catastrophic. Today, although Putin might be convinced to set aside his prejudices and sit down to discuss “the entire range of issues”, that is not possible with Trump.

The problem with Trump is that he has no concern, no philosophy, no external guiding principles. Although his actions appear quixotic and mercurial, he is actually quite constant and consistent… to his inner, flawed psyche. His goal is always the same: attempt whatever seems most likely to benefit me right now.

In a 09-Oct-2017 Politico story,* “Publicly, the White House has pushed back against Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker's suggestion that Trump must be managed like a toddler” “But interviews with 10 current and former administration officials… describe a process in which they try to install guardrails for a president who goes on gut feeling — and many days are spent managing the president, just as Corker said.”

+6 # bardphile 2017-10-12 10:31
Gorbachev will be regarded a hundred years from now as one of the greatest statesman of the 20th Century--that is, if we're still around for such judgments to be made. The US and Russia (USSR) were once allies, with the Russians shouldering the greater share of the burden; we can / should/ must be allies again, or at least learn to cooperate. Trump owes a lot (how much, we don't yet know) to Russia and Putin, and that might not be bad as we wait for new leadership.
+7 # krazykwiltkatt 2017-10-12 18:08
'A dialogue based on mutual respect' No matter what our differences, we must begin by looking at our commonalities and finding good things in each other. The world is too small, the crises is too advanced to waste time on hostilities.
0 # Aliazer 2017-10-14 12:47
I am sorry to say it, although sincere and knowledgeable on these issues, Mr Gorbachev has no chance whatever in seeing Russia and U. S. ever coming together!!

The U. S. is completely entrapped by globalists interests, is totally committed in dominating the world, including Russia. They care not one wit about diplomacy, peace,etc... They only care about global power and control,under the guise of "National Interests", while accusing so called "Nationalists" of xenophobia.

Short of instituting some form of purifying guillotine this disease will never go away!!
-1 # Michael Morrissey 2017-10-14 15:43
This is still accessible on the WaPo website only to paid subscribers, and except for RSN I have seen no other sites that have carried it. I think it is being purposely suppressed as part of the anti-Russian propaganda campaign that the CIA/MSM has been running for more than a year.

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