27 December 2006

Ford dies; Reagan surprise

Former American president Gerald Ford died Tuesday, aged 93.

The guy who made Chevy Chase's career became president with Richard Nixon's resignation. He is generally regarded as a principled, capable president who led the United States through one of the most difficult periods in the country's political history.

In other news, recent scholarship has revealed that Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev came close to completely eliminating their nations' nuclear weapons arnsenals at the Iceland summit in 1986.

The story originally aired on CBC's The Current back in October, but your humble e-scribbler only caught the interviews on Boxing Day. Here's a link to the audio file.

In 1986, some of us were headed to graduate school for more work on defence and foreign policy, so arms control was right at the heart of what we were doing. And yes, some of us felt that while there could and should be dramatic reductions in the size of nuclear arsenals, it was almsot impossible for two countries to reduce to zero unless every country reduced their arsenal to zero at the same time. The issue is a little more complex than either The Current's host and her schollar-guests acknowledge.

Nonetheless, the work they talk about sheds an entirely new perspective on a very important international political event.

It should also help some people to dramatically revise their views. If one prof in particular is still teaching international security and arms control courses at Memorial's political science department, he'll have to go back to the drawing board. One of the favourite demons in his analysis turns out to have been the opposite of the characture he liked to draw.

The Reykjavik Files can be found here at George Washington University's website.