Charles Krauthammer on Russian negotiations, 1989:Uncharacteristically, the hard-liners have it wrong. They are upset that President Bush gave away the store at Malta, dubbed "the Doormat Summit" by one critic. What happened? At the summit Bush went from interested spectator to Gorbachev partner. He pre-emptively recalled all instruments of economic war (such as punitive tariffs) against the Soviet Union. He approved its symbolic entry into the West's economic system (observer status in the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs). He gave Mikhail Gorbachev and perestroika a political blessing to match the Pope's.He gave these concessions before having received anything in return. No commitment to real economic reform. No pledges of good behavior in Central America. "Will someone tell me," asked a pained Richard Viguerie, "how it is in the interests of the free world to save this failed, fatally flawed system?"The answer is simple: It is in the highest interest of the free world to save, to whatever extent we can, Gorbachev, because Gorbachev - not the withholding of GATT membership or squeezing the Soviets on Central America - is the key to burying this failed, fatally flawed system.The hard-liners are missing the big picture. Their hearts are in the right place - ice - but they have the tactics wrong. The terminal phase of the Cold War, as any war, should be focused on the center, not the periphery. The periphery was the major battleground when the center was untouchable. No longer.It is true that the Soviets are still acting duplicitously in Central America, still trying to hang on to Afghanistan. But these are peripheral issues....Vice President Quayle complains that Gorbachev's top national-security advisers are still hard-line. He misses the point. We are far beyond caring about intentions. Events have outrun intentions.Gee, I wonDeR wheRe the big DiffeRence is in Diplomatic stRategy?
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