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Ronald Reagan  Yuri Andropov

In The Beginning were the words

"They are the focus of evil in the modern world." Ronald Reagan
March 8, l983

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"They violate elementary norms of decency." Yuri Andropov
September 28, 1983

In the beginning were the words. At the top, verbal missiles
fired in magisterial wrath: Ronald Reagan denouncing the
Soviet Union as an "evil empire" that has committed "a crime
against humanity" when its fighters shot down a Korean jetliner;
Yuri Andropov responding that the Reagan Administration had
"finally dispelled" all "illusions" that it could be dealt with.
At a baser level, crude vilification: American caricatures of
Andropov as a "mutant from outer space"; Soviet comparisons of
Reagan to Adolf Hitler.

After the words, the walkouts. "Everything is finished!"
Soviet Negotiator Yuli Kvitsinsky proclaimed, as he stomped out
of a meeting with his U.S.counterpart, Paul Nitze. Four days
later, the U.S.S.R. broke off the Geneva INF (Intermediate-range
Nuclear Forces) talks on limiting missiles in Europe. The U.S.
"would still like to launch a decapitating nuclear first
strike," Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov, the Soviet armed forces Chief
of Staff, charged at a remarkable news conference, as he rapped
a long metal pointer against a wall chart showing U.S. and
Soviet nuclear arsenals.

By year's end the Kremlin let two other negotiations drift into
limbo. It refused to set a date for resuming either the Geneva
START talks on reducing the numbers of long-range nuclear
weapons or the decade-long Vienna bargaining on cutting
conventional forces in Europe. The suspensions left the
superpowers for the first time in fourteen years with no
arms-control talks of any kind in progress and with even regular
diplomatic contacts frosty.

Now, in the silence, come the missiles, no longer metaphorical
but physical and nuclear. U.S. Pershing IIs, looking
incongruously toylike with their bright red and yellow stripes,
being deployed in West Germany. In Britain and Italy, Tomahawk
cruise missiles, sleek, innocent-looking and small enough to fit
into a pickup truck, all targeted on the Soviet Union. On the
other side, Soviet mobile rockets going into Czechoslovakia and
East Germany, aimed at U.S. allies in Europe. Tomorrow,
perhaps, Soviet depressed-trajectory ballistic missiles on
submarines off America's Atlantic shores, capable of hitting
Washington as rapidly as the Pershing IIs could strike, say,
Minsk: twelve to fifteen minutes after firing.

Following the missiles, fear and alarm. "The second cold ware
has begun," shrilled the Italian weekly Panorama. French
President Francois Mitterrand warned that the situation was
comparable in gravity with the Cuban missile crises of 1962 or
the Berlin blockade of 1948-49. American Sovietologist Seweryn
Bialer, who has just returned from Moscow, where he had
extensive interviews with Soviet officials, observes that "a
test is coming between the superpowers. The Soviets are
frustrated, angry. They have to reassert their manhood, to
regain the influence in the international arena that today only
America enjoys."

And always, growing in intensity throughout the year, came the
horrifying pictures of the apocalypse that war in the nuclear
age would mean. Astronomer Carl Sagan and Biologist Paul
Ehrlich warned a sober scientific conclave in Washington that
the detonation of less than half the megatons in U.S. and Soviet
arsenals could send up a cloud of smoke and dust that would
block out the sun's light, producing a "nuclear winter" of death
from freezing and starvation. Some 100 million Americans
watched The Day After, a frightful TV visualization of nuclear
blast, fire and radiation.* In Western Europe, demonstrations
against the missiles made up in hysteria for anything they might
have lacked in numbers. Hundreds of thousands of peace marchers
paraded in West Germany, some wearing mourning clothes or
displaying faces painted white to resemble death masks.
Hundreds of women chained themselves to the fence at Greenham
Common airbase in Britain to protest the unloading of U.S.
cruise missiles in tarpaulin-draped cartons from giant
droop-winged transport planes.

What could happen, of course, is by no means what necessarily,
or even probably, will happen. The U.S. and the Soviet Union
have not reached The Day Before the missiles fly. Indeed,
Washington and Moscow share in a keen apprehension not only of
the terrible power of their nuclear weapons but also the danger
that any shooting at all between their forces could conceivably
bring those weapons into use. For all their angry rhetoric, the
two superpowers have been extraordinarily careful to avoid any
direct military confrontation.

Still, there is grave danger: if not of war tomorrow, then of
a long period of angry immobility in superpower relations; of
an escalating arms race bringing into U.S. and Soviet arsenals
weapons ever more expensive and difficult to control; of rising
tension that might make every world trouble spot a potential
flash point for the clash both sides fear. The deterioration
of U.S.-Soviet relations to that frozen impasse overshadowed all
other events of 1983. In shaping plans for the future, every
statesman in the world and very nearly every private citizen has
to calculate what may come of the face-off between the countries
whose leaders--one operating in full public view, the other as
a mysterious presence hidden by illness--share the power to
decide whether there will be any future at all. Those leaders,
Presidents Ronald Wilson Reagan of the United States and Yuri
Vladimirovich Andropov of the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics, are TIME's Men of the Year.

Certainly there were other momentous developments, and other
protagonists and antagonists, on the world stage in 1983. In
the U.S., it was a year of movement--dynamic, puzzling or
both--in the economy and politics. Production and income rose
and unemployment fell, all more rapidly than almost any
economists or business leaders had dared to hope at the end of
the frightening 1981-82 recession. The inflation rate dropped
lower than it had been since 1972. Federal Judge Harold Greene
supervised the final breakup of the world's largest corporation,
AT&T.

Eight Democrats hit the hustings for their party's 1984
presidential nomination. Vice President Walter Mondale had
built an imposing lead over Space Hero John Glenn in the race
to take on Reagan, who set Jan. 29 as the date for an
announcement that will stun the world only if it is not an
official declaration of his candidacy for re-election.

Overseas, a familiar and often scowling face was removed from
the ranks of world leaders. Menachem Begin, worn by illness
and disheartened by the death of his wife, resigned a Prime
Minister of Israel and was succeeded by his Foreign Minister,
Yitzhak Shamir. Other leaders consolidated their power.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and West German
Chancellor Helmut Kohl led their conservative parties to huge
electoral victories, Thatcher's Tories triumphing by the biggest
British landslide since 1945. Pope John Paul II made moving
pilgrimages to war-torn Central America and to Poland, where
crowds of a million turned out daily to receive the native-born
Pontiff's blessings.

Revolutionary terrorism and religious fanaticism shed more
blood in the Third World, and this time some of the blood was
American. U.S. troops went into combat for the first time since
1975, invading the tiny Caribbean Island of Grenada and
overturning a clique of hard-line Marxists who had murdered
Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, a milder Marxist. Suicide truck
bombers, presumably Islamic Shi'ite zealots who share Iranian
Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini's belief that the U.S. is the "the
Great Satan," blew up the American embassies in Lebanon and
Kuwait, as well as the headquarters of the U.S. Marine peace
keeping force at the Beirut airport, a shocking attack that
killed 241 U.S. servicemen.

But the U.S.-Soviet rivalry colored, when it did not dominate,
nearly all these seemingly disconnected events. Thatcher and
Kohl defeated opponents who had made the acceptance of American
missile emplacements a major issue. In the U.S., Democrats are
decrying what they view as Reagan's excessively hard-line policy
toward the Soviets. Even the Pope's travels were overshadowed
by new, although inclusive, evidence that Mehmet Ali Agca, the
Turkish terrorist who shot the Pope in 1981, had been aided by
the Bulgarian secret service, presumably backed by the Soviet
KGB--which was at the time headed by Andropov.

Violence in the Caribbean Basin and the Middle East brought the
superpower confrontation into still sharper focus. The
invasion of Grenada, Reagan claimed, prevented Marxists from
turning that island into a Soviet-Cuban colony. Elsewhere in
the region, however, no such quick or decisive victory for
Administration policy seemed in sight. U.S. aid to the
conservative government of El Salvador in its fight against a
leftist insurrection, and to the contra rebels battling the
Marxist-led government of Nicaragua, did little more than
sustain grim guerrilla wars. Just a the U.S. did after the 1979
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the imposition of martial law
in Poland in 1981, the Soviet Union volubly denounce the U.S.
moves but did not so much as hint at military action in
retaliation. This underlined a rule of U.S.- Soviet competition
that neither side will ever acknowledge publicly: each has a
sphere of interest that the other respects.

In the deadly quagmire of the Middle East, the spheres did
collide. The bombing of the U.S. Marines apparently was carried
out by terrorists striking from portions of Lebanon occupied by
Soviet- armed Syria. Unable to bring about a Syrian withdrawal
by diplomatic pressure, the U.S. at year's end was trying to
forge a closer alliance with Israel. In December, a U.S. naval
armada off Lebanon sent carrier-based planes to strike Syrian
antiaircraft batteries that had fired on an American
reconnaissance flight; two planes were shot down, the first
fighter-bombers lost to enemy fire since the U.S. stopped raids
in Viet Nam. That raised the chilling prospect of U.S. air
strikes' killing some of the almost 6,000 Soviet technicians who
are manning Syrian ground-to-air missile sites. But both
superpowers are sharply aware of the peril and are conducting
quiet ambassadorial exchanges on how to avoid such consequences.

Thus almost anywhere one might try to unravel the tangled evens
of 1983, the skein leads quickly to two figures: Reagan and
Andropov. Fittingly so. As Chiefs of State of the prime nuclear
powers, they symbolize some of the stark differences in U.S. and
Soviet values and political systems that make the
Washington-Moscow competition so intractable.

To stay that they are a study in contrasts is to put it most
mildly. The two leaders are of comparable age. Reagan will
turn 73 in February; Andropov will be 70 in June. Apart from
having their fingers in the nuclear button, they share one
other similarity: Reagan has never been inside the Communist
world and Andropov has never been outside it. Otherwise, they
differ in almost every way.

Reagan is the Great Communicator, a genial performer before
audiences of one sort or another since college days, master of
the one-line quip, a man who entered politics in early middle
age after winning fame in that all-American institution
Hollywood. He rose to the presidency largely because he was
able to articulate a personal ideological view on television
more forcefully than anyone else. Andropov is the consummate
Communist Party operative, a nearly faceless toiler in the
political establishment of the U.S.S.R. all his adult life, head
for 15 years of that quintessentially Soviet organization the
KGB, a man who attained power by sophisticated backstage
maneuvering in the ingrown, secretive Politburo.

In office, Reagan has become as vivid a figure to millions
around the world as he has long been to U.S. citizens,
dominating TV screens not only domestically but at time
internationally. Andropov has become very nearly a ghost. He
has been ill for much of his single year as Party Secretary and
has been absent from public view since Aug. 18. He is suffering
from a kidney ailment and is rumored variously to have diabetes
and pneumonia. Though diplomats believe that Andropov has
visited his office several times recently and is working daily
at home or in a hospital bed, he has for months presented
himself to the world only as a signature affixed to statements
issued in his name.

There is a compelling reason for him to reappear at key
meetings of the Party Central Committee and the Supreme Soviet
this week: his continued absence would signal physical weakness
that could have substantial political consequences, including
Politburo discussions as to whether he is strong enough to stay
on the job. On the other hand, if the truth is that Andropov is
simply continuing to recover from a debilitating illness, his
failure to appear would have far less meaning. Few things
underline the difference between the U.S. and Soviet political
systems so strikingly as the contrast between the regular,
detailed medical bulletins the White House issued after Reagan
was hit by a would-be assassin's bullet in March 1981 and the
current statements by Kremlin officials to an unbelieving world
that Andropov's ailment is nothing more than "a severe cold."

Personal contact between the two Presidents has so far been
limited to messages that TIME has learned they exchanged in 1983
(how many, no one will say). They are unlikely to lay eyes on
each other soon, or perhaps ever. Even if Andropov's health
would permit a summit meeting in the coming months, the
political climate probably will not.

For Americans, Andropov is still a puzzle, and not only because
of the mystery surrounding his health. When he speaks on
Soviet- American relations, it is as the voice of an entrenched
Kremlin bureaucracy. His personal opinions of the U.S., and
indeed whether he has any that are distinguishable from the
general view in Moscow, can only be conjectured. The Soviets
emphatically do not have that problem with Reagan. The
President's beliefs about the U.S.S.R., its leaders and their
philosophy are in no doubt.

Reagan began forming those views shortly after World War II.
When he left military service and resumed his civilian acting
career, he was a liberal Democrat on domestic issues; he had
never thought much about world affairs. The decisive experience
for him was the Hollywood labor wars of the late 1940s. As a
board member of the Screen Actors Build, Reagan tried without
success to help mediate a bitter jurisdictional dispute between
SAG and the Conference of Studio Unions. He became convinced
that the dispute had been tormented by Communists who were
trying to take over the U.S. movie industry on Moscow's direct
orders. After he had led non- striking actors across picket
lines,, Reagan received a threatening phone call. Thinking his
life was in danger from Communists, he took to carrying a gun
to ward off attackers. More than 30 years later he still talks
about that period with a passion that he believes Moscow
reciprocates. Asked on the eve of his election how he thought
he was viewed by the Soviet leaders, Reagan responded, "You see,
they remember back, I guess, [to] those union days when we had
a domestic Communist problem. I was very definitely on the
wrong side for them."

As the cold war began and Reagan became a spokesman for General
Electric after his movie career fizzled, he also underwent a
conversion to conservatism; his views became definitely
anti-Soviet as well as anti-Communist. He came to see the
Kremlin's leaders as thugs and bullies who tried ceaselessly to
stir up trouble around the world. During the 1980 campaign, he
said there would be no "hot spots" if it were not for the
Soviets; they would back down if, and only if, they were
confronted with force.

Since becoming President, Reagan has kept up the Rhetoric,
modulating it only slightly. As wielder of a nuclear arsenal
and head of an alliance whose members often worry about how the
U.S. might use its awesome power, he has spoken frequently of
the necessity of trying to negotiate agreements with the
Soviets. But his private distrust and animosity keep breaking
through into his public utterances. In his first news
conference as President, he said of the Kremlin leaders that,
following stated Marxist doctrine, "the only morality they
recognize is that will further their cause, meaning they reserve
unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to
cheat." In a sermon-like address to evangelical Christians in
Orlando, Fla., early in l983, he called the Soviets "the focus
of evil in the modern world" and the prime example of "sin and
evil" that "we are enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to
oppose... with all our might."

At times, too, Reagan has talked of the Soviet Union as a
Phenomenon tat a resolute West could cause to disappear. In a
1982 speech to the British Parliament, he borrowed a phrase that
the Bolsheviks had used against their opponents and predicted
that Soviet Marxism would wind up on "the ash heap of history."
Speaking at a Notre Dame commencement in 1981, and again to
evangelicals last March, he called Marxism-Leninism a "bizarre
chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being
written."

Moreover, Reagan's closest aides say he consistently speaks
exactly this way in private. At one National Security Council
meeting in September 1982, Reagan advised Negotiator Nitze on
a way to present an American position in the Geneva INF talks
that both men knew the U.S.S.R. would find unacceptable. Said
he: "Well, Paul, you just tell the Soviets that you're working
for one tough son of a bitch."

The Soviets initially did not believe that Reagan meant what he
said. In 1980 they actually seemed to welcome his election.
They had by then become fervent members of the
Anybody-but-Jimmy-Carter Club, voicing criticism that might have
been taken from Reagan's campaign speeches: Carter was so
vacillating and unpredictable that no one ever knew what he
might do. Moscow at that point viewed Reagan as a standard
Republican conservative whose more strident anti-Soviet
proclamations were just campaign oratory. The Soviets recalled
that Richard Nixon had won political prominence by talking stern
anti-Communism, but in the White House turned into the prime
American architect of U.S.Soviet detente.

Shortly after Reagan took office, though, the Soviets concluded
that they had been wrong about him. Americans often remark
that Reagan's bark has been worse than his bite. After all, he
lifted the embargo that Carter had clamped on U.S. grain sales
to the Soviet Union following the invasion of Afghanistan and
proposed only mild and ineffectual economic sanctions in
response to the imposition of martial law in Poland. But the
Soviets have come to take Reagan at his word. Says a Kremlin
specialist on American affairs: "With Carter, it was always
interesting to read a speech and say, 'Aha, [former Secretary
of State] Cyrus Vance wrote this one' or 'Here's a paragraph
from [Carter's National Security Adviser] Zbigniew Brezezinski.'
But we have done what you might call content analysis of
Reagan's statements over the past couple of years, and we feel
quite sure that the man speaking was Reagan." To Soviet ears,
the President seems not only to be denying the U.S.S.R.'s
coveted claim to equal status with the U.S. as a superpower, but
even challenging its right to exist as a legitimate state.

In particular, Reagan's $1.6 trillion military buildup has
shocked the Soviets. To American,s that reaction might seem
sheer hypocrisy. Nothing did more to destroy detente than the
Kremlin's insistence throughout the 1970s on piling up weapons
far in excess of any legitimate Soviet defensive needs. During
the decade the U.S.S.R. put in place thousands of nuclear
missiles and expanded its oceangoing war fleet while increasing
its already massive superiority over the NATO countries in tanks
and artillery. Any U.S. President elected in 1980 would have
had to continue and enlarge the counter buildup that Carter had
already begun.

The cloistered nature of the top Kremlin leadership singularly
handicaps its members in judging how their actions look to non-
Soviet eyes. To them, Reagan's plans appear to envisage a
restoration of the nuclear superiority the U.S. enjoyed during
the 1950s and '60s. His arms control proposals seem to be
designed only to placate European public opinion while codifying
that supremacy. George Arbatov, one of Moscow's chief experts
on U.S. affairs, charges that "the Reagan Administration
returned to Geneva not to find an agreement but to relive the
pressure [from the peace movement] and, frankly, to fool the
people." As to Reagan's rhetoric, Anatoli Dobrynin, Soviet
Ambassador to the U.S., says: "Words are deeds."

Andropov has put much less of a personal stamp on foreign
policy, and on the minds of his adversaries, and on the minds
of his adversaries, than Reagan. Not only was he a somewhat
unknown figure to those outside the Kremlin even before illness
removed him from public view, but some of what the West thought
it knew about him was wrong. The picture of Andropov as a
Westernized intellectual, fond of American music and books, that
circulated widely in the months before he assumed power
following the death of Leonid Brezhnev in November 1982 was
mostly the product of wishful thinking, possibly aided by
deliberate Kremlin disinformation. He does, however, have a
reputation as the best informed and most sophisticated Soviet
leader since Lenin. Western diplomats who visited him in Moscow
early in his tenure were impressed by his command of facts and
sardonic humor. But French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson,
who met Andropov last February, found him "extraordinarily
devoid of the passion and human warmth" that Russians often
display.

Andropov amassed the trappings of power more rapidly than any
previous Soviet leader; he assumed the twin posts of General
Secretary of the Communist Party and President of the U.S.S. R.
within seven months. By that time, he had also become chairman
of the powerful Defense Council. It took Brezhnev 13 years to
accumulate those three titles. Once again, though, appearances
may have been deceiving. It is still not clear how much real
authority Andropov exercised before he fell ill, nor how much
he will regain if he recovers full health. The task of
determining that is complicated by the nature of Moscow's
decision-making system.

At the top, in theory at least, sits the Politburo, which meets
every Friday morning in the Kremlin. It is one of the most
elderly ruling bodies in the world; the average age of its
eleven full members is 67. Most started moving into influential
positions during the 1940s and, like Reagan, formed their views
then. They have traveled in the West only fleetingly if at all.
Some Soviets acknowledge the problem that their leaders' age
and narrowness of experience creates. Confides one young
journalist: "The old leaders at the top who cling to their old
ideas and to their power, that is our tragedy."

On the matters that most affect the outside world, Andropov is
widely believed to make decisions only after consulting the two
other members of what is in effect a troika. They are Andrei
Gromyko, 74 who has been Foreign Minister since 1957, and
Dmitri Ustinov, 75, the Defense Minister who appears to have
backed Andropov in his bid for power after Brezhnev's death.
Ustinov's rising prominence suggests that the Soviet Union under
Andropov is becoming still more militarized. Brezhnev took his
country far in that direction, but Andropov appears to been even
closer to the Soviet military than his predecessor.

The military's clout reflects in part the ancient obsession
with security of oft-invaded Russia and in part cold judgment
b the Politburo that armed might commands both the fear and
respect that give the modern Soviet Union its best chance of
extending its ideological and political influence. The
practical effect is that the marshals and admirals get whatever
weapons they want, never mind the cost.

Andropov's contributions to the breakdown of Soviet-American
relations, is one sense, go back further than Reagan's. He
became a full member of the Politburo in 1973, when Reagan was
still Governor of California with no influence on U.S. foreign
policy. Thus Andropov was part of the Kremlin leadership that
did much to scuttle detente not long after it was launched.

Detente was an attempt to spin a web of agreements on arms
control, trade and scientific and cultural exchanges that would
give both sides a tangible stake in maintaining correct, if not
exactly friendly, relations. Nixon and Brezhnev formalized the
concept in 1972 by signing an agreement pledging each side not
to seek a "unilateral advantage at the expense of the other."
The Soviets have long accused the U.S. of violating the spirit
of detente by encouraging Egypt to switch from Kremlin to client
to U.S. ally-- for which there is no evidence--and by enacting
the Jackson-Vanik amendment of 1974, which made a U.S.-Soviet
trade agreement contingent on freer emigration of Jews from the
U.S.S.R. Moscow disregarded that as unwarranted interference
in its internal affairs.

Soviet violations of detente, however, were so much more
blatant as to appear systematic. In the analysis of Adam Ulam,
head of Harvard's Russian Research Center, the Kremlin leaders
always took it for granted that the two sides would continue
their competition for power and influence in the Third World,
and after the Watergate scandal broke they saw little reason to
be cautious about doing so. They judged the political authority
of Nixon and his successors to be too gravely weakened for them
to shape any vigorous response to Soviet probes. Among other
things, the Kremlin sent guns and Cuban troops to help Marxist
movements seize power in Angola, Ethiopia and South Yemen.

Most destructive of all, Moscow continued its relentless piling
of arms. In 1977 the Kremlin started replacing mobile,
accurate, triple warhead SS-20 nuclear missiles in the Far East
and in the western U.S.S. R.; those in Europe vastly increased
the destructive power aimed at U.S. NATO allies. The SS-20s
were supposedly intended to counter the threat posed to Moscow
by British and French nuclear weapons, but by the end of 1978
they already exceeded the British and French forces in the
number of warheads.

In retrospect, it seems incredible that the Politburo thought
it could pursue such a course while still proclaiming, as
Brezhnev often put it, that "detente is irreversible." Yet for
a long time, it seemed that the Soviets really could make major
gains at the West's expense, as U.S. and West European leaders
struggled to preserve what remained of detente. As late as 1979
Jimmy Carter was publicly embracing Brezhnev in Vienna to
celebrate the signing of the SALT II treaty, which set limits
on the number of nuclear launchers that the U.S. and the
U.S.S.R. could build. Then came the invasion of Afghanistan.
In the Soviet's eyes, they only prevented the overthrow of a
Communist regime on their borders. To the West and especially
the U.S., the invasion was a supremely menacing use of Soviet
troops, for the first time since World War II, to expand the
Soviet empire by force.

Suddenly, it was all too much. Though the Soviets had nothing
to do with it, the nearly simultaneous seizure of hostages by
Iranian revolutionaries added to an impression among tens of
millions of American voters that the U.S. was letting itself be
humiliated around the world, and that it was time to fight back.
By the end of his presidency, Carter had reluctantly given up
trying to persuade the Senate to ratify the SALT II treaty,
reversed his earlier policy of holding down military spending,
embargoed grain sales to the U.S.S.R., and called for a boycott
of the Moscow Olympics. The voters saw it all as too little and
too late. Other factors of course, influenced the election of
1980, notably rampant inflation and unemployment. Still the
popular appeal that carried Reagan to decisive victory was
enhanced not a little by the fact that he had proclaimed an
uncompromisingly hard-nosed anti-Soviet line long and loud.

For all his tough talk, Reagan initially gave low priority to
foreign affairs. He preferred to concentrate on his economic
program. Equally important, he felt he needed to get a
military buildup in high gear so that he could later negotiate
with the Soviets from a position of strength. Nonetheless, the
President was soon faced with an urgent issue. In 1979, the
NATO countries had approved what came to be known as the
two-track decision. The U.S. would install Pershing II missiles
in West Germany and cruise missiles in five European countries,
beginning at the end of 1983, to counter the menace of the
Soviet SS-20s. Simultaneously, Washington would try through
negotiation to limit or even eliminate the deployment of all
such intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe. At the same
time, fears of nuclear war, fanned in part by incautious remarks
from members of his Administration and Reagan himself, dictate
a new attempt to negotiate reductions also in "strategic"
weapons, the intercontinental missiles that the U.S. and the
U.S.S.R.aim at each other.

Reagan, according to his closest aides, believes fervently in
reducing nuclear arms. Nonetheless he has held to his belief
that the U.S. must first remove what he felt had become a
frightening Soviet superiority in some categories of Atomic
weaponry. As a goal for the INF talks that began in Geneva in
late 1981, the embraced the "zero option": the dismantling of
all Soviet SS-20s in Europe and Asia in return for no deployment
of the new U.S. medium range missiles. In the Separate
Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) that got going in June
982, Reagan proposed a one- third cut in nuclear warheads. The
trims, however, were structured in such a manner that the
Soviets would have had to destroy a disproportionate share of
their heavy land-based missiles that the U.S. most fears.

The Soviets, as expected, said not to the two proposals, but
they sent signals to the Reagan Administration that they wanted
a peredyskka (breathing space). They had good reason: on many
fronts, Soviet policy was and remains troubled. Though
Moscow's military may command fear and respect, the appeal of
Soviet ideology and life-style is at an all time low, even among
the Kremlin's allies. The open though unarmed rebellion in
Poland during 1980-81 followed by the imposition of martial law,
demonstrated that the U.S.S.R. can hold its East European allies
in line only by force.

At home, the growth rate of the inefficient Soviet economy has
slowed to roughly less than half its 1960s pace. Some experts
believe the economy might stop growing altogether or even
decline later in the 1980s. Most important, by 1982, with
Brezhnev terminally ill, the Kremlin was burdened by internal
maneuvering for the succession.

When Andropov succeeded Brezhnev, the deadline for the
installation of U.S. missiles in Western Europe was approaching
rapidly. The Kremlin had already begun a diplomatic and
propaganda campaign to stop the deployment by trying to turn
European public opinion against it. Andropov raised that effort
to a fever pitch. Says one Soviet observer: "I have never seen
such sustained propaganda over one issue."

The campaign was an adroit, though ultimately unsuccessful
mixture of blandishments and threats. Andropov enticed
Hans-Jochen Vogel, head of West Germany's opposition Social
Democratic Party, who visited Moscow in January, with visions
of the benefits that Bonn would enjoy if only it rejected the
U.S. missiles: lucrative trade, reunification of families
separated by the division of Germany, regional disarmament. At
the same time, the Kremlin played deftly on Western Europe's
fear of nuclear war. It warned incessantly that deployment
would end the INF talks, and possibly the START negotiations as
well. Worse, the Soviets said that in self-defense they would
take measures that would increase the risk of nuclear
catastrophe.

To the U.S., however, Moscow was simultaneously dropping hints
that Andropov, like Reagan, really wanted to focus his energies
on domestic economic problems. Reagan in January sent Andropov
what aides describe as a "very personal message" stressing that
the U.S. did not seek confrontation. By midsummer, the two
sides seemed to be groping cautiously toward an easing of
tensions. Washington and Moscow signed a long-term grain deal
and were negotiating an agreement on the opening of new
consulates. Some of Reagan's aides were even entertaining
thoughts of a summit meeting with Andropov in 1984. Says a
senior Reagan lieutenant: "We had undertaken to pave the way for
a summit when the KAL thing shot it right in the posterior.

The shooting down of Korean Air lines Flight 007 provoked a
rage against the U.S.S. R. that surpassed even the anger stirred
by events in Afghanistan and Poland. In a TV address, Reagan
in effect all but indicted the Soviets as cold-blooded killers
unfit for membership in the community of civilized nations.
Yet, according to an investigation by the International Civil
Aviation Organization, the Soviets may not have known on the
fateful morning that the plane they were destroying was a
civilian jetliner. Though the Soviets tracked KAL 007 for 2 1/2
hours, the fighter planes did not fire on it until it was about
to leave their air- space. It is quite plausible that the
Soviet military, acting without consulting Andropov, decided to
shoot down an "intruder" before it got away, without making sure
what it was. If so, Reagan would have had a fully provable, and
only slightly less damning, case had he charged the Soviets with
the equivalent of criminally negligent manslaughter rather than
premeditated murder.

The Soviets immediately made matters worse for themselves by
refusing to apologize. They indicated they would commit the
same act in similar circumstances, and accused Reagan of causing
the deaths of KAL 007's passengers by sending the plane on a
spy mission. Says Michael Howard, Regius professor of modern
history at Oxford University: "The incident was a nasty
indicator of the inability of the U.S. and the Soviet Union to
talk to each other intelligently about what was on the balance
of probabilities a horrible mistake."

By then, too, the Politburo had other reasons to be on the
defensive. The West German and British elections, and the
inability of the European peace movement to mount demonstrations
quite so large or angry as anticipated, meant that Moscow's
strident campaign to stop deployment of the Pershing II and
cruise missiles in Europe had failed.

The Kremlin summed up its accumulated frustration and
resentment in a carefully crafted statement issued on Sept. 28
in Andropov's name. It accused Reagan of mouthing "obscenities
alternating with hypocritical preaching" and, in so many words,
said that it could no longer do business with him.
America-Watcher Arbatov hammered the same point home in an
interview with TIME. Said he: "We have come to the conclusion
that nothing will come from dealing with Reagan."

Two months after the Andropov statement, the U.S. missiles
started going into Britain, Italy and West Germany. The Soviets
reacted by announcing that they would begin to take their
oft-threatened countermeasures, installing new ballistic
missiles in Czechoslovakia and East Germany and
intermediate-range warheads on submarines plying the waters just
off U.S. shores.

Meanwhile, vilification reached new heights, or depths. After
the shootdown of KAL 007, American indignation boiled furiously;
one video-game operation reprogrammed his devices to show as
the target "Andropov, Communist mutant from outer space."
Soviets have more than reciprocated, and on a quasi-official
level. The controlled Soviet press abounds in descriptions as
Reagan as a crypto-Nazi Soviet cartoonists, who have long
depicted the President as a gunslinging cowboy, now add
swastikas or ghostly faces of Hitler to their drawings.

Unsettling though all this is, it does not necessarily increase
the danger of war. New missiles in Eastern Europe and on
submarines will not significantly increase Soviet firepower
aimed at Western Europe or the U.S. Nor are the American
missiles in Europe the first-strike weapons that Kremlin
propaganda incessantly proclaims them to be.

Despite the comparisons between the current impasse and the
crises over Berlin and Cuba, there is an all-important
difference. In 1948, Soviet soldiers stood ready to shoot if
the U.S. tried to supply West Berlin by land rather than air;
in 1962, U.S. ships were poised to stop and search Soviet
vessels carrying arms to Cuba. Nowhere in the world today,
however, are American and Soviet forces pointing guns at each
other. That could happen in the Middle East, but even there the
most recent violence has provoked nothing comparable to the
worldwide alert ordered by Richard Nixon during the 1973
Arab-Israeli war, in the heyday of detente. The lesson being
drawn by many diplomats and academic experts is that the very
power of modern weapons is deterring not just nuclear but
conventional war.

Even the talk of a new cold war seems overstated. When a
Soviet diplomat voiced his fears to an acquaintance at the
State Department over a meal in Washington, the American cooly
replied: "You're probably too young to remember what the cold
war was really like. If this were another cold war, you and I
would not be sitting here having lunch." During the real cold
war, Stalin sealed off the U.S.S. R. and its citizens from
virtually any contact with foreigners. Today, despite the frost
in formal relations, U.S. and Soviet journalists, athletes,
scientists, performing artists and even diplomats continue to
meet and chat unofficially. Just last week the Soviets agreed
to cooperate with American, European and Japanese scientists in
tracking Halley's comet over the next three years.

The Reagan Administration, indeed, is remarkably cocky about
U.S.- Soviet relations. In its view, the U.S. military
buildup--and Reagan's policy of firmness generally--has the
Soviets on the run. Says one official: "For a couple of decades
the Soviets were sure that the economic and political balance,
part of what they like to call 'the correlation of forces,' was
shifting their way. But the past few years the balance has been
going the other way,and they have begun to realize that. They
have lost ground in the Middle East compared with a few years
ago. Their politics aren't selling in the Third World any more.
Afghanistan is a problem for them. Their economy still suffers
from terrible rigidity, and their foreign policy is in
confusion." A colleague draws this conclusion: "We don't think
we can or should fall all over ourselves to be nice to them"

The President's aides are convinced that the Soviets will
return to the arms control bargaining tables, and that the U.S.
will be able to talk them into a deal. Says National Security
Adviser Robert McFarlane: "If we can engender a kind of dialogue
with the Soviets in which we make clear that this renewed sense
of purpose, strength and resolve is not oriented against their
system, and that we are not seeking to alter it, then this
dialogue can lead to a stable modus vivendi. We seek that."
Privately, some Administration officials predict that the
Soviets will resume the Geneva INF talks by March. Their
reasoning: now that the U.S. missile deployment has started,
it is in the Soviet's military self-interest to keep the
deployment as small as possible, and to do that they will have
to agree to begin talking again. In addition, sooner or later,
and probably sooner, Moscow will conclude that it can get a
better bargain from a President who is running for re-election
than from one who has been returned to office for another four
years.

That, at least, is the theory, but it is also true that some of
Reagan's advisers made the mistake of thinking that the Soviets
would not walk out of the INF talks in the first place. Some
officials take seriously the possibility that the Soviets will
not return to the bargaining table at all. Even if they do,
the continuing chill in superpower relations poses at least
three serious dangers:

1) An escalating arms race. The new generations of nuclear
weapons, such as mobile intercontinental missiles and
long-range cruise missiles, that are being readied by both
sides share several characteristics. They are expensive. They
are extremely difficult to detect and thus to include under the
verification procedures of any arms-control agreement. They
will compel each side to take countermeasures, perpetuating a
never-ending cycle.

Existing arms-control treaties could start to break down. The
SALT I interim agreement on offensive arms, signed in 1972,
technically has expired, and SALT II was never ratified by the
U.S. Senate. Washington and Moscow, nonetheless, have agreed
to observe the major provisions of both treaties. The
Administration, however, is preparing a report that accuses the
U.S.S.R. of cheating on some important provisions of the SALT
treaties.

Reagan may send this report to Congress in January, It will
mention that the Soviets are operating a large radar base in
Siberia that the U.S. suspects will be used to guide the kind
of antiballistic missiles that have been banned under the SALT
I-ABM treaty and will questions Moscow's compliance with
important parts of SALT II as well. Yet the Soviets would have
a point in asking what right the U.S. has to complain about
violations of SALT II, a treaty is has refused to ratify. If
the arms control agreements start to erode, all restraints on
the nuclear race would be off, and the piling up of weapons
would increase the peril of war by accident.

2) New strains in the Western alliance. Though the U.S. has
won the first round of the Euromissile controversy, the battle
is far from over. Full deployment of Pershing IIs and cruise
missiles will take five years, during which Moscow will keep up
its propaganda, seeking to appeal to the people of Western
Europe over the heads of their governments.

The campaign has had an effect. Though it was then-Chancellor
Helmut Schmidt of West Germany who originally called attention
to the imbalance being caused by Soviet SS-20 missiles aimed at
Western Europe, his Social Democratic Party has since changed
its position and come out against the NATO response. In
Britain, the Labor Party advocates unilateral nuclear
disarmament. The crushing electoral defeats that these
principal opposition parties suffered in 1983 dim their hopes
of coming to power very soon, but Washington can no longer be
serenely confident that any foreseeable British or West German
government will back its position: Even the strongest West
European governments must take into account the public
nervousness. If the Soviets engage in a prolonged boycott of
the arms talks, some NATO allies may start pressing the U.S. to
make concessions.

3) Proxy wars. Careful as they have been to avoid a military
clash, the superpowers run a constant risk of being dragged
into one by the action of allies or clients they cannot control.
One example: if the incessant factional strife in Lebanon
broadens into a general Middle East war, Syria could call on
Moscow to intervene militarily under a 1980 treaty. The
ambassadorial exchanges between Washington and Moscow on
avoiding a clash could have a greater chance of success if
diplomatic contacts between the two capitals were more frequent
and less antagonistic.

The current prospects for dampening down these dangers seem
bleak. Some of the more obvious steps have been officially
rejected, or even sneered at, by one side or the other.
Nonetheless, there are moves the U.S. could undertake, without
violating any of Reagan's ideological convictions, to make the
superpower relationship less menacing and more manageable.
Among them:

>>Offer to merge the START and INF talks. For the moment, the
White House has decided against doing so, in the believe that
the Soviets will soon resume the INF talks on Reagan's terms,
namely by accepting deployment of some new U.S. missiles in
Western Europe. Moscow scoffs at the idea of a merger for
precisely the opposite reason. "One can only merge something
that really exists," says First Deputy Foreign Minister George
Korniyenko.

Nonetheless, the idea has merit. The distinction between
"strategic" missiles, defined by the U.S. as those with ranges
of 3,400 miles or more, and "intermediate-range" weapons has
always been arbitrary. Westerners remark that Soviet strategic
missiles can hit London or Rome as easily as Chicago; Moscow
considers any missiles capable of striking the U.S.S.R. to be
strategic, whatever their range. Merging the two sets of talks
would make possible more varied trade-offs between different
types of weaponry.

In any merged talks, the Soviets are likely to demand
concessions for withdrawing the missiles they are now installing
in East Germany and Czechoslovakia. As long as
intermediate-range missiles were under discussion, the U.S.
would be burdened by the necessity of representing the position
of its European allies, supposing those often disunited nations
could agree on one. But the alternative could be a prolonged
suspension of the START as well as the INF negotiations, a
breakdown of what remains of the SALT treaties, a completely
unrestrained arms race, and considerable damage to NATO.

>>Propose measure to guard against war by accident. Reagan has
suggested some, including upgrading the White House-Kremlin hot
line and more comprehensive advance notification by each side
to the other of missile test launches and major military
maneuvers. Senators Sam Nunn, a Georgia Democrat, and John
Warner, a Virginia Republican, advocate setting up "crisis
control centers" manned by military officers of each country who
could get in touch with one another immediately. Democratic
Presidential Candidate Gary Hart offers a variation: a single
center in Geneva or Vienna staffed jointly by the Pentagon and
Soviet Defense Ministry, where each side could see pictures of
what the other's satellites were showing and explain any
activity that looked threatening.

At present, the political climate is so strained that the
Kremlin derides even these modest "confidence-building
measures." Says Arbatov: "What difference could it make if your
President were to call Moscow (on the hot line) and say `Hi,
it's Ronnie, a couple of missiles are flying in your direction
but don't take it serisously'?" Still, war by accident or
miscalculation is a terrible risk for both sides, and the risks
become greater as missile flight times become shorter. The
Soviets are already dropping hints that they may adopt a "launch
on warning" strategy. This means that they would automatically
fire their missiles as soon as they picked up signals that U.S.
missiles were on their way. The U.S., also fearing sneak
attack, may be driven toward the same strategy.
Confidence-building measures might help dissuade both from
adopting that idea, which is supremely dangerous because it
means a wayward blip on a radar screen could touch off a
holocaust.

>>Seek regular and frequent contacts with Soviet officials at
every level. Though the old Nixon-Brezhnev idea of annual
summits seems unrealizable for a long time to come, Washington
could promote more frequent exchanges at the foreign minister,
ambassador and assistant secretary levels, supplemented perhaps
by meetings of uniformed military men. The belief has grown
among U.S. conservatives that merely agreeing to talk is itself
a concession. But no American interest is likely to be
compromised if Secretary of State George Schultz and Gromyko,
say, were to agree to meet several times a year. Each side needs
to hear what the other is really thinking--fully, frankly, in
private, in person and often. In the absence of frequent
contact, both sides will be doomed to keep practicing what
former British Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington has christened
"megaphone diplomacy." Says former Defense Secretary James
Schlesinger: "Our weakened ability to communicate with the
Soviets adds modestly, though measurably, to the risk of a clash
of arms and detracts from the cohesion of the alliance."

>>Adopt a realistic trade policy. Though Reagan has learned
not to say so out loud, associates say he still believes that
the U.S.S.R. could be badly damages, and forced to cut back on
its military buildup, if the West cut it off from trade
contacts. That is a delusion: inefficient as the Soviet
civilian economy is, the Kremlin could squeeze it further to
continue piling up arms. The Soviet public will do what it is
told, partly because it has no choice, but partly because it
responds vigorously when it believes the motherland is being
threatened. Sporadic U.S. attempt to invoke sanctions against
the U.S.S.R., notably Washington's fumbling efforts to block the
building of a pipeline to carry Soviet natural gas from Siberia
to Western Europe, have embittered U.S. relations with NATO
allies, costing Washington more than it could hope to have
gained in damage to the Soviet economy.

Thus the U.S. should renounce, and let it be known that it is
renouncing, the idea that trade sanctions can prod the Soviets
into changing course, and should shift to a policy of
straightforward self-interest. It should trade with Moscow when
that offers mutual advantage, as in the case of the grain deal.
Simultaneously, though it should maintain tight controls on the
export of high technology that the U.S.S.R. can turn to military
use, an effort in which the Europeans have begun to cooperate.
Such a policy would not in itself do much to promote better
U.S.-Soviet relations, but it would deprive the Kremlin of a
wedge that it has proved all too skillful at driving between the
U.S. and its allies.

>>Improve relations with China. In dealing with Peking, Reagan
initially let his anti-Communism get in the way of his
anti-Sovietism. He spoke during the campaign of establishing
"official" relations with Taiwan and, as President, sold enough
arms to that island to chill relations with the Chinese.
Andropov, in contrast, has continued negotiations to paper over
the split between the two Communist giants, though
Soviet-Chinese hostility and suspicion have kept them from
getting very far.

Reagan has not agreed to exchange visits in 1984 with Chinese
Premier Zhoa Zyang. Such efforts should be continued and
intensified. The strategic importance to the U.S. of China,
which keeps a quarter of all Soviet military forces tied down
guarding a 4,200-mile frontier, is obvious. Moreover, Soviet
foreign policy gives a high priority to heading off anything
resembling a U.S.- Chinese alliance. Historians have long
suspected that Nixon's 1971 opening to China helped prod
Brezhnev into signing the agreements with the U.S. that launched
detente the next year.


>>Build up conventional forces more rapidly, and encourage
Europe- an allies to do the same. At present, NATO may not have
enough troops, tanks, artillery pieces and tactical aircraft to
fight the forces of the U.S.S.R. and its Warsaw Pact allies to
a draw on the ground. As a result, NATO strategy contemplates
the possibility of using tactical atomic weapons from the first
day of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. That has handed
Moscow a two-pronged propaganda advantage. The Kremlin has made
a pledge never to use nuclear weapons first. The U.S. has felt
unable to match this pledge because it would "make Europe safe
for conventional aggression" by superior Soviet ground forces.
At the same time, Moscows stirs terror by warning incessantly
that the firing of any atomic weapon of any size at Soviet
troops would trigger an all-out Soviet nuclear attack in
response.

Propaganda, however is the least of it. NATO would reduce the
real risk of nuclear war if it built the conventional forces
that could defeat Soviet aggression without resort to atomic
weaponry. But Western Europe has been reluctant to make the
major financial sacrifices that would be required. However, the
U.S. is in no condition to preach. A serious attempt to defend
Western Europe without atomic Weapons would probably require
reviving the draft, and many U.S. politicians from Reagan on
down refuse to consider that idea.

The preliminary to any attempt to that relations between the
superpowers is to tone down the rhetoric. By year's end
Washington showed signs of realizing that it had carried the war
of worlds too far. Reagan did not denounce the Soviets for
suspending the arms- control talks, contenting himself with
expressions of regret and of hope that Moscow will reconsider.
In an interview with TIME, he went so far as to say that he
would not make his "focus of evil" statement again.

But there is some doubt that the Soviets will take any change
in rhetoric at face value. According to Sovietologist Bialer,
the U.S.S.R.'s distrust of Reagan is now so high that Moscow
would probably reject even the most reasonable U.S. arms
control proposals. The Kremlin is convinced that Reagan is
trying to nullify he Soviet Union's most important achievement
of the past 20 years: having attained equal status as the
superpower. Because of their weakening economy, uncertain
leadership and failure to stop the U.S. missile deployment in
Europe, says Bialer, "there is no doubt the Soviets are in a
hole. But anyone who thinks that will make them easier to deal
with does not understand them."

For hundreds of millions of people in every part of the globe--
including the U.S. and the Soviet Union--it is not enough just
to make the superpower conflict less menacing. They long for
a breakthrough toward cooperation, rather than controlled
animosity, and toward a level of disarmament that would leave
the superpowers incapable of ending civilization. Alas, those
can be only the most remote of long-range goals. The values of
U.S. and Soviet society are too starkly contrasting to permit
for the foreseeable future anything friendlier than a more
cautious competition. It is in the U.S. interest to be strong
militarily, but Washington should explore every possibility of
negotiating agreements that would reduce the risk of war. The
Soviets, for their part, will be more secure when they begin to
understand how their own actions can, and do, provoke the kind
of U.S. response that they later deplore.

There is a chance of moving away from confrontation, even under
the leaders who brought the U.S. and the Soviet Union so close
to it during 1983. Reagan has time and again proved to friends
and political opponents alike that they have underestimated his
ability to calculate how far his intense ideological convictions
can realistically be pushed. Andropov, in the judgment of
Richard Nixon, could be "the most formidable and dangerous
adversary" of any recent Soviet leader, but also "the best one
with whom the U.S. could develop a live-and-let-live
relationship." Says Nixon: "He is not, like Khrushchev,
controlled by his emotions. He is more imaginative than
Brezhnev. He is highly intelligent. He is coldly pragmatic.
He will not do something rash.

Both leaders must realize the overriding truth of superpower
relations: Since they cannot make war without destroying
themselves and most of the rest of the world, the U.S. and the
U.S.S.R. are, in Henry Kissinger's phrase, "doomed to co-exist."
To TIME's Men of the Year, the point can be put more
personally: whatever else they do, Reagan and Andropov will be
judged by history primarily on how each deals with the other's
country--and with the other as a man.


*Marshal Ogarkov confirmed that the show had been screened
privately for some Soviet officials. His view of it: "The
danger which is shown in the film really exists."

--By George J. Church. Reported by Erik Amfitheatrof/Moscow,
Laurence I. Barret and Strobe Talbott/Washington, with other
bureaus

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