The Ronald Reagan years. Those were the days my friends for having fun with a president with a great sense of humor (sometimes). Ronald Reagan has become a Republican icon but during his presidency he was hardly that for many citizens. Known for his napping, Reagan would come across to many Americans as an occasional day-dreamer.

Dateline: Washington, October 6, 1968


(From The New York Times)—President Reagan, responding defensively to conservative criticism, said today that he was opening negotiations with Michael S. Gorbachev “without illusions” about the Soviet Union.




Bob Flicker




SCENE: This is a summit meeting between the two leaders of the United States and The Soviet Union. They sit across from each other at a conference table. They each wear headphones from which they receive simultaneous translations from unseen interpreters.

GORBACHEV    As agreed Mr. President, we will confine our discussions to first strike capabilities.

REAGAN               Would you care to qualify that Mr. Secretary.

GOBACHEV       Mr. President, in 1989 your Trident submarines will be armed D-5, long-range     


REAGAN                  How did you know that?

 GORBACHEV     Mr. President, these missiles will give the United States a first strike capability while 

                                      your Trident submarines remain, virtually free from retaliation.

REAGAN                Don’t think that we are unaware of your development of two, mobile ICBMs. The  SS-22 and  the SS-23.

GORBACHEV     I believe you are referring to the SS-24 and the SS-25.

REAGAN                I am?

GORBACHEV     Without question.

REAGAN                Never very good at remembering numbers.

GORBACHEV     Your D-5s leave us little choice but accelerate development and deployment of the  SS-24 and SS-25.

REAGAN                Don’t forget, Mr. Secretary, the Soviet Union at this very moment has ICBMs that have the ability to hit our missile silos. I would say that you already have first strike capability.

GORBACHEV     (Wagging his finger.) Never, never for a first strike! They are to be used only for self-defense.

REAGAN             I assume, Mr. Secretary, that you are intimating that the United States of America would launch a first strike against the Soviet Union.

GORBACHEV     Who else—Liechtenstein?

REAGAN                Let me assure you Mr. Secretary, the Soviet Union need not worry about a first strike rom my country. The United States of America would never—and I repeat—never start a nuclear war!

GOBACHEV        Mr. President, it isn’t that I don’t believe you. It’s my generals. They don’t believe  you.

REAGAN                Are we to be so naïve as to believe that the Soviet Union would not launch a first

                                     strike if you thought you could get away with it?

GORBACHEV     I see you don’t trust me.

REAGAN               Mr. Secretary, it isn't that I don't trust you. It's my generals, they don't trust you.

GORBACHEV    Look Ron—May I call you Ron?

REAGAN               Only when there are no reporters around.

GORBACHEV    Ron, let’s face it! This arms race is going to bankrupt both our countries.

REAGAN            Mr. Secretary—

GORBACHEV    Call me Mikhail.

REAGAN               Well, eh—eh—what the hell! Why not! Michael—

GOBACHEV       (Breaking in) That’s Mikhail.

REAGAN              I thought I said Mikhail.

GORBACHEV     No, you said Michael.

REAGAN              (Lowering his voice) Confidentially, do you have any idea how much we will spend     

                                    on just  the navy by 1990?

GORBACHEV      One trillion dollars.

REAGAN                 How did you know that?

GORBACHEV      I read it in The Wall Street Journal.

REAGAN              There are no questions that our defense costs are staggering—but we have the 

                                     wealth to do  it.

GORBACHEV      Ron—it’s me, Mikhail you are talking too, not the American voters. Both of our 

                                       countries  are going broke.

REAGAN                 That’s an American expression.

GORBACHEV      Yes. I read it in The Wall Street Journal.

REAGAN                 What do you propose?

GORBACHEV      An inexpensive arms policy called MAD.

REAGAN              Mad?


REAGAN              Sounds reasonable. Exactly what does it mean?

GORBACHEV      Look at it from each of our points of view.

REAGAN                 I’ll try.

GORBACHEV      You spend hundreds of billions of dollars to develop a weapons system. That means      

                                        we have to spend hundreds of billions rubles to match it.

REAGAN              Can’t argue with that.

GORBACHEV     Then, you spend hundreds of billions of dollars to build a more advanced weapons  

                                       system that makes your first system obsolete.

REAGAN              (Shaking his head) That’s billions down the ole tube all right.

GORBACHEV    Then, we spend hundreds of billions of rubles to develop a more advanced weapons     

                                      system to match or better yours. This, of course, means that our previous system is 

                                      now  obsolete. That’s billions of rubles down the ole tube.

REAGAN             You learned that expression from The Wall Street Journal?

GORBACHEV    No. Just now from you. Tell me Ron, where does it stop?

REAGAN               To tell you the truth Michael—

GORBACHEV    That is Mikhail!

REAGAN              Would have sworn I said Mikhail. To tell you the truth, I haven‘t thought that far ahead.

GORBACHEV    Take a few moments and do it.

REAGAN                Do it?

GORBACHEV      Do it.

REAGAN                 (Thinking) Do what?

GORBACHEV       Think of all those billions of dollars and rubles we wasting in our arms race.

REAGAN                  (Rests  his chin on his hands and closes his eyes.)

GORBACHEV     (After waiting several minutes.) Well, Ron?…Ron?…Mr. President?

                                      SEVERAL LOUD SNORES ESCAPE FROM THE PRESIDENT.

GORBACHEV      (Shaking Reagan’s shoulder.) Ron!

REAGAN              (Awakens with a start.) You said something?

GORBACHEV      I said, Ron.

REAGAN               (Not fully awake) Any reporters around?

GORBACHEV      Ron, I have a first strike capability plan based on our mutual distrust for each other

                                       that  can save both our countries hundreds of billions.

REAGAN                 I will consider any reasonable proposal.

GORBACHEV      Why should you and I have to worry that one of us will launch a first strike against 

                                       each other’s major cities?

REAGAN              You can bet that I would love not to have that worry.

GORBACHEV      (Exuberant) Your worries are over and so are mine!

REAGAN                 How?

GORBACHEV      Simple.

REAGAN                 Simple?

GORBACHEV   Simple but ingenious. Guaranteed to save us hundreds of billions.

REAGAN                How?

GORBACHEV      You are going to love it. (Pinches Reagan’s cheeks.)

REAGAN                 (Rubbing his cheeks.) I am?

GORBACHEV      Of course.

REAGAN                 Tell me your plan already!

GORBACHEV      My plan requires that each of us keep just one atomic ICBM The rest we destroy.

REAGAN                 What good is one ICBM? That wouldn’t deter either one of us. It’s the total destruction     

                                       of each other that has kept either one of from starting anything.  Not that we would.    

                                       Knowing that our cities would be devastated has kept the peace.

GORBACHEV      Who said anything about our cities.

REAGAN                 Not…our cities?

GORBACHEV      No. That is the beauty of the plan.

REAGAN                 Whose cities?

GORBACHEV      That we can decide.

REAGAN                We are going to decide that other countries’  cities might be destroyed

GORBACHEV      Exactly.

REAGAN                What other countries?

GORBACHEV      We each pick a country we care most about.

REAGAN                 I don’t get it.

GORBACHEV      Think of one country the United States cares most about

REAGAN                 (Thinking) Off hand…I would say Canada.

GORBACHEV      Good. And for the Soviet Union—the country we feel closest to—although we love all 

                                      our communist comrades—a country we feel is like part of us is, of course, Poland.

REAGAN                Now what?

GORBACHEV       I ask you the question. Do you want Toronto to be hit by one of our ICBMs?

REAGAN                 Of course not!

GORBACHEV      Would I want Warsaw obliterated by one your ICBMs? Of course not! The Polish 

                                       peoples are our brothers and sisters. We love them like ourselves.

REAGAN               Now, let me get this clear in my head. What you are proposing is that we let other 

                                     countries take the risk of a first strike and retaliation.

GORBACHEV      Countries we both love like we love ourselves. Countries whose pain is our pain. 

                                       Countries whose suffering is our suffering. Countries who—

REAGAN                 (Interrupting) I get your point! 

GORBACHEV         (All business) We can no longer afford to endanger our own cities.

REAGAN                     As far as you are concerned it’s O.K. to destroy Toronto and Warsaw?

GORBACHEV          What risk? Is the United States going to launch a first strike?

REAGAN                     Absolutely not!

GORBACHEV          Is the Soviet Union going to launch a first strike? And I answer you with your own 

                                           words. Absolutely not! Therefore, there is no danger to Toronto and Warsaw.

REGAN                       You’ve got a point. (Thinking) Then, why bother with other countries and just keep 

                                         the  status quo?

GORBACHEV      We must consider the possibilities of an accident.

REAGAN                An accident?

GORBACHEV      Have you heard of LAUNCH ON WARNING?

REAGAN              Was that in The Wall Street Journal?

GORBACHEV      No, Pravda.

REAGAN              That’s one paper I don’t get.

GORBACHEV      Launch On Warning is a policy being considered to launch our ICBMs at the first hint 

                                       that we might be under attack.

REAGAN               But—suppose that hint is a mistake?

GORBACHEV      (Shrugging his shoulders) Too late! As it now stands, Washington, New York, and 

                                       several dozen other American cities would be destroyed. With my plan, only Toronto 

                                       would be destroyed.

REAGAN                 Only Toronto! Only Toronto! That’s terrible! We would never let you get away with  


GORBACHEV      We wouldn’t expect you to let us get away with it. That is the beauty of my MAD plan. 

                                        You launch your ICBM and wipe out Warsaw.

REAGAN              (Shocked) Wipe out Warsaw?

GORBACHEV      We of the Soviet Union would feel great anguish for our Polish comrades. In our     

                                       hearts we will bleed for them. Yet—they would have given their lives for a great and 

                                       noble  cause.

REAGAN                 Great and noble cause? What great and noble cause?

GORBACHEV      (Again, pinches Reagan’s cheeks) Peace!

REAGAN                (Rubbing his cheeks) Peace? How do you figure that one?

GORBACHEV      In the example I just gave you, we made a mistake and you retaliated. Then—it 

                                      would be over. Of course, there would be no more Toronto or Warsaw but the affair 

                                      would be finished and we will have peace. A small price to pay.

REAGAN                  If we launch our ICBM by accident we wipe out Warsaw.

GORBACHEV      (Smiling) You have the idea.

REAGAN              Then,  you launch your ICBM and obliterate Toronto.

GORBACHEV      Exactly. Then, we have peace. No more retaliations.

REAGAN                  Then what?

GORSBACHEV      We each build one ICBM and find new friends.

REAGAN                   What happens if we run out of friends?

GORBACHEV      Then, we will have problems again.


 © robert 2014