Mohamed Beshir Hamid






Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev had done it again;, they fooled the entire world. The international media was reporting that the Reykjavik summit had foundered on the Star Wan issue, thus shattering any hope of a break-through in the arms control talks. But nobody knew that the two leaden had actually reached a secret agreement of historic proportions, the most significant part of it was to pretend that no agreement was reached at all.



What remained a closely guarded secret was what happened inside Reykjavik’s Hofdi house during those decisive hours in October 1986. When the two leaders met, accompanied by their aides, they kept their attitude of covert hostility.


Reagan greeted Gorbachev with the words: “You are late as usual, you Darth Vader, General Secretary of the Evil Empire!”


Gorbachev replied: “You are used to waiting, you second-rate actor and trigger-happy gunslinger and gunrunner.”


After these formal opening niceties, the aides were asked to withdraw to allow the two leaders to have the mandatory tete-‘a-tete session. As he was leaving, George Shultz pushed a Magnum 99-calibre into


Reagan pocket and whispered, “if it comes to a shoot-out, Mr. President, aim at the marking on the forehead.” At the same time, Eduard Sherverdnaze slipping a razor-sharp sickle into Gorbachev’s hands and whispering, “you only have to brandish it, Comrade General Secretary, and the old man will have a cardiac arrest”’.


The moment the door was closed, the two leaders leapt to their feet with hilarious shouts of joy. They hugged and kissed each other, first Russian and then American style. They started dancing around the room. Reagan broke into the wild, leaping, one-legged Cossacks dance, while Gorbachev did an imitation of Fred Astaire doing Break Dance. After a while Gorbachev fell back exhausted on his chair; but Reagan kept dancing as though he was oblivious to an invisible director’s shout of ‘cut!’


“Cut it short, Ronnie old!” said Gorbachev gasping for breath and wiping the sweat from his brow, “you made your point.” Reagan sat down fresh as ever and said with his Great-Communicator smile, “how are you, my dear Mikhail Gorbachev Dimitry Nevsky lvanovitch ?”


“Very well, indeed,” replied Gorbachev, “you look younger than ever, Ronnie.”


“I feel younger whenever I see you,” said Reagan, “but my dear Mikhail Gorbachev Dimitry Nevsky lvanovitch, we can’t go on meeting like this”.


Gorbachev smiled. “You know, Ronnie,” he said, ”these people outside will never believe that we have been on first-name terms since you ware acting in war movies in the East coast and we were  pretending to fight one another on the Eastern Front”.


“Yah, no one will believe it,” Reagan said, “the trouble is that it takes so long to say a first name in Russian, Mikhail Gorbachev Dimitry .. “


Gorbachev interrupted him, “Okay, Ronnie. I will make the first concession in our negotiations: You can call me Gorby.”


“How is dear sweat Raisa, Gorby?” asked Reagan.


“She is fine and right here in Reykjavik,” said Gorbachev, “and she is dying to see Nancy to compare notes on the latest fashion designs.”


“I am sorry, Gorby, but Nancy couldn’t make it this time,” said Reagan apologetically, “you see she had this previous engagement for an Academy-Award ceremony, and you know the kind of gossip these Hollywood people can come up with if she doesn’t show up.”


(Reagan hated himself for that small lie; he knew that Nancy did not come because she was afraid of competing for attention with Raisa. Gorbachev was thinking: poor Ronnie, he is hating himself for this small lie since he knows Nancy did not come because she is afraid of competing for attention with Raisa.)


“Now, Ronnie,” said Gorbachev aloud, “let us get down to business. I take it first we have agreed to disagree, right?” Reagan nodded his approval.


“I take it second that we have agreed to disagree to agree,” continued Gorbachev.


“I will agree to that,” said Reagan.


“Good” said Gorbachev,


“I take it then we are both agreeable to a simultaneous cutting of offensive weapons?”


“Yeh,” replied Reagan, “but what are we going to do with all those stocks of short range, medium-range and long-range ballistic missiles?”


“You have already found the solution, Ronnie,” said Gorbachev, “dump them on someone else.” He paused and then added with a mischievous smile, “you don’t think, Ronnie, we are not aware of your secret dealings with the Israelis, the Ayatollahs, the Contras, do you?”


“Oh, yeh,” Reagan said non-committedly. He was instinctively aware that his Russian friend was up to one of his old tricks;· it was time to make a show of force. He stood up and started pacing around the room in his walking into high-noon gait.


“Oh, yeh ?” he repeated defiantly, “but what about yours?”


“No sweat, Ronnie,” Gorbachev said, “We give them to the other side.”


“Agreed,” said Reagan with a sigh of relief as he sat down.


“The sticking point, Ronnie,” said Gorbachev cautiously, “is this SDl business. I think it will be a good idea to confine it to laboratory research for the next ten years.”


“What!” Reagan retorted, again instinctively feeling there was something fishy about the Russian proposal.


“Thousands of people are dying from the disease, Gorby, and you want me to confine it to laboratory research?”


Reagan paused and then added emphatically, “over my dead body, Gorby!”


There was an uneasy silence as Gorbachev pondered the imponderable dimensions of that prospect. Both leaders felt a bit confused, and the apparent breakdown in communication could, at least partly, be attributed to the fact that while Reagan was talking in Russian, Gorbachev was speaking in English. It was Reagan who took the initiative to break the deadlock.


“Look, Gorby,” he said, “you will be fooling yourself if you think that this disease is the product of what your propagandists call the degenerating and decaying western capitalist society. It will spread to your empire soon enough because it is an international epidemic. You mark my words, Gorby,”


“Ronnie,” said Gorbachev, “I am talking about Star Wars.”


“I haven’t seen the movie,” replied Reagan, “in any case, Gorby, I will have to consult with Paul Nitze and John Poindexter on these matters.”


“Ronnie, old chap,” Gorbachev said, “there is no need to bring your hotheads into these affairs. I have my own to worry about.” He reflected for a while and then said earnestly, “I think, Ronnie, you have hit on the right solution. Why don’t we turn the whole SDl project into a joint movie production? With your advanced technology you can take care of the special effects and we will provide the extras. But the stars, directors, budget will have to be shared on a fifty-fifty basis. The budget factor will ease some of your problems with Congress. What do you think about that, Ronnie?”


“You know what, Gorby,” said Reagan slapping his thighs, “you have got yourself a deal”. .


They shook hands and Reagan commented, “There can be some acting roles for the two of us in the movie, Gorby.”


“I don’t know about that, Ronnie,” said Gorbachev, “this is a huge production and it may take more than twenty years to finish it.”


“Then we will not announce it or make it public,” Reagan said, “until it is completely finished and ready for release. Not a word. In the meantime we resume our covert hostility scenario. Right, Gorby?”


“Yes, Ronnie,” Gorbachev replied, “but who will announce our historic agreement twenty years from now?”


“Whoever of the two of us is still alive,” said Reagan.


Fair was fair and there was nothing Gorbachev could complain about. But he could not help recalling the recent record of the longevity in office of his predecessors.


“Well, Ronnie,” he said resignedly, “when you make that historic announcement twenty years hence from the White House porch, don’t forget to pay a special tribute to me as one of the original co-producers.”


The two leaden emerged from their closed session. The grim look on their faces said it all: no deal, period. As Reagan headed for his Air Force One, he was telling his aides that he could not give in to Gorbachev’s AIDS conditions. The Russian leader, driving to his ferry, was asking his aides to prepare for him a complete report on the SDI disease.


SUDAN TIMES 17 December 1986


Back to Top