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Spirit of Geneva.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Reagan Administration announced it would hold "preliminary" arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union in Geneva on January 7 and 8. President Reagan may be unsophisticated about the arcane world of nuclear strategy, but he can decipher the polls. And as a recent New York Times editorial pointed out, "The voters' mandate is plain." Americans want "something more than the hostility and diplomatic confusion of the last four years."

Anticipating that verdict, the President said in an election-eve speech that his first priority in a second term would be "peace" and "disarmanent." Perhaps the State Department, which christened 1983 the Year of the Missile, will proclaim 1985 the Year of Peace and Disarmament.

Robert C. McFarlane, reputed to be a member of the pro-arms-control faction in the Administration, cause us to think that such an appellation would be premature. On CBS's Face the Nation of November 25, McFarlane said:

It strikes me that what is significant is not so much that there are talks but that the U.S. is entering them with a sense of realism that is born of losses this country suffered from talking in the late 1970s. We learned a lot in those days. We learned that Soviets violate treaties. We learned that they bargain very hard; that compromise is really an alien concept to them. We learned that while talking they moved into countries from Afghanistan to very visible support in Nicaragua and elsewhere.

If that represents the views of those in the White House who favor arms control, 1985 will be the Year of Living Dangerously.

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Title Annotation:preliminary arms control negotiations
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:editorial
Date:Dec 8, 1984
Words:266
Previous Article:Royal prerogative.
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