Diplomacy: East-West War of Words

Some loose talk triggers an avalanche of anxiety and accusation

The mood was easy, the conversation relaxed, as Ronald Reagan lunched at the White House with a small group of out-of-town newspaper editors. Was it possible, wondered one of the visitors, to have a limited exchange of nuclear weapons without setting off a nuclear war?

The President casually replied, "I don't honestly know." He went on to say that as long as you have "that kind of a stalemate" in which "the only defense is, well, you shoot yours and we'll shoot ours," then "I...

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