Courtesy Reuters

In the memory of the American public, three events, or sets of events, stood out in 1983. The first was the September 1 shooting down, by a Soviet fighter, of a Korean Air Lines flight that had strayed into Soviet air space and was carrying 269 civilian passengers, including 61 Americans; in the aftermath, favorable American opinion toward the Soviet Union dropped to a 27-year low, and the incident aborted what had been brief hopes for better communication between Washington and Moscow and some progress at least on minor issues.

Then, in late October, disaster and triumph came hand in hand. On October 23 a

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