Doubletalk: The Story of Salt I

In This Review

Doubletalk: The Story of Salt I

By Gerard C. Smith
Doubleday, 1980
556 pp. $17.95
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This long-awaited memoir by the leader of the American team that negotiated the SALT I (1969-1972) agreement is a critical contribution to the history of the negotiations. Written in a gentlemanly manner, it nevertheless must be seen as Gerard Smith's corrective to the previous accounts of John Newhouse (Cold Dawn) and Henry Kissinger (The White House Years). The perspective is from the negotiating table at Helsinki and Vienna. Among the many points in the rich and detailed book, three stand out: the Nixon Administration did not push for a moratorium on MIRVs in 1969-70 as actively as Smith would have liked, and this stands as a major missed opportunity in the history of arms control; Kissinger's development of a back-channel with Dobrynin without informing Smith led to confusion and "duplicitous diplomacy" and brought Smith close to resigning; and the final Moscow round between Nixon and Brezhnev took place amid astounding confusion within the American camp. Smith's judicious and fair-minded approach, however, leads him to understand, if not always agree with, the differing perspectives at the White House and even within his own delegation.