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Trusting EnemiesInterpersonal Relationships in International Conflict$
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Nicholas J. Wheeler

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199696475

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199696475.001.0001

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USA–Soviet Union, 1985–1989

USA–Soviet Union, 1985–1989

(p.143) 6 USA–Soviet Union, 1985–1989
Trusting Enemies

Nicholas J. Wheeler

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6 focuses on US–Soviet interactions 1985–90. The end of the cold war is hotly debated, with competing explanations in IR, including trust-based ones. However, none of these explanations adequately explains the transformation in superpower relations in the later 1980s. The chapter posits the importance of the theory of bonding trust in explaining how Reagan and Gorbachev came to interpret each other’s signals accurately, and the subsequent ending of the cold war. It argues that what changed Reagan’s perceptions of Gorbachev’s signals was the process of bonding and trust emergence that led to a transformation of their identities, made possible by their face-to-face diplomacy at four summits, especially Reykjavik. Reagan’s successor, George H. W. Bush, did not initially trust Gorbachev. Only after Bush and Gorbachev had developed a relationship of trust did the President, and especially his Secretary of State, James Baker, trust the Soviet leader’s intentions.

Keywords:   trust, Reagan, Gorbachev, Bush, Geneva, Reykjavik, bonding, suspension

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