In the wake of the Washington summit, what are the key issues that remain unresolved?

“The most important issue concerns the problems of Germany and the shape of European security. It is not just the question of Germany in NATO; in the rush toward German reunification, little thought has been given by either side to the reshaping of Europe. It has suddenly dawned on the Soviet leadership that they’re faced with a situation in which the new Germany will emerge in the next decade as the dominant power in Eastern Europe and probably Western Europe as well.

“Among the summit meetings with Gorbachev, this has probably been the most productive. But neither side is really prepared to think about what kind of a security structure is feasible. Both will have to settle for interim, transitional solutions.”

Marshall Shulman


Professor emeritus of political science, Columbia University

“The most dicey issues that lie ahead may have to do with the breakup of a Soviet Union armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. However, I’m not sure that this situation is susceptible to resolution through the leaders’ own efforts.

“This summit has sort of brought old-fashioned summitry to a new plateau. In the past the most important issue was avoiding nuclear war; therefore, meetings of presidential minds were crucial. But the world the leaders face and the problems that loom--especially the potential breakup of the USSR and the reunification of Germany--may be less susceptible to their influence. Although this summit is historic, it may be that this kind of summitry itself is less relevant to the problems of the age.”

William Taubman


Professor of political science, Amherst College