Regarding Julie's post below
on Russia's missile defense technology sharing demands in the new START Treaty negotiations, our good-hearted liberal friend Joel Mathis weighs in with a comment thread to say, essentially, "And so's your old man!"
Ronaldus Magnus, he reminds us, proposed to share missile technology with the Soviet Union; why should we be reluctant now to consider the same thing?
To wit, three observations. First, I recall Walter Mondale, even as he opposed Reagan's SDI initiative, also said it would be irresponsible to share the technology with the Soviet Union if we had it. Another great example of how Reagan tied liberals in knots. Second, this was one feature of Reagan's diplomacy that most annoyed Gorbachev. Whenever Reagan brought up the "sharing" idea at summits, Gorbachev would say he found the idea simply incredible. You won't even sell us advanced farm equipment, he complained; what makes you think I can believe that you'd share advanced defense technology with us (especially since Gorbachev knew that Reagan knew the USSR was cheating on the ABM Treaty)? Reagan never had a very good answer to this.
Moreover, Gorbachev argued sensibly, why do you need missile defense at all if we both disarm? Here Reagan's answer partly anticipates the present moment. Because, Reagan argued at the Reykjavik summit, rogue nations 20 years from now may develop nuclear weapons and acquire ballistic missiles. He named Libya as one specific possibility. (I suppose it would have been too awkward to mention Iran, since Reagan was selling them weapons at that very moment.) Which brings me to the salient point: While today's Russia is less of a direct threat to the US than was the Soviet Union at the peak of it might, it is arguably more of a problem for the reason other respondents to Joel's comment point out: what makes us think Russia won't divulge our technology to Iran and other bad actors? I have little doubt that Reagan would be much less likely to share missile technology today. In this he'd resemble an example of Churchill's essay "Consistency in Politics:"
[A] statesman in contact with the moving current of events and anxious to keep the ship of state on an even keel and steer a steady course may lean all his weight now on one side and now on the other. His arguments in each case when contrasted can be shown to be not only very different in character, but contradictory in spirit and opposite in direction: yet his object will throughout have remained the same. His resolves, his wishes, his outlook may have been unchanged; his methods may be verbally irreconcilable. We cannot call this inconsistency. In fact it may be claimed to be the truest consistency. The only way a man can remain consistent amid changing circumstances is to change with them while preserving the same dominating purpose.
The circumstances today are vastly different that under the bipolar world of the US--USSR. I suspect Reagan today would share technology with allies against the rogues and not with Russia; he'd want partnerships with nations more reliable than Russia, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, who are keen to deploy our missile defenses. Oh wait--that's right: Obama gave that away already, canceling our deployment plans with those countries.