Reagan’s chief arms control negotiator dies, 92

Leading U.S. statesman, Ambassador Max Kampelman died last Friday. He has been credited with shaping US policy in the arena of human rights relations with the Soviet Union in the early 1980s, and as helping to create the diplomatic conditions that preceded the end of the Cold War. He was also later responsible as head of the US negotiators for steering through the crucial reductions in nuclear arms in the INF and START treaties. It was for these achievements that he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the US’ highest civilian award) and a Library of Congress “Living Legend” award. Amb. Kampelman was intimately involved in the evolution of President Reagan’s proposal for moving to zero, a discussion the President had on several occasions with Mikhail Gorbachev in the lead-up to their ground-breaking summit at Reykjavik in 1986. Reagan insisted that nuclear weapons were “totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization.”

BASIC facilitated and hosted a visit to London in July 2007, where Amb. Kampelman met senior officials and Parliamentarians. In his speech at Westminster he said:
“We must keep in mind that the indispensable initial ingredient for action is leadership in reasserting the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons – the “ought”. Only by clearly committing to the “ought” can we change the “is” of our day and achieve our shared vision of a better world for our children and grandchildren.”

Max leaves an important legacy as someone close to the heart of power who to the last was driven by principal and vision, seeing it as his personal responsibility to explain Reagan’s idealistic approach. Washington Post has an obituary here:

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