The events in the Soviet Union are having a tremendous impact on the Gorbachev-Bush arms talks starting today in Washington. Here is how some leading American experts are predicting the exchanges will go.
President Gorbachev opens the conversation with, "Mr. President, as you say in your country, I am willing to deal. For openers, I will give up 3,540 intercontinental ballistic missiles."
"Good, and what do you want in exchange?"
"Three thousand five hundred and forty 7-Elevens."
"I don't understand," President Bush says.
"My people no longer demonstrate for missiles, but they are dying for convenience stores."
Bush tells Gorbachev, "It isn't my decision. I'll have to go to Congress with that."
"Don't take too much time. I could be out on my ear. Now, Mr. President, what do you want from us?"
"We are asking you to give up all your strategic bombers and blow up every nuclear warhead in your arsenal," Bush says.
Gorbachev replies, "It's possible, but we cannot do that unless you give us something in exchange."
"We want your entire Frank Perdue chicken production for the next five years."
"Are you mad?" sputters Bush. "This country needs all the poultry it can get. The Defense Department would never let me give away our chickens to a nation that still maintains the largest standing army in the world."
"Mr. President, you are aware of what is going on in the U.S.S.R.? The people are very upset at the food shortages. We've had riots in Armenia, Lithuania and Latvia. Estonia doesn't love me, either. I must have something to offer the citizens of my country, and I am willing to abandon every weapon to do it."
"Mr. Gorbachev, arms reduction isn't as simple as it used to be. The only way you can prove to us that you are sincere about perestroika is to invest in American junk bonds."
"Mr. President, we will bury every cruise missile we have if you promise to build 3,400 Safeway stores in Siberia -- but they must come with food in them."
"You drive a hard bargain, Mr. Gorbachev."
"It's to your advantage to see that the Soviet people are happy. You made a good start with McDonald's in Moscow, but that doesn't mean you won the hearts and minds of the Soviet consumer's stomach."
"What would it take for you to give up Soviet conventional forces in Europe?"
"Ten thousand Dairy Queens and every Dunkin' Donuts east of the Mississippi. It's the only way I can calm down the opposition in the Ukraine."
"Mr. Gorbachev, I wasn't prepared for these demands. We're willing to give up certain things like fixed-wing bombers and aircraft carriers, but when you demand Dairy Queens, you're asking for the moon. The next thing I know you'll be wanting International House of Pancakes franchises."
"I was about to bring that up."
"Then what it boils down to is you are demanding nothing but consumer goods and, in exchange, all you are offering is to destroy heavy war equipment. Why?"
"We have a new saying in the Soviet Union: 'Better fed than Red.' "