From an article by Spurgeon M. Keeny Jr. in the February issue of Arms Control Today:
Today the START treaty, which will contribute substantially to vital U.S. interests, must not be held hostage to Soviet behavior in Lithuania or to the prolonged turmoil to be anticipated in an ethnically diverse nation emerging from 70 years of Communist dictatorship and 1,000 years of autocracy. President Bush should continue to follow his secretary of state's wise counsel that "any uncertainty about the fate of reform in the Soviet Union, however, is all the more reason, not less, for us to seize the present opportunity." Secretary Baker pointed out that whatever the future might hold, it was in U.S. interests to "consolidate deterrence at lower levels of risk" and "to shape and institutionalize a more stable, predictable strategic relationship."
President Gorbachev, who is uniquely responsible for the remarkable changes in the Soviet Union, has, not surprisingly, decided his first priority is to preserve the union, without which his reforms may well perish. If he is to succeed in this difficult task, we can expect a series of tumultuous civil disturbances throughout the Soviet Union for years to come. If Gorbachev fails, which he may, he will probably be followed by others who will pursue the same policy more ruthlessly, or by the chaotic disintegration of the union. These latter outcomes will more likely lead to civil war and ethnic vendettas than to political and economic reform.
Faced with such an uncertain future, holding summits hostage to day-to-day events undercuts our ability to pursue fundamental U.S. interests and maintain a constructive dialogue with the leadership of the Soviet Union, a nation that still possesses some 25,000 nuclear weapons.