The three immediate issues (regarding U.S.-Soviet relations) are whether it is worth pursuing a total ban on nuclear testing abandoned in the late '70s, whether the installation of missiles by both sides in Europe should be reversed and what the next Reagan-Gorbachev summit should be about. If the disagreement about nuclear testing was concerned only with the modernization of weapons it could probably be resolved, but that is no longer the core of the argument. The production of laser beams for the Strategic Defense Initiative demands a different technology from that used to cause explosions, and without them it may be unfeasible for the Americans to research and develop their system. . . .

Agreement on either nuclear tets or intermediate-range missiles would be good enough reason for the summit in the United States provided for at Geneva, but in the absence of both it is not clear what the two leaders would be talking about. The United States wants a far wider agenda than the Russians. . . .

Endless arguments about these three questions do not in themselves account for the current disaffection between the U.S. administration and the center-left, even some of the right, in Europe. What possibly counts for more is that the United States appears to have made the worst assumption about Soviet policy -- that it is the same old propaganda we heard from Molotov onward -- without putting that assumption to the test. The Americans could be right, of course. Their critics in Europe may all be hopelessly naive. The critics can reply that with American policy as bullish as it has been all this year there will never be a chance to examine and then either prove or disprove that serious charge.