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September 25, 1979

Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Poughkeepsie, Dr. Barry Schneider, foreign affairs specialist at the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and Charles Kupperman, defense analyst for the conservative Committee on the Present Danger debated in the Chapel the merits of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II Treaty (SALT II), signed by President Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1979.

Calling the treaty “not only the most important current defense and foreign issue, but the most important treaty since NATO,” Schneider granted Kupperman’s point that “most of the concessions in the SALT II treaty have come from the U.S., not the Soviet Union.” While “SALT II is not ideal,” he countered, “you have to stop before you go back. That’s what SALT II is all about; it’s a benchmark…it’s a groping attempt to get a grip on the strategic arms situation.”

The Soviet invasion of Afganistan shorty after the treaty’s signing and the subsequent revelation that a Soviet combat brigade had been deployed to Cuba doomed its chances for Senate ratification, and although its provisions were honored by both signatories without ratification, President Reagan withdrew from the treaty in 1986.

The Years