In the aftermath of the nuclear war scare, President George Romney decides his highest calling–and his key to reelection in 1972–is to make peace with the Russians and end the Cold War. But will Soviet leader Shelepin play ball? As the clock ticks down to major political shenanigans at home, and both Senators Ronald Reagan and Robert Kennedy position themselves for the game, Romney throws the dice on a high-stakes summit in Oslo with Shelepin to discuss a comprehensive peace treaty. It could be a new dawn for humanity…or another craven trick by the Stalinist Soviet leader.
This episode gets us back to the broader story of U.S.-Soviet diplomacy and brinkmanship. The idea of high-stakes summit meetings was a hot one especially in the early 1970s; in real life Richard Nixon famously met with Soviet leader Brezhnev several times, as did Ford, and in the 1980s Ronald Reagan’s summits with Mikhail Gorbachev finally began to deliver real gains in thawing of the Cold War. This episode structures the fictional Romney-Shelepin summit in the same way some of the real superpower summits were handled. In the story, the “donation” of the Oslo banker’s estate as a site for the summit mirrors what really happened in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1986. Scandinavian countries were frequently the go-to places for diplomatic meetings between American and Soviet opposite numbers at whatever level.
In this episode there is brief mention of the 1972 Munich Olympics. In real life of course those Olympics did occur (the 1972 Winter Olympics were in Sapporo, Japan). The Munich Olympics were disrupted by a terrorist attack by Palestinians against the Israeli Olympic team, who were held hostage for several days. The Olympic Games were often caught up in the tit-for-tat wrangling between the West and Communist blocs.
Next Episode: November 7, 2021