Samantha Smith could have been the spokesman for the Democratic Party on the subject of the conflict between the superpowers. It, too, had a weakness for the "if we could only just be friends" style of analysis. It, too, believed that "nothing could be more important than not having a war." And it, too, failed to see why we couldn't all get along by seeking to know one another better. It was a trope of liberal analysis during this period (and similar arguments are now advanced vis-à-vis other adversaries like the Islamists) that conflicts arise among nations due to "misunderstandings." The cure for these misunderstandings could be found in summit meetings, cultural exchanges, sister city initiatives, pen pal programs, and "space bridges." Because the diagnosis was flawed, the cures were unsuccessful. As it turned out, those who understood the Soviets best were the very "hardliners" so scorned by liberals — a fact that was testified to by many former Soviets after 1991. It wasn't that both nations, essentially benevolent, mistrusted one another due to the accumulation of weapons on both sides in some sort of mad and inexplicable race to destruction. Rather, the Soviets were aggressive and predatory, and the United States (along with its allies) sought to thwart it. When the Moscow regime changed, the so-called "arms race" was over.
Doubtless Samantha Smith's letter to the leader of the USSR was motivated in part by the beliefs of her parents. Her mother, Jane Smith, told reporters that Samantha "thinks it would be better to spend more money on programs for the poor rather than on bombs."
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