As the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States were nearing the end of the Cold War—when fears of nuclear Armageddon were fiercest—President Reagan and Premier Gorbachev met for the first time to hold diplomatic talks on the arms race.
Both were determined to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world, but neither trusted the other to do the same. Amongst heated talks, however, they did manage to agree on one thing.
After a bout of tense negotiations in which Gorbachev was described to be “belligerent”, and Reagan described as “unyielding,” the two leaders went for a private walk, accompanied by just their interpreters.
It wasn’t an interview decades later that we ever learned what they discussed.
In an interview in 2009, Gorbachev said the President had asked Gorbachev if they would be able to set aside their differences if aliens attacked.
“No doubt about it.” –Gorbachev
The President of the United States had asked the Soviet leader if they would have each other’s backs in the face of alien invasion and— without hesitation—the two agreed.
Invasion Never Came
Though no known alien invasions have occurred since the 1985 Geneva Summit, this conversation reveals a fascinating trait of Ronald Reagan: he was a HUGE sci-fi nerd.
Reagan loved reading Edgar Rice Burrough’s Princess of Mars series as a kid. These books have been sighted as inspiration by scientists, engineers, astronauts, and obviously Presidents.
Reagan’s nerd card is all over his presidential policy. He included sci-fi writers in think tanks alongside scientists and military leaders.
His famous Space Defense Initiative was even popularly known as ‘Star Wars’. The administration would dump funds into the program to develop all kinds of futuristic ideas.
The program worked on military applications for satellite-based lasers, particle beams, and even rail guns. Though renamed during the Clinton administration, this program has gone on to build missile-destroying lasers and spherical laser-defense shields.
The government had been developing wacky space inventions since the 60’s. The Future Weapons Office had a program designing weapons to be used on the Moon—and the Soviets had equipped a military space station with cannon.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it’s hard to say if America’s alliance still stands, though if the two superpowers were able to show terrestrial solidarity at the worst of times, I’m hopeful we could still unite. You know, just in case.