The Cone of Silence

Jason Kottke quotes from Arsenals
of Folly
, the new Richard Rhodes book about the nuclear arms race.  The scene is the
1986 meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland

Back at the American Embassy, Shultz assembled Donald Regan, John Poindexter,
Paul Nitze, Richard Perle, Max Kampelman, Kenneth Adelman, and Poindexter’s
military assistant, Robert Linhard, iTheconeofsilencenside what Adelman calls "the smallest
bubble ever built" — the Plexiglas security chamber, specially coated to repel
electromagnetic radiation and mounted on blocks to limit acoustic transmissions,
that is a feature of every U.S. Embassy in the world. Since the State Department
had seen no need for extensive security arrangements for negotiating U.S.
relations with little Iceland, the Reykjavik Embassy bubble was designed to hold
only eight people. When Reagan arrived, the air-lock-like door swooshed and
everyone stood up, bumping into each other and knocking over chairs in the
confusion. Reagan put people at ease with a joke. "We could fill this thing up
with water," he said, gesturing, "and use it as a fish tank." Adelman gave up
his chair to the president and sat on the floor leaning against the tailored
presidential legs, a compass rose of shoes touching his at the center of the


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