Then [George P. Shultz] began talking about reaching not sweeping agreements but "sweeping potential agreements" and praised "the agreement that might have been." And it soon became clear that the conference had been a disaster-a failure of such magnitude that [Ronald Reagan] and [Mikhail S. Gorbachev] could not even agree to hold the Washington summit that had been pledged for later this year.
The Soviet leader himself was somber as he described the failure, putting the blame for it on the stubbornness of Reagan and what he termed Reagan's inability to make a decision without checking with his aides. "The President is not free," Gorbachev said. "He does what the military-industrial complex tells him."
The two leaders had obviously come to work hard and try to reach agreements. After the morning session Sunday, when most people thought agreements were close, Reagan was asked if he and Soviet leader Gorbachev were near agreement. Reagan shrugged and held his hands out as if to ward off the question. No one took the gesture seriously then, but they should have. Failure would come a few hours later.