The year 1984 was heralded by ominous portents not merely literary. As the year began, the Soviet Union, coiled in bitter isolation at the worldwide protests evoked by the destruction of KAL 007, was still threatening reprisals for the NATO missile deployments its earlier threats had failed to stop. The United States was seemingly entrapped in Lebanon and on the verge of a serious conflict with Syria, even as the seizure of Grenada suggested the likelihood of an armed intervention against Nicaragua as well. Western Europe was gripped in a recession so unrelieved as to induce the fear of a secular decline. Debt repudiation seemed imminent in Latin America, threatening a global banking collapse. And, finally, the Iran-Iraq war entered a new and broader dangerous phase that aroused fears for the world's oil supply as both sides began to attack tankers in the Persian Gulf.