In this morning’s post, Jeff from On the Fence Voters made the very salient point that we need to focus less on Trump’s rhetoric, and more on what he is actually doing. I fully agree, and as an example, one thing that nobody seems to be talking about is the fact that today ends the INF treaty that was signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.
In 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which led to the removal of more than 2,600 U.S. and Soviet nuclear and conventional ballistic missiles — specifically, ground-based weapons systems with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310 and 3,417 miles). That proximate distance, and the fact that they could hit their targets within 10 minutes, made such missiles the source of constant fears of miscalculation during the Cold War era.
The landmark agreement, backed by a verification process and inspections on both sides, effectively eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons. It lifted the veil of permanent nuclear threat that hung over Europe. It also launched a lengthy subsequent process under which both Washington and Moscow reduced their nuclear arsenals.
In February, Trump announced that the U.S. would be exiting the INF Treaty in six months, citing long-standing U.S. complaints that Russia was violating the treaty’s terms with the development of a new land-based, nuclear-capable cruise missile. The Russians first denied the existence of the missile but now claim its range is under 500 kilometers (310 miles).“Now that the treaty is over, we will see the development and deployment of new weapons,” said Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. The United States also is believed to be developing at least three new types of medium-range missiles — all of them intended to carry conventional warheads.
Jan Techau of the German Marshall Fund warned that the collapse of the INF Treaty is “the most visible proof” of the shifting geopolitical winds …
“Washington calculated that in order to regain strategic parity with China in this field, it was worth sacrificing European stability.”
National Security Advisor John Bolton recently indicated that he also wants to end the Obama-era New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which expires in 2021. Another historic agreement, it limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by the United States and Russia. Similar to their grievances with the INF agreement, Bolton and his ilk argue that New START is insufficient for the present moment and complain that it did not include short-range or tactical nuclear weapons — no matter that the treaty was not intended to address those sorts of capabilities.
This seems to be the mentality of Trump and Co these days: If something isn’t good enough or strong enough, rather than work toward making it better, just trash it. This is exactly what Trump attempted to do with the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). There were problems, it needed tweaking, but rather than iron out the problems, rather than work toward improving it, building on the foundation, Trump tried to ditch the whole thing. This amounts to what is called “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”.
Here’s what some of the experts are saying …
“There is a very real risk that the whole security architecture around nuclear non-proliferation that was built up during the decades of superpower confrontation may collapse, through neglect, miscalculation and ill-founded threat analysis.” – former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
“This is serious. The INF treaty has been a cornerstone in arms control for decades, and now we see the demise of the treaty.” – Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
“When something like the INF goes down the drain almost like nothing, it shows you the degree to which people have forgotten the power of these weapons. One day it’ll be too late.” – George Shultz, the U.S. Secretary of State who was instrumental in negotiating the 1987 INF Treaty
The entire world would be safer without nuclear weapons. Period. Were it in my power, I would see them all destroyed … every last one. Today, the world became a little less safe … well no, actually a lot less safe, for far too many of those nuclear weapons are in control of power hungry madmen. It would seem we are in a race to see whether mankind will destroy itself by destroying the environment, or by blowing up the world with nukes. As George Shultz said, “One day it’ll be too late”.