Donald J. Trump’s decision to suspend the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty [i] with Russia is another, among many, indications that we are moving into a new arms race pushing the doomsday clock beyond its current 2 minute mark and closer to midnight.
Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said: “This is a colossal mistake. Russia gets to violate the treaty and Trump takes the blame’.
“This is the most severe crisis in nuclear arms control since the 1980’s,” said Malcolm Chalmers, the deputy director general of the Royal United Services Institute. “If the INF treaty collapses, and with the New Start treaty on strategic arms due to expire in 2021, the world could be left without any limits on the nuclear arsenals of nuclear states for the first time since 1972.”
According to the Arms Control Association, “since the mid-2000’s Russia has raised the possibility of withdrawing from the INF Treaty. Moscow contends that the treaty unfairly prevents it from possessing weapons that its neighbors, such as China, are developing and fielding”.
“Russia,” the Arms Control Association reports, “has suggested that the proposed U.S. deployment of strategic anti-ballistic missile systems in Europe might trigger a Russian withdrawal from the accord, presumably so Moscow can deploy missiles targeting any future U.S. anti-missile sites.”
Trumps recent give-away to Putin comes only three-days after, the U.S. intelligence leadership told a Senate panel that China and Russia are working together to challenge U.S. leadership in the world. That, they say, undermines democratic governments and gain military and technological superiority over the United States.
U.S. intelligence has made it clear that the U.S. role in the world is on the cusp of being seriously challenged.
Putin is no fool. He successfully uses Trump to sow distrust both within the U.S. and among Western allies causing them to abandon commitments whenever changed circumstances make those agreements burdensome.
Before abandoning the IMF treaty, Trump:
- Pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal which has brought transatlantic relations to their lowest point since 2003
- Withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran Nuclear deal).
- Is increasing blood-shed in the Gaza Strip by taking a hard-right pro-Israeli position allowing illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank and moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City of Jerusalem
- Incorrectly declared a victory over ISIS and al-Qaida launching an ill-conceived and ill-timed movement of U.S. troops from Syria
- Launched a full-blown trade war thus disrupting global economic growth because of reduced trade volume, supply chain disruptions, and lost confidence.
- Ignited the European Union. “With friends like that, who needs enemies?” Donald Tusk, President of the 28-nation European Council, told reporters as he readied a summit of E.U. leaders largely focused on Trump-ignited brush-fires.
More than two-thirds of Germans describe their country as moving away from the United States, and an equal number describe the relationship as “tense,” according to a survey released in May by the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.
Within the United States Trump is testing the institution of the presidency through his inattention to even the smallest of details, his unimaginable ignorance of the office, his self-destructive behavior, his abuse attacks on the courts, congress and the press. He is the definition of mendacious.
Treaties are critical to the maintenance of world order. They are not perfect. Compliance has always been problematic. All fears cannot be dispelled, but even when violated they do provide some degree of stability for monitoring and planning purposes.
Trump and Putin are pushing the two countries into a new intense and unregulated arms race pushing the doomsday clock beyond its current 2 minute mark and closer to midnight.
Dr. Michael M. McGreer received the Exceptional Civilian Service Medal for his service with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency 2000-2001.
[i] The Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, commonly referred to as the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty, requires destruction of the Parties’ ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, their launchers and associated support structures and support equipment within three years after the Treaty enters into force.