Pierce begins in his piece on abandonment of the INF Treaty in Esquire Magazine reminiscing about his youth, when Europe, The United States and the former Soviet Union bristled with nuclear missiles, but when also it was understood (wink, wink) that a quick trip to the basement, averting one’s eyes or ducking under a desk were sufficient to stave off incineration.
He then quotes the Washington Post to explain why Pompeo, Bolton and Trump deem it necessary to return to those halcyon days of stupidity:
The demise of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty raises fears of a new nuclear arms race, although U.S. officials discount the risk. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States is suspending participation in the agreement, starting a six-month countdown to a final U.S. withdrawal. That leaves a slim chance that Russia could end missile programs widely seen as a violation, salvaging the treaty. The United States accuses Moscow of violating the agreement since 2014.
“For years Russia has violated the terms of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty without remorse,” Pompeo said, adding that the United States has continued to meet its obligations while seeking to get Moscow to come into compliance. “When an agreement is so brazenly disregarded and our security is so threatened, we must respond,” he added.
So their argument goes, to paraphrase Peter Arnett during the Vietnam war, “It became necessary to destroy the treaty to save it.”
But Charlie ain’t buying.
“Can we pause here for a moment and remember that Mike Pompeo is a jumped-up Tea Party congressman from Kansas who is in the upper levels of the national executive only because he climbed aboard the Trump Train and was standing there when it was determined that Rex Tillerson needed to go? He has enabled all of the president*’s worst instincts on foreign policy, and this move is only the latest example. There is no “good” member of this Cabinet—only fools, grifters, and incompetents. It is quite striking in its uniformity in this regard….
I’m not sure how giving Vladimir Putin everything he wants is supposed to hurt him, but I am not the Secretary of State. This is an odds-on decision to start another nuclear arms race in Europe, which can only hype up the ambitious Russian ganglord’s dreams of a gangster-capitalist new USSR. The INF Treaty was one of the Reagan Administration’s shining accomplishments, and one of the first indications that Mikhail Gorbachev was a real reformer.”
He goes on to quote arms-control expert Joseph Cirincione to add some inside baseball to the discussion.
“Maybe that is why no one wants them. No government in Europe or Asia is calling for these weapons or offering to host them. In the 1980s, deployments of nuclear weapons into Europe brought millions of Europeans into the streets in sustained protests. This time, the decision to pull down yet another security pillar in the trans-Atlantic alliance will deepen an already growing divide. “Of course, it will widen the rift between Europe and America,” former British diplomat and director of the European Leadership Network Adam Thomson told me this week, “European governments will look even more intensely at how they can provide for their own security.” It will not be as insulting to European leaders as Trump’s violation of the Iran anti-nuclear deal, he said. Europeans saw that agreement as the crowning achievement of European Union security diplomacy. But it will burn.
Perhaps that is why the decision to jettison the INF Treaty did not come from the State Department (which normally has jurisdiction over treaties), but out of Bolton’s National Security Council. Bolton has an obsession with tearing down the treaties, legal arrangements, and global governance councils created by Republicans and Democrats over the past 70 years. He views treaties as tools of the global Lilliputians to tie down the American Gulliver. Bolton insists that maintaining U.S. global dominance requires that the U.S. have a massive spectrum of conventional and nuclear options. “Violations give America the opportunity to discard obsolete, Cold War-era limits on its own arsenal, and upgrade its military capabilities to match its global responsibilities,“ Bolton wrote with former Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Yoo.”
Of course, abrogation of the INF redounds to Putin’s advantage, which is probably why Bolton and Trump insisted upon it and Pompeo went along.
Putin does not have to worry about the opinions of allies to deploy his new generation missiles to threaten Europe, and our allies are not only skeptical of Trump for good reason, but they have also been absolutely alienated by his actions.
If Russian has violated the INF that is the reason for more sanctions, not the easing of existing ones.
There are no good reasons to scrap it, but two very bad ones.
1.) Procure the approval of Putin, which Trump so obviously craves….or…
2.) Unleash a new arms race to drive the profits of the arms manufacturers.
As Charles concludes…
“Which way to the basement?”