President Donald Trump just gave Russia and Vladimir Putin yet another gift by trashing one of former President Ronald Reagan’s most hard-fought achievements during the Cold War.
Negotiated between Reagan and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Missile Treaty helped get the arms race under control by banning both nations from developing conventional missiles that can reach a short or medium distance between 310 to 3,420 miles, paving the way for the end of the Cold War a short time later.
Trump has previously threatened to withdraw from the deal after Putin added such missiles to his arsenal, and Gorbachev warned Trump against doing so because working within the treaty to reign Putin in would be better than starting a new arms race.
But Trump followed through on his threat by suspending the treaty on Friday, a move that now makes it legal for both Russia and the United States to pursue intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
“Tomorrow, the United States will suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty and begin the process of withdrawing from the INF Treaty, which will be completed in 6 months unless Russia comes back into compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers, and associated equipment,” Trump said in a White House statement on Friday.
“The United States has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions,” he continued. “We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other. We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with NATO and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.”
NATO apparently supports the action, but many European officials say that withdrawing from the treaty is a bad idea and fear that former President Obama’s START Treaty will be next to fall.
And Trump’s decision plays right into Putin’s hands says former White House Senior Director Nayyera Haq.
“Overall, we have a president who himself does not see a problem with having a vast array of nuclear weapons,” Haq said on MSNBC in response to Trump withdrawing from the treaty. “In fact, he’s stated several times publicly ‘why do we have nuclear weapons if we’re not using them.’ He also has this association with Putin, several one-on-one meetings where we don’t know what’s discussed. So it seems there may actually be a broader Russia agenda to use Donald Trump to advance Russia’s nuclear interests.”
And Trump did just that by neutering the treaty, which will allow Russia to develop even more intermediate nuclear missile technology, and in the open at that.
“Donald Trump has known the entire time that Russia has been in violation of this treaty,” Haq concluded. “I think it meets Putin’s objective to have a Trump administration and a White House that is not as concerned about nuclear threats and negotiating within the context of a treaty framework. This is all playing into Putin’s hands for how he wants to be the leader in Europe.”
MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell also warned that withdrawing from the treaty could cost the globe billions of dollars if another arms race is triggered.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 1, 2019
Again, this is the response from Trump that Putin likely wanted. It certainly makes arms contractors happy since they stand to make billions off of weapons purchased from militaries around the world.
Reagan is surely spinning in his grave right now because his legacy is being undone by an incompetent fool in the White House who would rather just kill a treaty rather than work within it to fix the problem. This is what happens when we have a president who is inherently lazy. Killing a treaty is easy, using diplomacy to enforce it is hard work, something Trump knows nothing about.
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