Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Most Important Issue At Helsinki

No, folks, it was not the much ballyhooed issue of Russian election interference in 2016, which got so much attention because of Trump's bungled and false statements at the press conference.  Oh yes, for those of us who are convinced he is a bought out stooge of Putin, this all was very delicious, but it was far from the most important issue dealt with in Helsinki.

As always, the most important issue between Russia and the US is nuclear weapons, not Ukraine or NATO expansion eastward or even Putin murdering innocent opponents.  Of course we have this awful problem that we in the US do not know what was discussed for 2 hours privately between Trump and Putin in Helsinki. We are getting claims out of Moscow about supposed deals made, mostly about Syria in terms of specifics, but there remains zero  knowledge among US authorities supposedly responsible for these matters of what the deals are or their details.  As it is, most of the Syrian stuff looks like basically status quo arrangements made on the ground between US and Russian military, most of this dating back to the Obama era.  We needed a summit for this?

Anyway, getting back to the most important issue, nuclear weapons, what we have been provided with is a vague and confused statement: that the INF and "new" START treaties "will be extended."  Well, that sounds nice, but it has some problems, especially with the INF part, although given that START was an Obama treaty with Medvedev, this is some solace given Trump's propensity to simply end anything that Obama did, just because.

The Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) was agreed to in Dec. 1987 by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev.  It is a permanent treaty requiring no special extension.  It bans missiles of intermediate range of especial danger to NATO nations in western Europe.  Until 2014 it was followed by both sides.  Then in 2014 Putin adopted the RS-26 missile that violates the treaty, although he has denied it does.  But US SecDef Mattis thinks it does.

So, what Trump should have had as his top priority in Helsinki and before while visiting NATO allies, whom he dissed, including the EU as our "worst foe," would have been to demand that Putin get rid of the RS-26 missile that violates the INF treaty.  Instead we are told that he and Putin have agreed to "extend" it and the START.  This  is plain awful, but not surprising.

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...

"Oh yes, for those of us who are convinced he is a bought out stooge of Putin..."

After this sort of antagonistic writing, what is the point of going on about weapons or nuclear capability controls? At least write temperately about the matter if you expect a reader to pay attention.

Anonymous said...

My comment reads as harsh, but I do not mean to be at all harsh, only that in a post about nuclear capability controls the language used should be policy oriented and not personally critical in a way that makes the possibility of a diplomatic resolution seem remote at best. I agree with the thrust of the post, however.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I was under the impression that the US arbitrarily set aside the ABM treaty with Russia. Likely in 2002 or 2003. I will check. Also, the US during the Bush years was pushing for missiles in East Europe, missiles that would essentially ring Russia. said...


You are right that the US abrogated the ABM treaty early in the W. Bush presidency, which I publicly disapproved of at the time. On this point Putin's argument have substance, and some of the matters regarding NATO also.

For the record I do not support a neo-Cold War and always think the US prez should be in regular communication with the Russian leader, whatever his official title, although most of this can be handled on a day to day basis as it has been in the hot spot of Syria so far, where the less said publicly the better frankly.

Summits should be for the big stuff, and that is nuclear weapons issues, and that is precisely why I made this post, to emphasize what should be focused on in such a meeting, and as I put in my post, we do not know what they agreed to on any of these really important matters. After all, the most likely way the human species could cease to exist would be via a full-scale nuclear war between US and Russia.

Anonymous said...

Excellent explanatory response.

Thank you.