From Stephen F. Cohen's analysis of President Donald Trump's threat to withdraw the U.S. from the INF Treaty:
§ Trump gave two reasons for nullifying the INF Treaty: Russia has been violating the agreement by developing a new intermediate-range 'cruise' missile; and China, which was not a party to the treaty, has been developing its own arsenal of such weapons.
There is some truth in both allegations, though none that would have ruled out negotiations to revise, expand, and preserve the treaty. But there was a larger truth that went unmentioned by Trump and by virtually all of the US commentary on his decision.
§ For 20 years, Washington has adopted policies that implicitly, perhaps inexorably, undermined the INF Treaty. In the late 1990s, President Bill Clinton began the eastward expansion of the US-led NATO military alliance to Russia’s borders. In 2002, President George W. Bush unilaterally withdrew the United States from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which prohibited the deployment of missile-defense installations. That prohibition had preserved the certainty of Mutual Assured Destruction in the event of one side launching a first strike, and it kept the nuclear peace since the onset of the nuclear age.
Within a few years, Washington made missile-defense deployment a NATO project and thus its installations accompanied NATO expansion, on land and sea, to Russia’s borders.
Still more, those installments are not only a defensive system. As MIT professor Theodore Postol and others have shown, US-NATO missile-defense installments near Russia now have the [offensive] capacity to launch intermediate-range 'cruise' missiles.
The above passages are from Dr Cohen's October 24 article for The Nation, The Abolition of Nuclear Abolitionism?: "President Trump’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty nullifies a historic precedent."
For a more extensive analysis, listen to his conversation on October 23 with John Batchelor. For those daytime people among Pundita readers who need to stay awake all night sometime this weekend and don't want to rely on caffeine, you can listen to the second part of their talk, during which Steve spells out with agonizing clarity just what's at stake if the United States pulls out of all agreements/treaties with Russia regarding nuclear weapons, as President Trump has been threatening to do.
Believe you me, after one listen you'll be bright eyed and bushy-tailed all weekend.
The first part of the discussion introduces Steve's new book, which is distilled from five years' worth of his weekly conversations with John (during the John Batchelor Show) about defense matters involving Russia, and reviews key events that brought the U.S.-Russia to their present sorry juncture.
Steve, a Russia scholar and one of the world's foremost experts on Russia, warned years before Trump's presidential candidacy that the U.S. was careening toward a new cold war with Russia. The warning has by now been heeded by other Russia experts and by militaries around the world. But it's a little late in the day given that the new cold war has been turning warm. This happened since President Trump came under the impression that negotiating with the Russians about defense matters is the same as hashing out a real-estate deal.
Here are some of Steve's comments about the new book, which give John well-deserved credit:
This is a John Batchelor production! The main theme of the book is that the new cold war is more dangerous than was the preceding one. What strikes me is that there’s been almost no real discussion of this and the big structural issues, including the danger of a nuclear war.********