Slate (USA): now is not the time to start a new arms race

As if the world wasn’t enough chaos and danger…

Thursday, may 21, the special representative of the President of Donald trump on arms control said that he is ready — and eager — to run incredibly costly arms race with Russia and China.

“The President has made it clear that in this matter we have a time-tested practice, said Thursday Marshall Billingsley (Marshall Billingslea), speaking in Gudzonom Institute in Washington. — We know how to win victories in such races, and we know how it is possible to completely destroy the enemy.” He added that “we certainly would like to avoid it”, but “if necessary, we will do that.”

In the framework of the prelude to this campaign, the same day trump announced that the United States out of the Treaty on open skies — agreement on arms control, signed in 1992. This was a predictable continuation of his decision to withdraw from the Treaty on the elimination of intermediate and shorter-range missiles, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed in 1987. Time another extremely important agreement — the new agreement on reduction of offensive arms (start III) was signed by Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, expires in February 2021.

If trump wanted to extend the term of the contract start-III, and Russian do not wish, then it would be clear why you need to threaten the beginning of a new arms race. But really, everything is exactly the opposite: the President of Russia Vladimir Putin repeatedly said that he wants to extend the term of this agreement, and trump didn’t say anything.

Moreover, Billingsley stressed that the United States will discuss the question of extending the Treaty only if it will join China, which is a strange requirement, given that China has a 10 times smaller nuclear long-range weapons than Russia or the United States, and Beijing has no desire to significantly increase the amount. In fact, if the United States will insist on trying to engage China in a contract stipulating the equality of the signatories to it, it can force China to increase significantly its nuclear Arsenal.

We should also say a few words about hit all the Billingsley statement about the ease with which the United States is able to win the arms race and completely destroy their opponents. First, it is not easy. During the cold war, the United States spent trillions of dollars trying to keep up with real and imagined threats from the Soviet nuclear forces. We won the cold war not because we “won” the arms race. The Soviet political system was completely depleted due to many factors: the stagnation in the economy, a huge area of the Empire, the lost war in Afghanistan.

Reagan plans to establish a missile defense system “Star wars” — many Russians with a touching naivety believed that this system really can earn — has played a role during his first term. However, of key importance was begun in the second term, the reversal in the direction of the Soviet Union and the emphasis on signing agreements on arms control with the new Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Second, given the current coronavirus crisis that devastated our Treasury and after that our economy will recover in a few years, now may not be the most opportune moment to brag about the power that we give our cash reserves. The Pentagon already plans to spend $ 1.7 trillion over the next 30 years on modernizing the U.S. nuclear Arsenal — that is, to replace the existing weapons in new weapons given the prescribed in the start-III limits on the number of missiles, bombers and warheads. In the U.S. Congress, increasingly there are calls to reduce the military budget as a whole in the face of more urgent threats. Most likely, the idea of further expansion of the nuclear Arsenal will not find strong support.

Third, our constrained financial position is unlikely to become a serious obstacle if we really needed to increase our nuclear Arsenal. But in fact no senior officer, no senior official has never said that we need more nuclear long-range weapons. Some say that we need a new weapon or a weapon of a different type, but no one suggests that those 1,550 warheads and bombs that start-III is allowed to have, is not enough for our mission.

In short, there is no point to engage in a new arms race, regardless of whether we can “win” or not, if it can be prevented by following just one simple step: extend the duration of start – III. Billingsley and some other officials complain that Russia has not fulfilled the terms of many agreements. However, no one would seriously argue that Russia violated the start-III is the most important Treaty that limits the number of nuclear weapons that Russia and the United States can apply against each other.

The new start Treaty also contains clauses that stipulate the conduct of reciprocal inspections, as well as bilateral forums to discuss the alleged violations — that is, it allows each party to monitor compliance with its terms by the other party. If this agreement will last, there will remain the same and these points. And we will return to a world that existed before the signing of the first agreements on strategic weapons in 1972. Until the armed forces of both countries were preparing for the developments on the “worst case scenario” and, justifying it, building up their arsenals. Agreement on arms control allow to establish a framework for pessimistic predictions of the intelligence services of both countries — and thus the framework for the insatiable appetites of the hawks.

The Treaty on open skies is not as vital as the start-III, but it is very useful, and the rejection makes no sense. This Treaty, signed in 1992, the United States, Russia and 32странами — including 27 of the 30 countries of the NATO enables member countries to take over foreign territories for surveillance flights to monitor the actions of the armed forces.

Since the Treaty’s entry into force in 2002, participating countries made more than 800 such flights. Ukraine is several times used this contract to monitor the movements of Russian troops along its Eastern border. Several times Russia has refused to give permission for the Commission of such flights, and the Americans were allowed to join the American mission, which Russia did not block.

The purpose of this contract, the idea for which was first raised by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955 (when the Soviet Union rejected this idea), is to create an atmosphere of trust between countries, and this goal was achieved.

Critics argue that Russia has used the Treaty on open skies, from the air to take photos of key elements of the us infrastructure, which it can later commit cyber attacks. But this argument totally unconvincing. First, in accordance with the Treaty on open skies countries can photograph whatever they please, but they have to share the obtained data with other parties to the Treaty (and the Russians did). Secondly, if the Russian wanted to get photos of key elements of the us infrastructure, they easily could do it through commercial satellites.

Finally, although in fact the United States does not need the open skies Treaty to collect intelligence, because we have many high-end satellites, our European allies continue to use this contract to conduct overflights, and they are not ready to get out of it.

In fact, high-ranking officers of the us armed forces too, like the Treaty. In October, when reports surfaced that the trump could sign a Memorandum, which stated the need to exit from this agreement, the Strategic command of the armed forces of the United States, which carries out these flights (and controls the nuclear Arsenal), tweeted that it “supports the Treaty on open skies, which allows you to make a peaceful, unarmed flights over more than 30 countries, to monitor the armed forces and their actions. This helps to build confidence and to enhance transparency”.

In fact, few have called for the rejection of the Treaty on open skies to the moment when trump Advisor for national security John Bolton (John Bolton). Bolton has long been known as someone who is fundamentally opposed to any international agreements — and even against international law. One of his assistants Tim Morrison (Tim Morrison) was the only official who insisted on the withdrawal of the United States from the Treaty on open skies, and he kept insisting on this even after the resignation of Bolton. What Morrison has made the above mentioned memo to trump. Morrison, who is now an analyst at the conservative Hudson Institute, wrote an article published may 21 in the New York Times in which he defended the decision to withdraw from the Treaty, forgetting, however, to mention that he offered to do it.

Morrison worked in the team of Senator John kila (Jon Kyl), which in 2010 has forced President Barack Obama to agree to increase spending on nuclear weapons on tens of billions of dollars, promised to support the start-III in Congress, and then still voted against the Treaty. Once I asked a former assistant Qila (not Morrison) to explain how this could happen. The assistant replied, “He just doesn’t like the idea of arms control”.

Billingsley, the new representative of the trump on arms control, offering to unleash a new arms race, refers to the same type of people. He worked as an assistant to Jesse Helms (Jesse Helms) who, as a leading Republican (and some time even the President) to the Senate Committee on foreign relations, opposed all agreements on arms control, discussed in Congress for the last two decades of the 20th century.

In short, we now drag in an unnecessary arms race are the ideologues of the cold war, which still occupy influential positions, and the President, who also do not like multilateral agreements, as well as Cabinet Ministers, which are characterized by the lack of principles and willingness to fulfill any whim of the boss, go on about them. (Memorandum on the need to withdraw from the Treaty on open skies was on the table trump without prior consideration by the national security Council, joint chiefs of staff or any other organ.)

But there is good news. The defence budget for this year requires that trump has notified the U.S. Congress on the withdrawal from the Treaty on open skies for 120 days. If trump gets out of the contract early, the chairmen of the relevant committees in Congress will be able to declare his actions illegal. Thus, if in January the office will take a new US President, he will be able to resume overflights, as if nothing had happened.