Quitting the INF Treaty Is a Serious Mistake

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The Trump administration is preparing to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty thanks to the arms control-hating John Bolton:

The Trump administration has told U.S. allies that it wants to withdraw from the landmark Reagan-era Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, and plans to inform Russian leaders of its position in the coming days, said foreign diplomats and other people familiar with the deliberations.

The planning is the brainchild of Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, who has told US allies he believes the INF puts Washington in an “excessively weak position” against Russia “and more importantly China,” said a diplomat who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.

The president confirmed the intention to withdraw from the treaty this weekend:

President Donald Trump said Washington will exit the Cold-War era treaty that eliminated a class of nuclear weapons due to Russian violations, triggering a warning of retaliatory measures from Moscow.

The treaty has served US and European security well for three decades. Casting aside a landmark arms control agreement risks starting a new destabilizing arms race with Russia at a time when relations with Moscow are already extremely poor. Withdrawing from the treaty amounts to letting Russia off the hook for its recent violations, and it gains the US nothing except the ability to waste more resources on nuclear weapons that we don’t need. Killing the treaty isn’t going to remedy any of the things that critics complain about. China isn’t a party to the treaty and hasn’t been bound by its limitations, but it is difficult to see why the US needs to be able to have land-based intermediate-range ballistic missiles in East Asia in any case. Giving up on an arms control treaty that has been largely successful for European security because it does not address new developments in another part of the world just creates a new problem without fixing any of the others.

Quitting the INF Treaty is just one example of Bolton’s reflexive hostility to any and all nonproliferation and arms control agreements. In addition to supporting withdrawal from the INF Treaty, Bolton is also resisting an extension of New START:

Former US officials say Bolton is blocking talks on extending the 2010 New Start treaty with Russia limiting deployed strategic nuclear warheads and their delivery systems. The treaty is due to expire in 2021 and Moscow has signaled its interest in an extension, but Bolton is opposing the resumption of a strategic stability dialogue to discuss the future of arms control between the two countries.

Extending New START should be an easy national security win for the Trump administration. There is no good reason to oppose the extension, just as there was no good reason to oppose its ratification. Bolton is ideologically opposed to the treaty, which he has previously declared to be “execrable,” and as long as he is National Security Advisor it seems very unlikely that the treaty will be extended. Quitting the INF Treaty and allowing New START to expire would represent the willful destruction of the most important arms control agreements that the US has, and together they will have a very dangerous destabilizing effect on the security of Europe and the US

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.

Why Did an American Hit Squad Kill Politicians in Yemen?

While Washington is in a frenzy over the apparent Saudi government murder of a Saudi Washington Post journalist, little attention is being paid to news that the United Arab Emirates hired an “guns for hire” company founded by an Israeli-American to assassinate members of a political party in Yemen. Pentagon and CIA trained special operations troops were used to carry out the assassinations, including a plan to blow up the party’s headquarters building. While Russian involvement in our elections has yet to be proven, certainly blowing up a foreign political party headquarters and assassinating its leaders qualifies as election meddling. But it’s Ok if we do it? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

The Corporatist War on Free Speech – Are We a Nation of Sheep?

What do we call it when the government outsources censorship to the private sector? And what about when those “private” companies are in bed with government? The latest social media purge of hundreds of alternative news sites guarantees that we will be less informed. Guarantees that our only inputs will be from the government-approved mainstream media outlets. They want to turn us into a nation of sheep. Will we allow them? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Khashoggi Is Only One Reason the US Should Cut Its Saudi Ties

Saudi Arabia has made headlines recently for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. What happened to Khashoggi is certainly tragic, but it’s far from the only crime committed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Despite its history of thuggery, the US has been cozy with the kingdom for decades. Here’s 10 reasons to sever this nefarious alliance with the Saudi kingdom.

  1. There is no political freedom in Saudi Arabia. While most of the world’s monarchies have evolved to lessen the role of royalty, Saudi Arabia remains one of the world’s last absolute monarchies. The Saud royal family picks the king, who then has ultimate authority in virtually every aspect of government. There are no national elections and political parties are banned, as are unions and most civic organizations.
  2. Mohammad bin Salman is falsely hailed as a progressive hero. Since becoming Crown Prince in 2015, Mohammad bin Salman has been credited with a number of reforms, such as granting women the right to drive (despite arresting the very women who advocated for that right). These highly publicized changes serve to distract the global community from bin Salman’s ruthless policies, such as escalating the war in Yemen, cracking down on human rights activists, and increasing the number of executions.
    Continue reading “Khashoggi Is Only One Reason the US Should Cut Its Saudi Ties”

Ron Paul asks: With Nikki Haley Gone, Will Palestinians Get a Better Deal?

Nikki Haley was among the most outspokenly pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian US diplomat in history. She took Washington’s previous policy of unwaveringly backing Israel at the UN to a whole new level. With Nikki gone, will US policy become more even-handed in the Middle East? On today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Congress Members Urge Trump To Meddle in Hungary’s Elections

There’s no hypocrisy like Capitol Hill hypocrisy. Congressional Democrats have been beating the dead horse of “Russian meddling” for nearly two years, obsessed with claims that “Russia hacked our democracy” and that a few Facebook posts from “Russia-linked” accounts are actually a massive Putin-led effort to make Americans lose faith in their democracy.

To date no evidence points to any significant or effective Russian government effort to alter the outcome of US elections in any way. With each passing day we learn more about how the “Russia hacked us” story is just a bunch of hot air. In fact just yesterday, award-winning investigative reporter Gareth Porter published an extensive report demolishing a recent 10,000 word New York Times piece on the “influence” of Russian social media over US elections.

One of the loudest voices screaming “Russia is meddling in our democracy!” has been Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). Last year she signed a letter to the Speaker of the House demanding that Homeland Security and the FBI brief Congress on “the Russian attack on 21 states’ voting systems” (a charge since disproven). The letter complained that “when a sovereign nation attempts to meddle in our elections, it is an attack on our country.”

Continue reading “Congress Members Urge Trump To Meddle in Hungary’s Elections”