We’re told that the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty singed in 1987 between the US and Soviet Union was based on claims that Russia had violated it.
While we continue waiting for Washington to provide evidence to prove these claims, the US itself admitted it had already long begun developing missiles that violated the treaty.
A February 2018 Defense One article titled, “Pentagon Confirms It’s Developing Nuclear Cruise Missile to Counter a Similar Russian One,” admitted that:
The U.S. military is developing a ground-launched, intermediate-range cruise missile to counter a similar Russian weapon whose deployment violates an arms-control treaty between Moscow and Washington, U.S. officials said Friday.
The officials acknowledged that the still-under-development American missile would, if deployed, also violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Just as the US did when it unilaterally walked away from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, the goal is to blame Russia for otherwise indefensible and incremental provocations aimed at Moscow. For example, after the US walked away from the ABM Treaty in 2002, the US began deploying anti-missile systems across Europe.
But if Russia is the problem, why did the US also begin deploying similar missiles in Asia?
It is Washington’s goal of hemming in its competitors anywhere and everywhere that is at the heart of these serial treaty terminations, not any particular “violation” on Moscow’s part.
That the US already had missiles under development that would undoubtedly violate the INF Treaty before it accused Russia of such violations, is one indicator of Washington’s true intentions. Another is the fact Washington is rushing to encircle China with both defensive and offensive missile systems as well.
China is not a signatory of either the ABM Treaty or the INF Treaty. Its missiles are deployed strictly within its mainland territory with no plans by Beijing to deploy them anywhere else in the future.
The only threat they pose is to any nation that decides to wage war on China, in or around Chinese territory.
Washington’s behavior post-INF Treaty indicates that it was its intent to violate the treaty all along, creating the same precarious security crisis in Asia the treaty sought to prevent in Europe.
The New York Times in its article, “U.S. Ends Cold War Missile Treaty, With Aim of Countering China,” would explain:
The United States on Friday terminated a major treaty of the Cold War, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, and it is already planning to start testing a new class of missiles later this summer.
But the new missiles are unlikely to be deployed to counter the treaty’s other nuclear power, Russia, which the United States has said for years was in violation of the accord. Instead, the first deployments are likely to be intended to counter China, which has amassed an imposing missile arsenal and is now seen as a much more formidable long-term strategic rival than Russia.
The moves by Washington have elicited concern that the United States may be on the precipice of a new arms race, especially because the one major remaining arms control treaty with Russia, a far larger one called New START, appears on life support, unlikely to be renewed when it expires in less than two years.
Here, the NYT admits that despite Washington claiming its termination of the INF Treaty was prompted by Moscow, its own actions since indicate Washington was already well underway of violating it itself. It did so not only to threaten Russia, but also to threaten China.
After months of accusing Russia of undermining the INF Treaty, the NYT itself reveals it was Washington who solely benefited from it, and specifically in terms of targeting China:
…the administration has argued that China is one reason Mr. Trump decided to exit the I.N.F. treaty. Most experts now assess that China has the most advanced conventional missile arsenal in the world, based throughout the mainland. When the treaty went into effect in 1987, China’s missile fleet was judged so rudimentary that it was not even a consideration.
The prospects of the US signing a new treaty with either Russia or China (or both) are nonexistent. The NYT article also reported that:
Chinese officials have also balked at any attempt to limit their missiles with a new treaty, arguing that the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia are much larger and deadlier.
The NYT fails to mention the other, and perhaps most important factor preventing Beijing from signing any treaty with Washington; Washington has already demonstrated categorically that it cannot be trusted. It just walked away from the INF Treaty based on deliberate lies implicating Russia while Washington all along was developing missiles it planned to deploy around the globe to hem in both Russia and China.
While the Cold War is remembered as a precarious time, it was a time when agreements like the ABM and INF treaties were not only possible, they were signed and for the most part adhered to by two global powers who could agree an uneasy balance of global power was preferable to large scale war (nuclear or not) between the two.
During the Cold War, Washington was confident that it could not only maintain that balance of power, but eventually tip it in its favor, resulting in global hegemony. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the US invasion of Iraq certainly seemed to prove those behind this mindset right. But the window was already closing on the establishment of an uncontested US-led international order.
Today, Russia, China and a number of other emerging regional and global powers have all but assured US hegemony is no longer a viable geopolitical objective. The confidence that allowed the US to sign previous treaties and uphold them along with their Soviet counterparts no longer exists.
We live in a world today where the US has become a tremendous danger to global peace and security. The inability of treaties to exist that were even possible during the tense days of the Cold War takes us into unprecedented and dangerous territory.
Only time will tell if both Moscow and Beijing can find other mechanisms to avoid a dangerous and wasteful arms race in their backyards as a stubborn United States not only refuses to leave, but insists on bringing in incredibly dangerous weapons that will wreck havoc not on the territorial United States, but on the nations of Europe and East Asia should Washington’s desperation progress even further amid its wanning global power.
Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.