What Good Is a New Cold War without a New Arm$ Race?

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 2 Sep 2019

Ann Garrison | Black Agenda Report – TRANSCEND Media Service

7 Aug 2019 – The US and Russia are closer to annihilating each other and the world than ever before, but Democrats think Trump is too friendly with Putin.

Trump is pursuing probably the most aggressive foreign policy that any US president has pursued in a long time.”

Last week the US was shocked by the shooter who gunned down three people and injured 15 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, then the shooter who gunned down 22 and injured two dozen more in El Paso, then the shooter who gunned down nine and injured 27 in Dayton. On August 2, between the Gilroy and El Paso shootings, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, also known as the INF Treaty, expired, and the US announced  plans to develop weapons systems the treaty had banned.

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev negotiated and signed the INF Treaty in 1987, and the US Senate approved it in 1988. After the fall of the Soviet Union it became a treaty between the US and the Russian Federation. It prohibited both the US and the Soviet Union from possessing, testing, and deploying ground-launched, nuclear-weapons-capable cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 300 and 3400 miles, which might be used to fight a war in Europe. During the New Cold War, both sides began sparring back and forth as to whether one or the other might be violating the treaty, and in July 2014, the US State Department alleged that Moscow was indeed in violation. Then, before leaving office, President Obama announced a trillion-dollar nuclear weapons upgrade.

In October 2017, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that the nuclear weapons budget that President Trump had inherited from President Obama would cost $1.2 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars between fiscal years 2017 and 2046, and said that would amount to about six percent of war and weapons spending anticipated for that period.

“Before leaving office, President Obama announced a trillion-dollar nuclear weapons upgrade.”

US taxpayers pay far more than Russians for weapons “parity” because we pay our war and weapons industries to manufacture parity in excess. Russian President Vladimir Putin recognizes instead that parity is parity and manufactures only weapons essential to achieving it. He’s vowed not to let the arms race bankrupt the Russian Federation as it did the Soviet Union.

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, speaking on the first CN Live! webcast , said, “Now if you know anything about the way the Pentagon works, you know there’ll be cost overruns. So we’re essentially talking about $3 to $4 trillion dollars to turn around and refurbish our nuclear arsenal, which of course is against the law because we’ve signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and there’s a section in there that says we have to continue making an effort to reduce our nukes down to zero but we’re going in the opposite direction.”

In October 2018, President Trump announced that the US would withdraw from the INF treaty, repeating the State Department’s 2014 allegation that Russia had developed a missile violating its terms and thereby threatening NATO nations. Russia denied the allegation, but the US insisted that Russia destroy all its new 9M729 missiles and Russia refused. The US followed through on its announcement, withdrawing from the treaty in February, and Russia followed suit.

“Putin has vowed not to let the arms race bankrupt the Russian Federation as it did the Soviet Union.”

Speaking on the August 2 CN Live! , Hungarian scholar George Szamuely marveled that Democrats criticize Trump’s allegedly close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin despite Trump’s withdrawal from the INF treaty and other forms of aggression towards Russia:

Trump is pursuing probably the most aggressive foreign policy that any US president has pursued in a long time. I mean, this is a very, very aggressive policy. On Iran, on Russia, on China. 

And how are the Democrats responding? They say he’s not aggressive enough, but what he’s been doing on Russia has been quite extraordinary. I mean, he’s walked out on a major arms control treaty [the Intermediate Range Nuclear Force Treaty]. And he’s about to let another major arms control treaty lapse [New START, a long range nuclear missile treaty scheduled to expire in 2021]. And how are the Democrats responding? ‘Why,’ they ask, ‘are you being so friendly with Putin?’ 

It’s just mindless. Instead of saying, ‘Hey, we’re spiraling towards what could be a nuclear confrontation,’ they’re saying, ‘Oh, he’s being really friendly with Putin. Putin has got something on him.’

This is a very, very aggressive policy. On Iran, on Russia, on China.”

And what’s their evidence for that? ‘Oh,’ they say, ‘he doesn’t say anything mean about Putin in public and he kind of has a friendly banter with him. That proves that Putin has something on him!’ 

Never mind all the other things he’s done like walking out on the INF Treaty. Never mind about sending arms to Ukraine. Instead they say, ‘Oh, y’know he doesn’t call Putin names in public.’ 

It’s just nuts, and that’s the Democratic Party.”

Yes, it is nuts. It’s nuts, crackerjacks, and jawbreakers. But why should we expect Democrats to disagree with the military-industrial recklessness that escalates from one administration to the next, Democrat or Republican? It’s almost enough to make one imagine that a deep state remains in control behind the scenes.

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George Szamuely is a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute, a CN Live! commentator, and author of the book Bombs for Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia .

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended Stanford University and is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. In 2014 she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at @AnnGarrison or ann@kpfa.org .

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