I don’t know how to explain to Trump’s critics something that shouldn’t need explaining.
So repeat after me: a bilateral treaty is only as good as bilateral compliance.
And if one side cheats, it’s to blame for the collapse of the treaty, not the other side that refuses to go on under such circumstances. Still not clear?
Fine, an analogy then. Suppose you’re playing poker against a chap who deals himself four aces from the bottom of the pack. If you then call him a cheat and walk away from the table, who’s to blame for it, you or him? Good. Glad we’ve sorted that out.
Extrapolating from there, one ought to praise President Trump for putting an end to the INF treaty banning the deployment of land-based intermediate-range missiles in Europe.
He and his Foreign Secretary Pompeo correctly point out that Russia is cheating because it has deployed just such a missile system. As a result, the US no longer considers itself bound by the terms of the INF treaty.
Unfortunate but unavoidable, I’d say. Nor can there be any conceivable doubt as to who’s to blame, right?
Well, if you think so, it means only two things. First, you have a logical mind. Second, you haven’t read the international outburst of attacks on Trump, ranging from hysterical to perfidious.
Skipping the first category, let’s focus on the second, as exemplified by Mark Almond, a regular and sympathetic guest on RT.
Writing in today’s Mail, he rues Trump’s decision that creates a situation “far scarier” than the Cold War. That’s regrettable, considering “the Kremlin’s relatively small number of mobile medium-range missiles”.
Relative to what? To the zero number of such missiles deployed by Nato? And how many of those systems does it take to wipe out every European capital, should the spirit move Putin? Well, exactly the same number Putin has already primed: relatively small.
“And in such uncertain times,” continues Dr Almond, “the proliferation of medium-range [the actual term is ‘intermediate-range’, the ‘I’ in INF, but who am I to point this out to the expert] nuclear missiles brings the risk of nuclear war that much closer…”
That’s cleverly done. Who in his right mind can possibly argue with the observation above? No one. Nor can anyone dispute the fact that the US has pulled out of INF.
But when the two statements appear side by side, they implant into the reader’s mind that it’s Trump who’s to blame for this situation. The fault lies with the player who catches the cardsharp by the hand, not with the cardsharp.
Incidentally, why is the present situation “far scarier” than the Cold War? Well, you see, “The Cold War was a neat divide between Washington and Moscow. Now there are other players in the game.”
Indeed there are, and that’s one of the truths that are so useful to throw a smokescreen over a lie. The impression one gets – is designed to get – is that the US amply justified action will encourage a free-for-all for the “other players”, such as China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and those are just the ones we know about.
But, since none of those countries is a signatory to the treaty, they are in no way constrained by its terms. Quite the opposite, by responding to Russia’s double dealing, Trump clearly hopes to replace the treaty Russia has abused with a multilateral arrangement that includes strict verification provisions.
This morning Russia made a song and dance of leaving INF too, in response to American war-mongering. However, Russia de facto left the treaty years ago by cheating – as it has cheated on every arms-limitation treaty before, SALT 1, SALT 2, you name it.
Until yesterday’s announcement, the US (and hence Nato) was the only country whose defence capability was limited by the treaty. Surely the president should be praised for trying to change that iniquity and, one hopes, make the world safer as a result?
Instead Dr Almond repeats, practically word for word, Putin’s mendacious response to the American action. But then he must have learned that language on RT.