It took a while for the United State Government to turn the nuclear disarmament ship around, but now that seems to have happened. Disarmament was a theme of Barack Obama’s foreign policy, even after it became clear that Russia is not living up to past agreements, China’s military ambitions are growing, and Iran is still not agreeing to step back from developing the bomb.
A failure to stand up to Russia, in particular, is dangerous at this juncture. Not content to threaten Ukraine, the Kremlin is trying to cow the Baltics. At present, NATO is woefully unprepared to answer a sophisticated challenge.. At present, NATO is woefully unprepared to answer a sophisticated challenge. The propaganda war and what (before World War II) once was known as “salami tactics” of Russian intimidation have to be answered in a conventional manner, but with updates.
Edward Lucas, author of The New Cold War: Putin’s Russia and the Threat to the West, writes today in the Wall Street Journal, “Russia doesn’t fight according to conventional military timetables. It softens up countries that it wants to dominate, using confusing, unpredictable tactics, with an approach that military experts dub ‘hybrid warfare’. This includes trade sanctions, energy cutoffs…propaganda, cyberattack, the targeted use of organized crime, corruption of politicians–and the incitement of ethnic grievances.”
All of this must be answered.
But the nuclear deference has to be real, meanwhile. Right now, it’s not.
However, news that the U.S. is reversing course on disarmament, even if the actual change takes time, is bound to demonstrate a stiffening will.