In 1987, the United States signed a treaty with the Soviet Union which banned certain ballistic missiles.
The treaty, according to The Hill, is credited with helping bring the Cold War to a close.
This is all fantastic, but it’s been nearly 28 years since the USSR gave us a Boxing Day gift and officially dissolved on Dec. 26, 1991.
In reality, it’s been 30 years since the event that signaled the imminent dissolution of the Soviet bloc — the fall of the Berlin Wall — happened. There’s no particular reason for that treaty’s existence except for the fact that it provided the Russians a modicum of power over American armament and made the Kremlin happy.
Well, consider the Kremlin unhappy.
According to Defense News, the United States on Thursday tested a “ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers.”
That missile would have been forbidden under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the 32-year-old pact the Trump administration pulled out of earlier this year.
“The U.S. Air Force, in partnership with the Strategic Capabilities Office, conducted a flight test of a prototype conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California,” a statement from Pentagon spokesman Robert Carver read.
“The test missile exited its static launch stand and terminated in the open ocean after more than 500 kilometers of flight. Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”
Video of the missile’s launch sparked a lot of speculation online, with Defense News noting that “the missile-sleuthing community on Twitter went to work, quickly honing in on the possibility that the weapon was a modified version of a ballistic missile defense target missile used in ballistic missile defense tests.”
“If so, that would fit in with the participation of the SCO, whose charge is to take existing systems in the Pentagon’s arsenal and tweak them to create new opportunities for use,” Defense News reported.
The Trump administration’s Defense Department argued the treaty had been violated by Russia, which is why they exited it. Russia says that’s not the case. The United States also claimed the treaty didn’t serve our interests anymore. It’s pretty clear that is the case.
The test, according to The Hill, was the second that would have been banned under the treaty since the United States exited the agreement.
In August, we also tested a missile that would have violated the INF Treaty.
At the time, Russia said we were “escalating military tensions.”
Anything that roils the Russkies militarily is a pretty good thing, one would think.
But when news broke last last year that the treaty would be scuppered, The New York Times called it a “landmark” pact “which grew out of President Ronald Reagan’s historic meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986.”
“Now that the treaty is largely in tatters, the question is whether the decision to leave it will accelerate the increasingly Cold War-like behavior among the three superpowers: the United States, Russia and China,” the article read.
First, it’s worth noting The Times admitted Russia was violating the treaty and China, never a signatory, was developing weapons that fell under the aegis of the pact without the United States being able to counter.
The Obama administration also accused the Russians of violating this treaty, even though they never decided to test missiles of their own.
How America’s withdrawal was going to “accelerate the increasingly Cold War-like behavior among the three superpowers” when it merely meant the United States could be able to compete on equal footing is beyond me.
Second, think about that language for a second.
In 1987, the Nintendo Entertainment System was a “landmark” video game system, the Amiga was a “landmark” computer and glasnost was a “landmark” opening up of the Soviet Union’s political systems by Gorbachev.
All three of those things have been superseded by time and events. So has the INF treaty. Pacts that limit our military capability, particularly when they’re being violated by the other party, aren’t a good thing.
Adding intermediate-range ballistic missile capability is a good thing, meanwhile.
Then again, it’s curious to think how this will be spun as a capitulation to the Kremlin and Putin by President Donald Trump. It hasn’t yet, mind you, but where there’s a will…
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