Nearly thirty-one years ago, the United States and Russia, two warring nations lost in a jingoistic nightmare, came together at a tense negotiating table to put an end to decades of mutual mistrust and fear. The result that December day was the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a considerable step forward for not just Russian-US relations but the world at large.
Just a hair over thirty years later, along comes Donnie Trump shouting the same thing he’s hollered in the face of every woman unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of his orange-tinted thinger: This isn’t fair and “we’re going to pull out.”
Okay, So What’s the INF Treaty?
There are several anti-nuke agreements (https://www.armscontrol.org/print/2556) that exist between the U.S. and Russia, so if you’re not familiar with the INF Treaty, it’s totally understandable. Here’s the blow-by-blow in a nutshell:
All the way back in the 1980’s there was this thing called the Cold War (remember Atomic Blonde?). It sucked because two powerful(ish) nations — the United States and Russia — were convinced a) that the other one wanted to blow them off the map and b) an escalation of nuclear weapons was the only possible solution.
Exhausted by that kind of persistent anxiety, US President Ronald Reagan and Russian head fella Mikhail Gorbachev got together to confess that — surprise! — they had no vested interest in annihilating the other. As a result, the INF Treaty was forged.
The deal proposed both nations get out of the intermediate-range nuke game altogether, beginning with the immediate cessation of production on intermediate-range missiles. From there, both countries agreed to scale back their massive arsenal of nuclear weapons over the course of the next several years.
Sounds pretty reasonable, right?
So, Why Is Old Donny T So Agitated?
Okay, on the level, Trumpenstein’s flawed decision IS based on one troubling fact. Fact-based reasoning may seem odd for the Donald, but you have to remember that his worst decisions stem from taking one fact and cramming it through the unrelenting meat grinder that is his own paranoia, bigotry, and pervasive stupidity.
So, the one fact Trump is working with is this: sneaky-assed Vladimir Putin hasn’t been great about adhering to the nitty and the gritty of the INF Treaty. In 2014, and every year since reports circulated that Russia violated the INF Treaty by building missiles that could travel further than the 500-kilometer cutoff established by the INF Treaty. For their part, Vlad played the whole thing super adult by responding, “Nu-uh! We’re not building missiles, you guys are building missiles! So there!”
Even more irritating, there are also reports that China — a country that isn’t even bound by the terms of the deal — could be developing its own treaty-smashing missiles.
In other words: Donald Trump’s playground-level reasoning is simple: if other nations aren’t playing by the rules, I shouldn’t have too, either!
Don’t Want to Listen to Me? Try Rand Paul
Since Trump made the startling announcement, several prominent figures have come out in opposition to the maneuver. Original signer Mikhail Birthmark-Face called the decision, “Not the work of a great mind.” That’s the Russian equivalent of calling Donald Trump a drool-stained mongoloid. But don’t take his word for it — after all, can you really trust a Ruskie?
If you happen to be reading this and you vote for the GOP, then don’t take my word for it, either. After all, I’m just a liberal zombie spouting the truths allowed by my vegan-loving, pro-diversity, universal-healthcare-supporting sham of a way of life. So, let’s put the onus on a guy conservatives appreciate, Mr. Rand Paul, a man who typically looks (and thinks) like a tumor that grew teeth. On the issue of the INF Treaty, however, Mr. Paul has the right idea.
Speaking to Fox News, Rand Paul said in no uncertain terms that it would be a “big, big mistake to flippantly get out of this historic agreement. This was a big part of Reagan’s legacy, and we should not get rid of it. It was an important step. We went from 64,000 nuclear-tipped missiles down to 15,000.”
And, unlike Trump’s numbers, Rand Paul’s numbers are accurate. Say what you will about the buck-toothed Q-tip, he doesn’t trade in lies. Oh, and you know what?
While We’re Talking About Reagan’s Legacy …
If there’s one modern-day politician who inspires universal adoration among the Republican masses, it’s Ronald Reagan, the man who oversaw the decade to which all of our parents secretly wish they could return.
It was Reagan, alongside Gorbachev, who de-escalated the Cold War with the ultimate goal of eliminating nuclear weapons altogether. Here he is saying it himself:
Once you get passed the ‘Star Wars’ crap, Reagan’s goal is universally admirable. Eliminate nukes. Period. Say what you will about the man, but that’s an aim we can all get down with.
Okay, Reagan … Great, But Russia Is Still Ramping Up
You’d be forgiven for reading all that above and coming back to that same basic assertion: Those other dicks are breaking the rules, why shouldn’t we? Screw Reagan. And his legacy. Maybe on this ONE point — ugh — Donald Trump is … correct. That’s fair. Hell, I’ll even forego the whole “We should hold ourselves to a higher standard” argument (because it’s bogus when you’re talking about nuclear war).
The primary reason that Trump’s declaration is flat-out dangerous is that it eliminates any appearance of diplomacy. Not only could this kind of international policy kick off another arm’s race, it means that developing nations (or developing despots) have nothing keeping their own nuclear ambitions in check.
Are you personally rooting for Kim Jong Un to get his chubby, little hands on a nuclear missile capable of intercontinental flight? If so, you’re in luck, because getting rid of the INF Treaty would be a huge step toward achieving that goal. But, it’s cool, because the more guns people have, the safer everyone is, right?