Trump’s Punk Rock Nuclear Policy

October 24, 2018
Jeffrey Lewis

The following is an excerpt from Foreign Policy.

Why did President Donald Trump announce that the United States would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty? If you are asking this question, you are already wrong.

You would be wrong because you are looking for a strategic rationale or a policy explanation. And to be sure, some experts will offer those rationales. Russia is violating the INF Treaty. (Probably true.) China is not a party to the agreement and has a bunch of missiles, including nuclear-armed ones, with ranges that would be prohibited if it were. (Definitely true.) Other countries have missiles that would be prohibited were they members, including India, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia (thanks China!), and South Korea. (True, with that list likely to grow.) But this will be a post hoc effort, as analysts seek to explain the campaign stylings of Trump, hoping for a job or maybe just trying to make the best of a bad situation.

While each of these is a reason, not a single one of them is the reason that Trump said on Saturday, “We’re going to terminate the agreement, and we’re going to pull out.” After all, in 2011, John Bolton, now Trump’s national security advisor, called for withdrawing from the INF Treaty because the pact didn’t address “today’s strategic threats,” most notably Iran. Of course, that wasn’t the reason either.

Continue reading at Foreign Policy.

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