President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked nuclear arms control in a phone call Friday. But what can be achieved when the US shreds treaties and Washington stays hostile to any communication with Russia?
Discussing disarmament is a step in the right direction, but the US recently pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, an arms-reduction pact signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. The pullout stoked fear of a nuclear buildup in Europe, unseen since the Cold War, and is one of several international arms treaties shredded by the Trump administration.
Gorbachev himself penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal late last month, lamenting the return of nuclear deterrence between the two great powers, and calling for increased communication between Moscow and Washington.
“Gorbachev is exactly right,” journalist Chris Hedges told RT’s Rick Sanchez. “This inability on behalf of the world’s two largest nuclear powers to speak and negotiate rationally is very, very dangerous.”
“There are various flashpoints, Syria being one, where this conflict could go wrong really quickly, so you want communication, you want discussion,” Hedges continued.
However, detente, which was negotiated so successfully by the Republican administrations of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, seems an alien concept when Trump’s cabinet is staffed by war hawks like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and security adviser John Bolton.
Even post-Mueller, the current climate of hostility to Russia in American discourse only hinders disarmament efforts further.
“Now the very word detente, as soon as Trump utters it the national security state goes berserk,” Hedges said.
“Nobody has to love Vladimir Putin or love Russia or anything else,” he told Sanchez, “but what’s kept the world from committing acts of massive self annihilation has been forms of communication, which figures like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton have no interest in doing. I think they’re probably incapable of speaking to anyone but themselves.”
Trump said on Friday that himself and Putin discussed entering into a new nuclear arms treaty, this time a “three-way deal”with China. However, with an arms industry “making billions of dollars” refitting former Eastern Bloc countries with NATO gear, with a cabinet of war hawks, and with a Democratic party choosing to blame Russia instead of tackling the social issues that gave rise to Trump, Hedges concluded that a new age of detente is a long way off.