The demise of the INF Treaty

The United States has just pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (Reuters), a 1987 agreement that restricted short-range and medium-range land-based missiles, and Russia has responded by doing the same (NYT).  Both countries accuse each other of violating the treaty (NYT, RT).  Nato seems to be supporting the United States’ decision (Sputnik International).  Escalating matters, Russia has announced that it plans to develop new weapons previously banned under the treaty in response both to the U.S. pull out from the treaty and to previous U.S. weapons development that Russia claims violated the treaty (TASS).

It’s difficult for me to tell, just yet, what is going on here.  Considering the stakes involved, news coverage has been (in my opinion) rather scanty.  What precipitated this pull-out?  Is this a Trump thing?  If so, where was all the usual bellicose blather and self-indulgent fanfare that precedes all Trump initiatives?  Is this a move initiated by Pompeo?  By Bolton?  Who’s pulling this string and why?  Is this a move to bring a militarily unfettered China to the table?  Is the U.S. pulling out of the treaty because the treaty puts the country at a military disadvantage against China (Daily Mail)?  Possibly.  China certainly sees no good in all of this for itself (The Times of India).  The move seems senseless and venal enough to be a Trump move, but, again, without the signature posing and crowing, it could surely have nothing to do with him.  So, what gives?

This situation is both bizarre and boring.  It’s a tedious thing to try to learn about.  It seems to be in the news all of a sudden, with little warning or context, and has received relatively little attention.  The media message seems to be that there is very little to see here, folks.  It feels like being lulled to sleep just before the end of the world.




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