In 1982, in the midst of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan warned the nation of the dangers of “building a paper castle that will be blown away by the winds of war.” Fast forward to present day, and Reagan’s words eerily resonate with our nation’s current arms treaties with Russia.
This week The Heritage Foundation hosted an event entitled “Reported Russian Violations of the Intermediate-Range Treaty: Next Steps.” The distinguished panelists included Mark Schneider of the National Institute for Public Policy, Matthew Kroenig of Georgetown University, Ambassador Robert Joseph, and Keith Payne of the National Institute for Public Policy, with closing remarks given by Senator Marco Rubio (R–FL).
Over the course of the two-hour presentation, the panelists familiarized the audience with some of the technical aspects of the Russian violations to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the disregard of the Russian government toward present and past arms treaties with the United States, and the theoretical and practical concepts of international nonproliferation agreements.
As Reagan reminds us, “Simply collecting agreements will not bring peace.” The panelists, through their study of past arms treaties and personal experience, have reached the same conclusion. However, the U.S. government’s repeated negotiations with Russia suggest that they do not view noncompliance as a significant concern. The U.S. has unilaterally complied with the INF treaty providing the Russians with a 10–1 advantage in tactical nuclear weapons. Further INF violations have been documented by Schneider.
Despite these revelations, the Obama Administration continually seeks to engage Moscow in arms reduction treaties, most recently the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The Administration’s hope to “reset” the Russian–U.S. relationship has only further jeopardized American security. The Administration’s ballistic missile reductions are causing the U.S. to lag behind the advancing ballistic missile threat.
In his closing remarks, Senator Rubio reminded the audience of the nature of Vladimir Putin’s regime. In 2005, Putin stated that “the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” Recent Russian challenges to the U.S. are reminiscent of Cold War behavior. The U.S. would benefit from Reagan’s timeless wisdom regarding arms treaties with Russia. In order to ensure American security, the Administration must stop building its “paper castle” and rebuild its fortress on the rock of American sovereignty.
Rebecca Robison is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.