Pivot to Foreign Policy: American-Russian Cooperation
President Obama's quick trip to
After an intense sales follow-up at home to his successful but highly controversial enactment of broad health-care insurance reform, the American president is plunging into an equally historic campaign to roll back the threat of nuclear war.
While the shift may be dismissed by domestic critics as a diversionary move from the continuing health-care argument, it puts Obama on another stage that can tap into his relatively undiminished stature in
Beyond characterizing the treaty signing as a tangible "resetting" of the American-Russian relationship, Obama corralled a bevy of other European leaders to the event. Their presence underscored the multilateral stake in nuclear nonproliferation of which he had spoken in
Obama optimistically claimed that he and Medvedev not only had "stopped the drift" in their two countries' previously disintegrating cooperation, but also through the treaty had established a milestone for nuclear security and nonproliferation beyond their borders. Provisions include sharp reductions "nearly in half" in their nuclear stockpiles and weapons delivery systems, as well as improved regimes for verifying compliance, beyond provisions of the expired 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
Still unresolved and of Russian concern are American considerations of a missile defense system in
The treaty agreement with
Along with the new treaty, the Obama administration has avowed that
All this is occurring just as the Obama administration is pursuing a new non-nuclear weapons program called Prompt Global Strike. It is to have a long-range conventional-weapons capability to target terrorist and other threats, providing a potent deterrent well short of nuclear devastation.
One challenge to development and deployment of such a non-nuclear intercontinental missile is to find ways that it could be verified as non-nuclear by the Russians or other non-targeted country, and thus prevent a nuclear response by such unintended target.
In any event, the world rather miraculously has avoided any use of a nuclear device since
The closest known peril to such use came 17 years later in the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the
Throughout the more than 40 years of Cold War between the U.S. and the
But even the end of the Cold War, while vastly lowering international tensions, did not eradicate the threat of nuclear holocaust, by intent or miscalculation. The rise of terrorism generated fear of rogue countries or groups acquiring and using a nuclear device, warranting the diplomatic quest for nonproliferation that has just taken a major step forward in
So as Obama struggles to cope with a restive public at home that appears to threaten his domestic agenda, like any other American president he cannot afford to ignore the heavy demands of foreign-policy leadership in the nuclear age.
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Pivot to Foreign Policy: American-Russian Cooperation | Jules Witcover - Politics Today
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