Changes in Latin America

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Peace, Politics on February 22, 2019 at 3:57 am

By Dave Anderson – February 21, 2019

While Venezuela’s alarming humanitarian and political crisis has
rightly grabbed our attention, another disturbing event in Latin
America has been forgotten. That event was the New Year’s Day
inauguration in Brazil of former Army captain Jair Bolsonaro as
president. His ascension marked the most drastic political change in
the country since military rule ended more than three decades ago.
Bolsonaro is a fervent supporter of the “glorious” military
dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. It was “20 years of
order and progress,” he said.

He is enthusiastic about torture and has threatened to murder and
imprison his opponents. He is known for bigoted comments about the
poor, minorities, the LGBT community and assertive women. He told a
female legislator that she was too ugly to rape. He also said he would
rather find out that his son had died in a car crash than learn that
his son is gay.

Bolsonaro told his inaugural crowd, “I come before the nation today, a
day in which the people have rid themselves of socialism, the
inversion of values, statism and political correctness.” He said
Brazil is like “a patient whose … whole body needs amputating.” He
could reverse a generation of progress instituted by the Workers’

Bolsonaro wants to open up protected indigenous territories in the
Amazon rainforest to mining, cattle ranching and farming.
Environmentalists warn that this will speed up global climate change.
But his foreign minister Ernesto Araujo has said climate change is a
“cultural Marxist” hoax created by the Chinese.

The global financial community was giddy about Bolsonaro’s election.
In an investor call, Timothy Hassinger, chief executive officer of
Lindsay Corp., the Nebraska-based farming equipment manufacturer,
referred to Bolsonaro as “strongly pro-ag,” calling his election a
“bullish opportunity for us.”

Bolsonaro’s chief economic adviser, Paulo Guedes, is a right-wing
banker, who has promised to deregulate the economy, cut the public
pension system, revise the tax code to favor business and privatize
state-owned firms. This is the cruel neo-liberal playbook used by
University of Chicago-trained economists of the Chilean dictatorship
of Augusto Pinochet. It caused a great deal of suffering for the
majority of Chileans but it was successfully carried out because
political opposition and the labor movement were crushed. Guedes is a
“Chicago boy” alumnus who taught economics in Chile during the
Pinochet era.

Bolsonaro was the keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos
in January. At this shindig for the planet’s economic elite, Reuters
reported that the Brazilian president “threw out the welcome mat for
big business and foreign investors.” He got a warm reception.

This is a big change. It was only a few years ago that progressive
governments were in power throughout Latin America. Beginning in the
1990s, there was a “Pink Tide” of self-proclaimed socialist and
democratically elected governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil,
Chile, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela and
Peru. They weren’t communist (or red) but a more moderate version of
the left (therefore pink).

Last October, the democratic socialist magazine Dissent hosted a
conference entitled “The Future of the Left in the Americas.”
Historian Patrick Iber writes that the “Pink Tide” governments were
quite diverse. He says, “One point of debate at the conference was how
to define the left, given that some governments that describe
themselves as on the left engage in authoritarian practices, are
overseeing large increases in poverty rates, or have incorporated
criminal enterprises into the state.”

Iber notes, “To many international observers, there seemed to be a
more radical, self-described ‘Bolivarian’ wing represented by
Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and possibly Argentina, with a
more social democratic left in Brazil, Uruguay and Chile.” He says
that division is somewhat simplistic and that it can be confusing to
categorize one of the groups as more left-wing.

“…(W)hat mattered more,” he stresses, “was that in most of the
Bolivarian countries the old party systems had collapsed, leading to
the quick creation of new hegemonic parties that used charismatic
leadership to hold coalitions together. This more confrontational
style polarized electorates. It put a primacy on loyalty, and often on
lashing out at enemies, many real and some imagined. The social
democratic countries operated within more conventional limits of
democratic politics, with all of the inevitable roadblocks and
disappointments that come with sharing power.”

All of the left-wing governments benefited from one of the biggest
commodities booms in modern times. Latin America exports primary
products and imports finished products. Iber says, “In the early
2000s, rapid growth in India and China drove up the price of primary
products, from oil to lithium to soybeans. This gave governments the
ability to spend money on social welfare and development, satisfying —
at least in part — the needs of their political bases without making
fundamental structural changes to their economies or their position in
the global system of trade.”

In 2012, the commodities boom ended, mostly due to a slowdown in the
Chinese economy. The governments had to cut social spending and had a
hard time staying in power. There was a right-wing backlash by the
economic elite. Now with the rise of far-rightists such as Bolsonaro
and Trump, Latin America faces the possi


War With China? It’s Already Under Way

In Climate change, Environment, Peace, Politics, War on February 19, 2019 at 8:40 am

In his highly acclaimed 2017 book, Destined for War, Harvard professor Graham Allison assessed the likelihood that the United States and China would one day find themselves at war. Comparing the U.S.-Chinese relationship to great-power rivalries all the way back to the Peloponnesian War of the fifth century BC, he concluded that the future risk of a conflagration was substantial. Like much current analysis of U.S.-Chinese relations, however, he missed a crucial point: for all intents and purposes, the United States and China are already at war with one another. Even if their present slow-burn conflict may not produce the immediate devastation of a conventional hot war, its long-term consequences could prove no less dire.

To suggest this means reassessing our understanding of what constitutes war. From Allison’s perspective (and that of so many others in Washington and elsewhere), “peace” and “war” stand as polar opposites. One day, our soldiers are in their garrisons being trained and cleaning their weapons; the next, they are called into action and sent onto a battlefield. War, in this model, begins when the first shots are fired.

Well, think again in this new era of growing great-power struggle and competition. Today, war means so much more than military combat and can take place even as the leaders of the warring powers meet to negotiate and share dry-aged steak and whipped potatoes (as Donald Trump and Xi Jinping did at Mar-a-Lago in 2017). That is exactly where we are when it comes to Sino-American relations. Consider it war by another name, or perhaps, to bring back a long-retired term, a burning new version of a cold war.

Even before Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, the U.S. military and other branches of government were already gearing up for a long-term quasi-war, involving both growing economic and diplomatic pressure on China and a buildup of military forces along that country’s periphery. Since his arrival, such initiatives have escalated into Cold War-style combat by another name, with his administration committed to defeating China in a struggle for global economic, technological, and military supremacy.

This includes the president’s much-publicized “trade war” with China, aimed at hobbling that country’s future growth; a techno-war designed to prevent it from overtaking the U.S. in key breakthrough areas of technology; a diplomatic war intended to isolate Beijing and frustrate its grandiose plans for global outreach; a cyber war (largely hidden from public scrutiny); and a range of military measures as well. This may not be war in the traditional sense of the term, but for leaders on both sides, it has the feel of one.

Why China?

The media and many politicians continue to focus on U.S.-Russian relations, in large part because of revelations of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 American presidential election and the ongoing Mueller investigation. Behind the scenes, however, most senior military and foreign policy officials in Washington view China, not Russia, as the country’s principal adversary. In eastern Ukraine, the Balkans, Syria, cyberspace, and in the area of nuclear weaponry, Russia does indeed pose a variety of threats to Washington’s goals and desires. Still, as an economically hobbled petro-state, it lacks the kind of might that would allow it to truly challenge this country’s status as the world’s dominant power. China is another story altogether. With its vast economy, growing technological prowess, intercontinental “Belt and Road” infrastructure project, and rapidly modernizing military, an emboldened China could someday match or even exceed U.S. power on a global scale, an outcome American elites are determined to prevent at any cost.

Washington’s fears of a rising China were on full display in January with the release of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, a synthesis of the views of the Central Intelligence Agency and other members of that “community.” Its conclusion: “We assess that China’s leaders will try to extend the country’s global economic, political, and military reach while using China’s military capabilities and overseas infrastructure and energy investments under the Belt and Road Initiative to diminish U.S. influence.”

To counter such efforts, every branch of government is now expected to mobilize its capabilities to bolster American — and diminish Chinese — power. In Pentagon documents, this stance is summed up by the term “overmatch,” which translates as the eternal preservation of American global superiority vis-à-vis China (and all other potential rivals). “The United States must retain overmatch,” the administration’s National Security Strategy insists, and preserve a “combination of capabilities in sufficient scale to prevent enemy success,” while continuing to “shape the international environment to protect our interests.”

In other words, there can never be parity between the two countries. The only acceptable status for China is as a distinctly lesser power. To ensure such an outcome, administration officials insist, the U.S. must take action on a daily basis to contain or impede its rise.

In previous epochs, as Allison makes clear in his book, this equation — a prevailing power seeking to retain its dominant status and a rising power seeking to overcome its subordinate one — has almost always resulted in conventional conflict. In today’s world, however, where great-power armed combat could possibly end in a nuclear exchange and mutual annihilation, direct military conflict is a distinctly unappealing option for all parties. Instead, governing elites have developed other means of warfare — economic, technological, and covert — to achieve such strategic objectives. Viewed this way, the United States is already in close to full combat mode with respect to China.

Trade War

When it comes to the economy, the language betrays the reality all too clearly. The Trump administration’s economic struggle with China is regularly described, openly and without qualification, as a “war.” And there’s no doubt that senior White House officials, beginning with the president and his chief trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, see it just that way: as a means of pulverizing the Chinese economy and so curtailing that country’s ability to compete with the United States in all other measures of power.

Ostensibly, the aim of President Trump’s May 2018 decision to impose $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports (increased in September to $200 billion) was to rectify a trade imbalance between the two countries, while protecting the American economy against what is described as China’s malign behavior. Its trade practices “plainly constitute a grave threat to the long-term health and prosperity of the United States economy,” as the president put it when announcing the second round of tariffs.

An examination of the demands submitted to Chinese negotiators by the U.S. trade delegation last May suggests, however, that Washington’s primary intent hasn’t been to rectify that trade imbalance but to impede China’s economic growth. Among the stipulations Beijing must acquiesce to before receiving tariff relief, according to leaked documents from U.S. negotiators that were spread on Chinese social media:

  • halting all government subsidies to advanced manufacturing industries in its Made in China 2025 program, an endeavor that covers 10 key economic sectors, including aircraft manufacturing, electric cars, robotics, computer microchips, and artificial intelligence;
  • accepting American restrictions on investments in sensitive technologies without retaliating;
  • opening up its service and agricultural sectors — areas where Chinese firms have an inherent advantage — to full American competition.

In fact, this should be considered a straightforward declaration of economic war. Acquiescing to such demands would mean accepting a permanent subordinate status vis-à-vis the United States in hopes of continuing a profitable trade relationship with this country. “The list reads like the terms for a surrender rather than a basis for negotiation,” was the way Eswar Prasad, an economics professor at Cornell University, accurately described these developments.

Technological Warfare

As suggested by America’s trade demands, Washington’s intent is not only to hobble China’s economy today and tomorrow but for decades to come. This has led to an intense, far-ranging campaign to deprive it of access to advanced technologies and to cripple its leading technology firms.

Chinese leaders have long realized that, for their country to achieve economic and military parity with the United States, they must master the cutting-edge technologies that will dominate the twenty-first-century global economy, including artificial intelligence (AI), fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications, electric vehicles, and nanotechnology. Not surprisingly then, the government has invested in a major way in science and technology education, subsidized research in pathbreaking fields, and helped launch promising startups, among other such endeavors — all in the very fashion that the Internet and other American computer and aerospace innovations were originally financed and encouraged by the Department of Defense.

Chinese companies have also demanded technology transfers when investing in or forging industrial partnerships with foreign firms, a common practice in international development. India, to cite a recent example of this phenomenon, expects that significant technology transfers from American firms will be one outcome of its agreed-upon purchases of advanced American weaponry.

In addition, Chinese firms have been accused of stealing American technology through cybertheft, provoking widespread outrage in this country. Realistically speaking, it’s difficult for outside observers to determine to what degree China’s recent technological advances are the product of commonplace and legitimate investments in science and technology and to what degree they’re due to cyberespionage. Given Beijing’s massive investment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education at the graduate and post-graduate level, however, it’s safe to assume that most of that country’s advances are the result of domestic efforts.

Certainly, given what’s publicly known about Chinese cybertheft activities, it’s reasonable for American officials to apply pressure on Beijing to curb the practice. However, the Trump administration’s drive to blunt that country’s technological progress is also aimed at perfectly legitimate activities. For example, the White House seeks to ban Beijing’s government subsidies for progress on artificial intelligence at the same time that the Department of Defense is pouring billions of dollars into AI research at home. The administration is also acting to block the Chinese acquisition of U.S. technology firms and of exports of advanced components and know-how.

In an example of this technology war that’s made the headlines lately, Washington has been actively seeking to sabotage the efforts of Huawei, one of China’s most prominent telecom firms, to gain leadership in the global deployment of 5G wireless communications. Such wireless systems are important in part because they will transmit colossal amounts of electronic data at far faster rates than now conceivable, facilitating the introduction of self-driving cars, widespread roboticization, and the universal application of AI.

Second only to Apple as the world’s supplier of smartphones and a major producer of telecommunications equipment, Huawei has sought to take the lead in the race for 5G adaptation around the world. Fearing that this might give China an enormous advantage in the coming decades, the Trump administration has tried to prevent that. In what is widely described as a “tech Cold War,” it has put enormous pressure on both its Asian and European allies to bar the company from conducting business in their countries, even as it sought the arrest in Canada of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, and her extradition to the U.S. on charges of tricking American banks into aiding Iranian firms (in violation of Washington’s sanctions on that country). Other attacks on Huawei are in the works, including a potential ban on the sales of its products in this country. Such moves are regularly described as focused on boosting the security of both the United States and its allies by preventing the Chinese government from using Huawei’s telecom networks to steal military secrets. The real reason — barely disguised — is simply to block China from gaining technological parity with the United States.


There would be much to write on this subject, if only it weren’t still hidden in the shadows of the growing conflict between the two countries. Not surprisingly, however, little information is available on U.S.-Chinese cyberwarfare. All that can be said with confidence is that an intense war is now being waged between the two countries in cyberspace. American officials accuse China of engaging in a broad-based cyber-assault on this country, involving both outright cyberespionage to obtain military as well as corporate secrets and widespread political meddling. “What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing,” said Vice President Mike Pence last October in a speech at the Hudson Institute, though — typically on the subject — he provided not a shred of evidence for his claim.

Not disclosed is what this country is doing to combat China in cyberspace. All that can be known from available information is that this is a two-sided war in which the U.S. is conducting its own assaults. “­The United States will impose swift and costly consequences on foreign governments, criminals, and other actors who undertake significant malicious cyber activities,” the 2017 National Security Strategy affirmed. What form these “consequences” have taken has yet to be revealed, but there’s little doubt that America’s cyber warriors have been active in this domain.

Diplomatic and Military Coercion

Completing the picture of America’s ongoing war with China are the fierce pressures being exerted on the diplomatic and military fronts to frustrate Beijing’s geopolitical ambitions. To advance those aspirations, China’s leadership is relying heavily on a much-touted Belt and Road Initiative, a trillion-dollar plan to help fund and encourage the construction of a vast new network of road, rail, port, and pipeline infrastructure across Eurasia and into the Middle East and Africa. By financing — and, in many cases, actually building — such infrastructure, Beijing hopes to bind the economies of a host of far-flung nations ever closer to its own, while increasing its political influence across the Eurasian mainland and Africa. As Beijing’s leadership sees it, at least in terms of orienting the planet’s future economics, its role would be similar to that of the Marshall Plan that cemented U.S. influence in Europe after World War II.

And given exactly that possibility, Washington has begun to actively seek to undermine the Belt and Road wherever it can — discouraging allies from participating, while stirring up unease in countries like Malaysia and Uganda over the enormous debts to China they may end up with and the heavy-handed manner in which that country’s firms often carry out such overseas construction projects. (For example, they typically bring in Chinese laborers to do most of the work, rather than hiring and training locals.)

“China uses bribes, opaque agreements, and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s wishes and demands,” National Security Advisor John Bolton claimed in a December speech on U.S. policy on that continent. “Its investment ventures are riddled with corruption,” he added, “and do not meet the same environmental or ethical standards as U.S. developmental programs.” Bolton promised that the Trump administration would provide a superior alternative for African nations seeking development funds, but — and this is something of a pattern as well — no such assistance has yet materialized.

In addition to diplomatic pushback, the administration has undertaken a series of initiatives intended to isolate China militarily and limit its strategic options. In South Asia, for example, Washington has abandoned its past position of maintaining rough parity in its relations with India and Pakistan. In recent years, it’s swung sharply towards a strategic alliance with New Dehli, attempting to enlist it fully in America’s efforts to contain China and, presumably, in the process punishing Pakistan for its increasingly enthusiastic role in the Belt and Road Initiative.

In the Western Pacific, the U.S. has stepped up its naval patrols and forged new basing arrangements with local powers — all with the aim of confining the Chinese military to areas close to the mainland. In response, Beijing has sought to escape the grip of American power by establishing miniature bases on Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea (or even constructing artificial islands to house bases there) — moves widely condemned by the hawks in Washington.

To demonstrate its ire at the effrontery of Beijing in the Pacific (once known as an “American lake”), the White House has ordered an increased pace of so-called freedom-of-navigation operations (FRONOPs). Navy warships regularly sail within shooting range of those very island bases, suggesting a U.S. willingness to employ military force to resist future Chinese moves in the region (and also creating situations in which a misstep could lead to a military incident that could lead… well, anywhere).

In Washington, the warnings about Chinese military encroachment in the region are already reaching a fever pitch. For instance, Admiral Philip Davidson, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, described the situation there in recent congressional testimony this way: “In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

A Long War of Attrition

As Admiral Davidson suggests, one possible outcome of the ongoing cold war with China could be armed conflict of the traditional sort. Such an encounter, in turn, could escalate to the nuclear level, resulting in mutual annihilation. A war involving only “conventional” forces would itself undoubtedly be devastating and lead to widespread suffering, not to mention the collapse of the global economy.

Even if a shooting war doesn’t erupt, however, a long-term geopolitical war of attrition between the U.S. and China will, in the end, have debilitating and possibly catastrophic consequences for both sides. Take the trade war, for example. If that’s not resolved soon in a positive manner, continuing high U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports will severely curb Chinese economic growth and so weaken the world economy as a whole, punishing every nation on Earth, including this one. High tariffs will also increase costs for American consumers and endanger the prosperity and survival of many firms that rely on Chinese raw materials and components.

This new brand of war will also ensure that already sky-high defense expenditures will continue to rise, diverting funds from vital needs like education, health, infrastructure, and the environment.  Meanwhile, preparations for a future war with China have already become the number one priority at the Pentagon, crowding out all other considerations. “While we’re focused on ongoing operations,” acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan reportedly told his senior staff on his first day in office this January, “remember China, China, China.”

Perhaps the greatest victim of this ongoing conflict will be planet Earth itself and all the creatures, humans included, who inhabit it. As the world’s top two emitters of climate-altering greenhouse gases, the U.S. and China must work together to halt global warming or all of us are doomed to a hellish future. With a war under way, even a non-shooting one, the chance for such collaboration is essentially zero. The only way to save civilization is for the U.S. and China to declare peace and focus together on human salvation.

Michael T. Klare, a TomDispatch regular, is the five-college professor emeritus of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and a senior visiting fellow at the Arms Control Association. His most recent book is The Race for What’s Left. His next book, All Hell Breaking Loose: Climate Change, Global Chaos, and American National Security, will be published in 2019.

Mikhail Gorbachev: A Nuclear Arms Race Will Produce No Winners (Op-ed)

In Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on February 16, 2019 at 12:23 am

Despite everything, it is still in our power to avoid nuclear confrontation.

Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev

Kirill Zykov / Moskva News Agency, February 14, 2018

The fate of the INF treaty has politicians and ordinary people worried on every continent. I am also concerned, and not only because I signed that treaty with former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in Dec. 1987. These events are yet another manifestation of the dangerous and destructive trends in world politics facing us today.

The main idea guiding us on the path to signing the original treaty was expressed in a joint statement with the United States, adopted at our first meeting in Geneva: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

That INF Treaty was the first step, and it was followed by others — the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) and mutual steps towards eliminating a significant part of all tactical nuclear weapons. The two states revised their military doctrines to reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons, slashing their number by more than 80 percent from their highpoint during the Cold War.

The process started at that time had an affect beyond nuclear weapons alone. The Chemical Weapons Convention was signed in 1997 and the countries of Eastern and Western Europe agreed on a drastic reduction of their armed forces and weapons. This was the “peace dividend” from which everyone benefited — Europeans most of all — as a result of the end of the Cold War.

Ever since, the INF Treaty has served the security of our country, excluding the possibility of weapons capable of a “decapitation strike” being deploying near our borders.

I have to mention here that senior Russian officials sometimes criticized the treaty unfairly, lamenting the destruction of the missiles and claiming that they would still be useful to us. I always felt compelled to respond to such statements.

President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty in the East Room of the White House

President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty in the East Room of the White House


In recent years, however, Russia has taken an unequivocal position in favor of preserving the INF Treaty. I hope this position reflects a deeper understanding of it’s importance.

A great danger, however, now looms over all that we have achieved in the years since the end of the Cold War. The decision of the United States to withdraw from the INF Treaty threatens to reverse the progress made.

And this is not the first such step. The U.S. refused to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the country’s unilateral decision in 2002 ended the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT).

Of the three pillars of global strategic stability — the ABMT, INFT, and START I — only one remains, the New START signed by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2010, and its fate is unclear. Judging by statements that representatives of the U.S. administration have made, that, too, could “become a thing of the past.”

What has happened? What threat is compelling the United States to dismantle a system for limiting nuclear arms that has served the world for decades?

According to the text in the INF Treaty, “Each party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty, have the right to withdraw from this Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests. It shall give notice of its decision to withdraw to the other Party six months prior to withdrawal from this Treaty. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events the notifying Party regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.”

That is, a country taking the step of leaving the treaty should explain to the world community what has compelled it walk away from it.

Where is this threat to the “supreme interests” of the security of the U.S. — a country whose military spending is at least three times greater than that of all of its potential rivals? Has the U.S. communicated that threat to the world community, the public, and the UN Security Council? No, it has not.

A Forced Decision: Why the U.S. Withdrew From the INF Treaty (Op-ed)

Instead, it has leveled complaints against Russia for alleged violations that even experienced specialists have difficulty understanding. And it has presented those claims in the form of an ultimatum.

The U.S. justifies its position by pointing to the fact that other countries — particularly China, Iran, and North Korea — possess medium-range missiles. This is not a convincing argument, however. The arsenals of the U.S. and Russia still account for more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. In this sense, the two countries really are still “superpowers.”

It is possible to suggest that Washington’s decision to withdraw from the treaty is based not on the reasons cited by U.S. leaders, but on something very different: Washington’s desire to free itself from any limitations on its weapons and to achieve absolute military superiority.

“We have more money than anybody else by far,” President Trump recently proclaimed, “we’ll build it [the nuclear arsenal] up until they come to their senses.”

Presumably, the U.S. wants to re-arm in order to dictate its will to the world. What else could it be?

But this is an illusory goal, a vain hope. It is impossible for one country to achieve hegemony in the modern world. This destructive turn of events will lead to a very different result: The destabilization of the global strategic situation, a new arms race, and greater chaos and unpredictability in world politics.

The security of all countries, including the United States, will suffer. This is the nature of the uncontrollable process that this decision will set in motion.

The INF Treaty Has Been Nixed. What’s Next? (Op-ed)

Trump said that the U.S. hopes to conclude “a new treaty that would be much better.”

What sort of treaty does he mean — one catered for building up nuclear weapons perhaps? Nobody should be fooled by such a promise. The same is true of the statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said that “the U.S. has no plans for the immediate deployment of new missile weapons.”

It only means that the U.S. does not have such missiles yet. And these statements clearly failed to convince the Europeans, who were understandably alarmed. Everyone remembers the “missile crisis” of the early 1980s, when hundreds of Soviet SS-20 and U.S. Pershing missiles were deployed on this continent. And everyone understands that a new round of the missile race could be even more dangerous.

I welcome efforts by European countries to save the INF Treaty. The European Union urged the U.S. to “consider the consequences of its possible withdrawal from the INF on its own security, on the security of its allies and of the whole world.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who warned that “ending the treaty would have many negative consequences,” travelled to Moscow and Washington in an effort to find a solution to the problem. It is unfortunate that this attempt did not produce any results, but such efforts must continue — too much is at stake.

Those who would like to put the treaty to rest claim that the world has undergone major changes since it was concluded and that the agreement has simply become outdated as a result. The first half of that argument is certainly true, but the second is deeply mistaken. The subsequent changes in the world require not that we abandon the treaty — that laid the foundations of international security after the end of the Cold War — but that we take further steps towards the ultimate goal: The elimination of nuclear weapons.

This is where we should focus our efforts.

INF Is Just Another Unenforceable Treaty (Op-ed)

I would like to address all Americans, and particularly the Republican and Democratic members of Congress. It is unfortunate that the divisive domestic political situation in the U.S. in recent years has led to the breakdown of the entire U.S.-Russian dialogue, including on nuclear weapons. It is time to overcome inter-party disagreements and begin serious talks. I am confident that Russia is open for them.

With those relations at a standstill, we need new ideas capable of getting them moving again. The expert community can play a major role in this effort. In an article recently published by Rossiiskaya Gazeta and the Washington Post, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and I called for the creation of a nongovernmental forum of Russian and U.S. experts to discuss the changes that have occurred in security-related issues over the past decades and to develop proposals for our respective governments.

Most important now is for politicians to make a serious change in their thinking. Militarized mindsets have led to military campaigns in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and other countries. Their effects will be felt for a long time to come.

Politics, not weapons is the key to solving security problems. Although the disturbing events of recent weeks leave no room for complacency, we should not panic yet. We need to understand the situation as it develops and, most importantly, take action to prevent the world from sliding into an arms race, confrontation, and ultimately hostility. Despite everything, I believe it is still in our power.

Mikhail Gorbachev was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Union in 1985-1991 and President of the Soviet Union in 1990-1991. A Russian-language version of this article first appeared in Vedomosti. The views and opinions expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.