Biden’s plan to sign a five-year extension to New START, while unquestionably welcome, will have a limited effect on fostering better relations between the USA and Russia, and hence on bringing stability to the world.
This is because the Biden team is unwilling to understand that arms control treaties further strategic stability between the great powers only if they are an integral part of a network of agreements designed to improve relations between such powers.
The first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) and Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, both signed in 1972, were successful because, in undertaking to implement them, the USA and the USSR sought better relations, as well as cooperation in as many different areas as possible, including ending wars in Vietnam and the Middle East.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987, was also enormously successful in that it symbolized an era of USA-USSR partnership on a broad range of issues from political liberalization in Eastern Europe to ending the wars in Afghanistan, Central America, and Southern Africa.
A US foreign policy run by Antony J. Blinken and Jake Sullivan, the likely next secretary of state and national security adviser, will mean more global interventions and regime-change operations, Clinton and Obama style. Blinken played a prominent foreign policy role in both the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations, while Sullivan was part of the Obama one.
Contrariwise, when the great powers have no interest in improved relations, arms control agreements fade away into irrelevance. History is replete with such examples. The most notorious case was that of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935, which lasted until 1939.
More recently, there was the SALT II agreement, negotiated under presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter. As relations between the US and the USSR deteriorated during the 1970’s, support for the agreement waned, so much so that President Carter asked the Senate not to ratify it.
For some years, though, both powers agreed to adhere to the treaty’s limits, until, finally, President Reagan announced that the US would no longer do so.
During the years SALT II limits were in place, relations between the two superpowers were at their nadir, with serious confrontations taking place over such issues as the shooting-down of Korean airliner KAL007 and the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe.
Another example is the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), according to which Iran was supposed to give up nuclear enrichment in return for the lifting of sanctions.
The JCPOA was neither ratified by the US Senate nor envisaged as a step in a process of rapprochement between the USA and Iran.
As a consequence, within three years, the treaty was in abeyance, and relations between Washington and Tehran were as bad as they had been since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
Much the same appears to be happening today. The Biden team’s expressed desire for an extension to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is not accompanied by any desire for a détente with Russia.
The Washington Post, which first reported the Biden administration’s intention to seek an extension of the New START agreement, also announced that.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point WW III News 2021.