By Staff Writer Tom Griffin.
Reagan-era trust between the United States and Russia has been nullified over some Trump-era good old-fashioned misunderstanding.
For as much publicity as it garnered over its eight-year span, the Reagan administration was particularly quiet in its establishment of new policies.
Sure, we all remember trickle down economics, the war on drugs, and tearing down some evil wall, but not many of us recall the major steps that Reagan took to keep America safe in an uncertain era.
Toward the late eighties, the United States’ relationship with the Soviet Union was a troubling one, with the looming threats of nuclear fallout, mutually-assured destruction, and a nuclear-powered arms race included with the Cold War.
Both sprawling powers had missiles, ranging anywhere from 500km to 5,500km in distance, scattered anywhere between western Asia and western Europe. Both sides refused to disclose the location of their nuclear missiles, and neither side showed any likelihood of backing down from this growing conflict.
What was apparent between the two nations throughout the Cold War was a lack of open communication or honesty. Now, it’s a no-brainer that two countries at war will expose as little of themselves as possible to the opposing force, but America was never really at war with the Soviets, per se. War is, by its very nature, a rift or alternative for where political commentary and discourse has failed. What separated Reagan from the rest of the talking heads in nuclear political discussion was that he wasn’t willing to let the political discourse fail.
In 1987, following decades of uncompromising silence between the two nations, Reagan proposed the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty.
The treaty, officially signed and sanctioned by both the United States and the Soviet Union, made illegal the production and upkeep of the ground-based nuclear missiles that were causing much of the concerns of nuclear destruction and general Armageddon.
This treaty was the closest victory America had gotten to smoothing relations over with Russia and eastern Europe.
Following the Cold War, relations between the United States and Russia were very positive and productive. The two nations’ space programs, once used against each other for military spying and reconnaissance, joined forces on the newly built International Space Station to further scientific study of outer space instead.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader put into power in the later years of the Russian Federation’s political exchange with America, has been open about how highly he values his international relationship with the United States.
And then, coming to power in late 2016, there’s current American president Donald Trump.
Trump’s presidency can easily be described as hard-nosed−not accepting no for an answer. America comes first in every international exchange, and his relations to Putin and Russia are no exception. And he’s not willing to accept no for an answer until it meets his goals for the U.S.
In early 2019, the Trump administration reportedly found evidence that the Russian Federation had violated their end of the agreement proposed in the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty. As a result, the United States formally terminated their ratification of the treaty, proceeding to redevelop and redeploy their nuclear technology.
Russia, with no formal agreement to tie themselves down, did the same. The treaty that Reagan had pushed to pass and end conflict over thirty years ago −the treaty that near single-handedly ended a half-century of panic and potential international turmoil−was now made worthless due to accusations of discordance in an otherwise peaceful and bloodless era.
As recently as last week, American fear rose after Russia aired news about developments in missile construction. This alone isn’t problematic, but what does break moral rules is the way they showed it to the public −they made maps (shown below) showing places in America the missile could reach and destroy, including the Pentagon.
What is likely to follow is an arms race that, given the advancements in technology over the past thirty years, will dwarf that of the previous Cold War.
These developments, along with uncertain relations to another nuclear power in North Korea, could spell disaster if not properly managed by the figureheads of world power.
Nuclear war is a possibility again, and its consequences don’t benefit anyone involved.