I really didn’t’ think, in the past months and even years that I would be saying this, but … President Donald Trump is doing the right thing, i.e. being a good leader, and he’s doing things right, too, being a good global, strategic manager.
I did comment when US President Donald Trump announced (October 2018) that the United States was withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), but I did not comment when the United States suspended the INF (in February 2019) nor, again when it formally withdrew in August of this year. In October of last year I said that “I actually sympathize with President Trump: the Russians never could be trusted, not when they were led by Gorbachev and not now, when Putin is in charge; the Chinese were never part if the INF treaty so they have built a potent, regional nuclear force while the American led West watched and said little and did nothing. So America, probably, possibly, should do something … I just wish we could trust America’s leadership.” My views remain unchanged. I think President Trump did the right thing. It’s not often that I can say that, but, at the same time, I suspect he did the right thing for a whole hockey sock full of the wrong reasons, but as Dr Thomas Wright, of the Brookings Institute, said, when he explained that President Trump’s strategy is, in fact, coherent, in an article upon which I commented in February 2019, “the advent of a more unified and predictable U.S. foreign policy is likely to weaken American influence and destabilize the international order.“
Now I see, in a report from CBS News, and there are many similar news reports, that “The U.S. has conducted the first test of a ground-launched cruise missile since its from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia earlier this month. On Sunday, the Pentagon flight tested the missile at San Nicolas Island, California.” (Photo from AFP.)
The South China Morning Post now says that “China warned that the US’ test of a medium-range cruise missile would start a new arms race and lead to confrontation, after a launch off the coast of California … [and a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, is reported to have said on Tuesday] … “This measure from the US will trigger a new round of arms race, leading to an escalation of military confrontation, which will have a serious negative impact on the international and regional security situation.” … [and] … Geng said that the United States should “let go of its cold war mentality” and “do more things that are conducive to … international and regional peace and tranquillity”.” That’s a pretty predictable reaction, I think. China has had, for the past several years, pretty much a “free ride” in building its military (offensive and defensive) capabilities without anything in the way of real “push-back” from the West, beyond ‘freedom of navigation’ cruises by (mostly but not exclusively American) warships in the South China Seas.
The SCMP article goes on to say that “Earlier this month, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper expressed a wish to station intermediate-range missiles in the Pacific region within months. His country’s national security adviser John Bolton has also suggested that the missiles could be deployed in Japan and South Korea … [and] … China has vowed to take unspecified countermeasures if the US deploys ground-based missiles in South Korea or Japan. Russia has also said it would respond if they were deployed.“
President Trump has said that he wants a new INF Treaty but this one must include China. That’s also doing the right thing. But a new INF Treaty could and should also include, at least, North Korea and Iran and, possibly, India and Pakistan, too.
But beyond suggesting that he is willing to negotiate a new, better INF Treaty, which is also the right thing to do, President Trump has tested a new intermediate-range cruise missile which must worry both the Russians and the Chinese. That’s doing things right.
My guess is that neither Russia nor China is willing to sign on to a new INF Treaty any time soon. Neither wants to decommission the missiles they have built, recently. Nor is North Korea likely to even consider reducing its nuclear missile arsenal. For Canada, that means that ballistic missile defence is even more urgent … and that means that getting rid of Justin Trudeau this October is equally urgent.