Nuclear Treaties Are Good

 

The 1950s and the 1980s were decades of nuclear fear. The arms race of the 1950s culminated in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, after which institutions and procedures were put in place to cut back some of the causes of that fear. The Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty put nuclear tests underground, which made them more difficult and expensive and began to slow down the arms race. Better communications between American and Soviet leaders were developed. Treaties to limit the numbers of nuclear weapons followed.

By 1986, President Ronald Reagan and First Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev agreed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. To that end, they put in place the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987 to remove a whole class of weapon that accounted for much of the fear in the 1980s. And then the Soviet Union crashed, and we believed that such concerns had ended.

One more part of the current Republican agenda to turn back the clock is an attempt to bring back the circumstances of the 1950s and 1980s. Since the mid-1990s, the Republican Party has opposed all treaties on the basis that a treaty gives up some United States sovereignty. That is true; ratification of a treaty means that the treaty, negotiated with other nations, becomes part of US laws. Like other laws, a treaty is a tradeoff. The INF Treaty, for example, trades our freedom to build and emplace intermediate-range missiles for Russia’s promise not to do the same.

That seems like a good deal. The frightening thing about the intermediate-range missiles in Europe in the 1980s was that if they were used, there would be no warning time. So the rational thing for either side to do would be to shoot them all off at once at the slightest warning. Instant nuclear war. The little piece of sovereignty that the United States gave up with the INF Treaty was setting up an instant nuclear war.

The INF Treaty remains in force, but the United States has claimed for a couple of years that Russia is violating it by developing a missile that is prohibited under the treaty. The United States has not been forthcoming about exactly which aspect of which missile violates the treaty. Wonks have been trying to figure it out. Here is a long and very technical summary of those attempts. The bottom line is that the violation seems not to be much of a military threat, but the issues need to be ironed out.

Now comes to the argument Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the man who got his fellow senators together on a letter to the Iranian leadership in an attempt to scuttle the negotiations to hold Iran’s nuclear program in check. Senator Cotton has introduced legislation to withdraw the United States from the INF Treaty and to develop and spread more intermediate-range missiles. As a complement to that measure, Republican Senator Mike Rogers of Alabama would fund that proliferation with money taken from nonproliferation programs. Makes sense, I guess, if you think that putting the United States in the position of being the party responsible for wrecking the treaty in response to a Russian violation is a good thing.

Since the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union, then Russia, put into place a network of treaties to limit nuclear weapons and their use. Those treaties have decreased the real danger and the fear in response to those dangers. Republicans in the Senate have voted for those treaties when presented by Republican presidents and sometimes by Democratic presidents. But resistance to treaties has grown in recent years.

The Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty came into force in 1972. President George W. Bush withdrew from the treaty in 2001. That action was a culmination of a fantasy that was sold to Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. That fantasy kept Reagan from agreeing with Gorbachev at Reykjavik in 1986 to eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2000. The fantasy lives on today in the form of missile defense, another test of which recently failed. That’s after 30 years of very expensive research.

The Soviets considered, and Vladimir Putin still considers, the ABM Treaty essential to international stability. The justification was that countering ballistic missiles would put one side in a position for a first strike at the other. More recently, Russia is concerned that ABM emplacements around its periphery could be used in a first strike against it. That makes Russia touchier about other issues and more likely to take aggressive actions of its own, including the development of the INF-violating missile. If the United States withdrew from the INF Treaty, Russia would see that as one more move toward an arms race and worse.

That makes Cotton’s idea dumb, of course, but that sort of thing doesn’t stop him or his Republican colleagues.

There’s something else about this story. If you looked at the link about the details of Russia’s INF violation, you can see that there’s a lot to keep track of: observations of Russian tests and statements, consideration of the words of the treaty, and figuring out what to do about it. A group of people in the State Department have been working on this for a few years now, in consultation with the Defense Department and the intelligence organizations. They are part of the reason that Rex Tillerson’s “downsizing” of State is dangerous. It seems entirely possible that neither Tillerson nor Trump understand this work.

Treaties also bring benefits beyond keeping the nukes under control. The Pershing missiles came back from Europe under the INF Treaty, and the military needed a way to get rid of all the propellant they contained. Burning it in the open air would produce nitrogen oxides, against clean air regulations. I had a project for destruction of hazardous waste that looked like it might help, and the Air Force funded it. The people at the Hercules facility in Utah who were receiving the missiles told me about the Soviets who came to witness the missiles being destroyed. Americans were in Russia for the same purpose.

The man I was talking to showed the Russians around to orient them to everyday life in America. When he took them to the supermarker, they balked.

“Please take us to the place where you shop.”

“This is where I shop, where a lot of people shop.”

It turned out that the Russians found it difficult to believe that the plenty available in the supermarket was normal and thought that it was a mockup built to overawe them with American economic power. They slowly learned that no deception was involved. Likewise, Americans in Russia were disabused of some of their preconceptions about Russia. These human interactions are important in keeping our perspective and in keeping the peace.

 

Photo: Pershing II missiles at McGregor Range, Fort Bliss.

 

Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

91 replies
  1. 1

    […] Cross-posted at Balloon Juice. […]

  2. 2
    efgoldman says:

    The party of RWNJ extremism clearly decided around the beginning of this century that the constitution is a fantasy document, barely worth the parchment it’s scrawled on.
    So far in the last few years, they have eviscerated the 14th and 15th amendments; for years they have weakened the fourth, fifth and sixth. The emoluments clauses are now shredded; the first amendment is under active assault, the second has been elevated to holy writ.
    Why should they care about mere treaties?
    I love Barack Obama, but it was a major mistake to not prosecute the torturers and enablers, much more than the banksters. Even if they got off, they’d have known the public humiliation and expense of breaking the law.

  3. 3
    Karen says:

    this is one thing some friends and I have been talking about, we are all about the same age and remember vividly the cuban missile crises; we have all watched and listened in horror as the latest batch of political idiots think nuclear weapons should be used.
    Our latest concern is that dolt45 will push the button or use the “football” before the power to do so can be taken away, and prove to all his worshippers that “he is the man”

  4. 4
    Seth Owen says:

    @efgoldman: Absolutely. I understand completely why Obama didn’t do it, I sympathize with it, even think it was reasonable and yet still consider it his biggest mistake. Not holding those people responsible cost us our soul and will take generations to recoup, if we ever do.

  5. 5

    @Karen: The thing that bothers me the most about Trump and the “football” is his propensity to notch up every difference. So far he’s sticking with wrestling videos, but it’s not clear how quickly he will escalate.

  6. 6
    debbie says:

    @Karen:

    It wouldn’t surprise me. He’s all about the distraction. Things get bad enough, he’ll need a really, really big distraction. Then he’ll turn around and blame it on Obama.

  7. 7
    Cermet says:

    Let us not forget cheney the bloody handed ace torturer himself, attempted to get the pentagon to offer a nuclear strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities; only the threat resign in mass by staff officers stopped this effort. A post special reporter at the pemtagon wrote an article on this rather surprising bit if news that few noted at the time.

  8. 8
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Cotton is an utter sack of shit. It still amazes me that he survived his posting as a platoon leader in Iraq; he’s got “Doug Niedermayer” written all over his ugly mug.

  9. 9

    Thanks Cheryl, great background and perspective.

  10. 10
    Ruckus says:

    Likewise, Americans in Russia were disabused of some of their preconceptions about Russia.

    Because I used to know people and work with some from Russia, I used to look at a site called English Russia. A pictorial site about everyday life in Russia. Very interesting in a lot of ways. It covers some older stuff from WWII and when it was the USSR but mostly it is modern, everyday Russia. One could see how a lot of misconceptions happened in both directions. BTW just moving back from OH in 05 and going to the supermarkets in CA was an eyeopener about wintertime fresh fruit and veg. Much more prevalent in CA than OH. Not sure if it was purchasing habits or transportation or cost of delivered product or all of the above.

  11. 11
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    M16 rounds in the back never happened to fresh butter bars did they?

  12. 12
    Karen says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: look how quickly he has been escalating; which is frightening, he went from nasty comments to violent video is 2 days? he is headed to G20 where real leaders are going to make him even more insecure.

  13. 13
    Karen says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: now not sure where I read it, but the only reason Cotton survived is he was never around live fire where “accidents” happen

  14. 14
    Tom says:

    “It seems entirely possible that neither Tillerson nor Trump understand this work.” Correction – it is an absolute certainty that Trump doesn’t understand (nor care) about anything at all to do with this work.

  15. 15
    JPL says:

    @Karen: I think Balloon Juice needs a new tag… we’re fucked. The best thing that can happen at G20 is he can brag about how we all say Merry Christmas now, because of him. It was inappropriate last night, but nothing like his vicious attacks on the media.

  16. 16
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Discussion at the VA the other day. Fellow vet and I are discussing appointments with a scheduler who has his USMC discharge parchment framed in his office. A discussion of the M16 came up, the other patient and I discussing the finer points of the original M16 and it’s poor quality in the field. He was assigned point in Vietnam and told to go to the armory and check out whatever weapons he wanted. He asked for an M14 but those had all been sent back to the US so he ended up with a 12 ga pump shotgun. He said that people were having to use the cleaning rod to ram open the M16 breach after 3 rounds and it looked like the revolutionary war with muzzle loading muskets.

  17. 17

    @JPL:

    I think Balloon Juice needs a new tag… we’re fucked.

    Is the defeatism in the comments, not enough? Do we need to repeat it on the FP too?

    ETA: There is a WASF tag, IIRC

  18. 18

    What concerns me most about the G20 meeting is the level of insecurity illustrated by the recent tweets. If I can see it, Putin and his people can see it and will put it to good use. Hard to see what will come of that.

    On “we’re fucked,” there are a number of things that haven’t come out as badly as they looked. Trump (so far) has stepped back from a number of abysses. Of course, it’s not a great idea that he’s been playing around so many of them.

  19. 19
    JPL says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    What concerns me most about the G20 meeting is the level of insecurity illustrated by the recent tweets. If I can see it, Putin and his people can see it and will put it to good use.

    You would label that under what? just sayin

    btw Great post and thank you for spending time with us.

  20. 20

    @Seth Owen:
    I can see why you guys think that, but I’m glad he didn’t. It would not have slowed down anything happening now by an iota, even if Bush and Cheney were jailed. But given the Supreme Court, I consider it far more likely that a ruling would have come down enshrining officially Republicans’ rights to break any laws they feel like. That would be worse than the current situation.

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ruckus: Since then a number of things have happened to the venerable M16. In the 80’s, we had the A1 model, and the jamming problem had been fixed. Stoner’s original spec called for specific powder to be used with the rounds, and the Ordnance Corps rejected it because…not invented here. So you have jammed chambers and so forth.

    Besides, it’s called “fragging” because you use a grenade, not your personal weapon, to do the deed.

  22. 22

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I think manipulation tools are moot. It looks to me like Putin owns Trump, and it’s only a question of how formalized that relationship is.

  23. 23

    @JPL: I always find selecting the categories for my posts interesting. The categories are very different across Balloon Juice and Nuclear Diner. I kind of like “All we want is life beyond the thunderdome” in place of what is being suggested for “we’re fucked.” I really don’t think we’re fucked. America is very powerful, and the resistance so far is strong. But we do have to keep it going.

    I’m glad you liked the post.

  24. 24
    Another Scott says:

    Great post. Thanks Cheryl.

    I’ve told this story before (don’t take the details as gospel – I may be misremembering some of them) – My father had a pen-pal in the USSR when I was growing up with him outside of Atlanta in the early ’70s. They would occasionally exchange gifts. He sent my dad a Soviet mechanical watch, and my dad reciprocated by sending him a Seiko quartz. Once he sent my dad a very detailed drawing of a single blade safety razor that he wanted – something that went out of fashion in the US about 20 years earlier. I think he ended up sending him a Gillette Trac II and a bunch of refills. ;-)

    You’re right that actual real-life contact between real-life people living their lives is eye-opening and vital for understanding. It was hard for me to take seriously the fear-mongering that the Soviets were inevitably going to conquer us (or that their lives were so much better and happier than ours) on seeing such things with my own eyes…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  25. 25
    JPL says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind, because I think the next couple of weeks are going to be shaky.

  26. 26
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @JPL:

    we all say Merry Christmas now, because of him. It was inappropriate last night, but nothing like his vicious attacks on the media.

    It took me a while to realize that he took Air Force 1 to Bedminster, his country club in NJ, on Friday, took it back to DC on Saturday for the sole purpose of delivering that unhinged speech, flew back to Bedminster Saturday night, and I think will return once again to the White House sometime Monday. Inefficient and uneconomical, and all on the taxpayers’ dime. Not only does he not even care about the optics, but he also takes great pleasure in jamming his (ever so tiny) fingers in our eyes.

  27. 27
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    I’ll rephrase and repeat my question. No butter bar ever got shot in the back?

  28. 28
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    Cheryl, I’d love to get your opinion on something…

    Scott Pruitt is wreaking havoc at the EPA. How do you suppose career environmentalists there are responding to his “work”? Do they show up, nod their heads and cry in the restroom? Do they actively try to thwart him? Morale must be in the sewer there.

    Thoughts?

  29. 29
    JWR says:

    @Karen:

    .. he is headed to G20 where real leaders are going to make him even more insecure..

    Reminds me of a Frank Zappa quote, and paraphrasing very broadly here: “this is so embarrassing that I’m feeling embarrassed for him“, or something to that effect. But really, Trump is a national embarrassment, a man Putin will play like a cat with a ball of string.

  30. 30
    Immanentize says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I love your posts — Thank you! The whole Cotton move is weird as the Republicans always say they want bi-lateral, not multi-lateral, treaties to maximize our negotiation power. And then, Saint Ronald of Orangeland. What don’t they get? Are they full on paranoid isolationist?

    As I wrote that I see I answered my own question.

  31. 31

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): Not Cheryl, but my mom’s friend, an epidemiologist who retired from the EPA a couple of years ago, tells me that the morale is at an all time low. That’s what she hears from her former colleagues. Pruitt sued the EPA many times, he is not exactly liked by the people who work there.

  32. 32
    efgoldman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    What concerns me most about the G20 meeting is the level of insecurity

    Insecurity, absolutely; also immaturity, pig ignorance, temper and mendacity, all rolled up in one subhuman that somehow took over one of our political parties.
    Every day I think it’s not possible for me to have more hate and less respect for another human being, and every day he proves me wrong.

  33. 33
    Immanentize says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): I can answer ths one as I know a bunch of career EPA lawyers. They have a job to do and they are trying to do it. The laws are still pretty clear in some areas and Pruitt can only slow them down. If he refuses to do the work of clean air or clean water, etc.; at least in its narrower form, the courts will make them do it. So people are sad and pissed but still working hard to save us all from the poisons of pollution.

  34. 34

    @Immanentize: What is their beef against multilateral treaties, the post WWII order of multilateral treaties has benefited the United States immensely.

  35. 35
    Immanentize says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: @efgoldman: I read that the European members had a pre-meeting about how to cabin Trump. I think Macron might just point and laugh.

  36. 36

    @efgoldman: He is the embodiment of the lowest common denominator that Rs cater to.

  37. 37
    JPL says:

    Thursday his tweets convinced me that nothing is normal. As defeatist as I sometimes sound, let’s remember who said this..
    ‘I’m the Last Thing Standing Between You and the Apocalypse’… Hillary Clinton.

    I still work on local politics and hope to put a new mayor in office this fall, and that involves working with Handel and Trump supporters. baby steps.

  38. 38
    Immanentize says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Of course multilateral treaties have helped us! Look at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    It is a theoretical beef for Republicans — the more we take other counties’ concerns and needs into consideration in multi-lateral discussions, the less we maximize US interests. The TTP is a very good example of this. Trump and his supporters think that we would have done better in NAFTA if we had dealt with Canada first, then Mexico. But the world no longer works this way. And it hasn’t since the end of WWII.

  39. 39
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    @Immanentize:

    Thanks for the info (you, too, S Cat)… the homely putz probably doesn’t come within a corridor’s reach of anyone but the top brass. Still, I hope he feels the psychic loathing wafting his way.

  40. 40

    @JPL: There are two visions about this country should stand for, that’s the real battle. T is just the symptom of the rot in one of our major parties.
    ETA: I was not chastising you, I too feel like you do at times. That’s when I step away from blogs. Good on you for being involved.

  41. 41
    Another Scott says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): altUSEPA on Twitter might give some insight.

    HTH a little.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  42. 42
    Immanentize says:

    @schrodingers_cat: @efgoldman:
    My fear is that we are in a stupidity vortex trap. The people who are most uninformed are the most certain in their right to just “know” stuff without facts or evidence. When we defeat Trump, there will be a rationality and reason narrative which will just insult the Trump people even further into violent rage…. And on and on.

  43. 43
    Immanentize says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): If psychic loathing were tangible, Pruitt would disintegrate from the inside out at the cellular level.

  44. 44
  45. 45
    JPL says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Truthfully, it’s difficult to stay involved sometimes, because you are placed with folks you despise. The secretary of health and human services is from my town. It’s strange how folks can be so progressive on the local level, but so cruel nationally.
    I guess you can support conservation on the local level, because the results of not doing that are visible. Sad.

  46. 46

    @JPL: Where I live, the most annoying peeps are the leftier-than-thou folks.

  47. 47
    Immanentize says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Hmmm. Thanks for asking, but not great — trying to stay away from that topic until Wednesday (PET tomorrow, Doc on Wed.) Fearing pancreatic metastasization (I know, not a word).

  48. 48

    @Immanentize: {{ }}. I am sorry to hear that. Fingers crossed for the PET scan.

  49. 49
    JPL says:

    @Immanentize: What a terrible disease, and all I can offer are internet hugs.

    My ex had colon cancer and his doctor would overlay the pet and mri scans. I’m not sure why, but it gave her more info about what was going on.

  50. 50
    Karen says:

    @Immanentize: Marcon is everything that dolt thinks he is; probably could ignore Marcon except for that handshake, I expect to have him tweet nasty things about Marcon soon after meeting

  51. 51
    efgoldman says:

    @Immanentize:

    I read that the European members had a pre-meeting about how to cabin Trump.

    I thought that was his first trip (the one that started in the ME, where he gave away the store and the warehouse) but they could have done it again, or I can be wrong again.

  52. 52
    JPL says:

    @Karen: Merkel gets the first tweet.. She’s a woman who is more powerful than he is.

  53. 53

    @Immanentize: The preeminent position of the United States has insulated too many people from their horrible electoral choices. Its not restricted to the right wing either.

  54. 54
    Karen says:

    @Immanentize: sorry to hear that, pancreatic cancer killed mother; the last week they couldn’t get enough morphine in her for her to not feel pain. brother was with her, he was so pissed that they couldn’t overdose her and end misery

  55. 55
    efgoldman says:

    @Immanentize:

    When we defeat Trump, there will be a rationality and reason narrative which will just insult the Trump people even further into violent rage….

    Frankly i don’t give a flying fuck. I don’t own a weapon and I’m not going to get one. Every demented RWNJ that pulls a trigger ends up in jail or dead. Lettem

    Fuckem

  56. 56
    Immanentize says:

    @efgoldman: Last time.
    This time.
    Every Time!!

  57. 57
    Karen says:

    @JPL: was told after I had PET scan that should have had either MRI or CT so that could get clear picture, so oncologist wanted to reorder tests. even with excellent insurance the copay is horrendous.

  58. 58

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): I don’t know anyone at EPA, so it’s hard to say how people there feel. I have seen some comment that the career people in the various agencies are tending to stay put. If they’re close to retirement, they are probably checking their retirement accounts and thinking hard about leaving. But most of the employees are civil servants. They believe, as I believed for most of the time I worked at Los Alamos, that they are working for the people of the United States of America. Some news coverage has called them “Obama administration holdovers.” That’s a poor way of putting it. They may have worked for the Bush administration and the Clinton administration before that. And they feel beholden to the American people, not an administration. Morale is probably pretty bad, but I can imagine many of them just thinking that they will do their best and get through. Maybe a few are planning a rebellion of sorts; that would be bureaucratic, not shooting.

    That’s my best guess.

  59. 59
    Another Scott says:

    @Immanentize: I don’t think there’s even that much of a “philosophy” behind Donnie’s position on multilateral agreements.

    Remember he said “I alone can fix it”.

    He’s taken “The Art of the Deal” to heart. He thinks he’s the greatest negotiator in the history of the world, and that he can convince anyone to agree to anything that he wants. That’s why he wants to trash all multilateral agreements (Bannon has his reasons also too, but they don’t align exactly). He has convinced himself that he can throw the US’s weight around and get exactly what “we” want and not have to give up anything in return.

    He thinks he’s Commodore Perry and that gunboat diplomacy is the way forward.

    He’s deluded, dangerous, senile, and all the rest. With any luck, he’ll be rebuked at the G20, and won’t give Putin anything of value. But we really can’t know, can we?

    (sigh)

    And then there’s a vicious rumor floating around that I think could really hurt Mitt Romney. I heard he passed universal health care when he was governor of Massachusetts. (Laughter.) Someone should get to the bottom of that.

    And I know just the guy to do it -– Donald Trump is here tonight! (Laughter and applause.) Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. (Laughter.) And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter –- like, did we fake the moon landing? (Laughter.) What really happened in Roswell? (Laughter.) And where are Biggie and Tupac? (Laughter and applause.)

    But all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. (Laughter.) For example — no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice — (laughter) — at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team cooking did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf. (Laughter.) You fired Gary Busey. (Laughter.) And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. (Laughter and applause.) Well handled, sir. (Laughter.) Well handled.

    Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Let’s see what we’ve got up there. (Laughter.)

    (Screens show “Trump White House Resort and Casino.”)

    It’s all a bad dream, isn’t it? No??!?!

    (sigh)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  60. 60
    Karen says:

    @JPL: I fully expect him to do ignore that she even exists; he hates women and hates women in power to the point he refuses to even see them. Now if she was young and “good looking”

  61. 61
    Immanentize says:

    @Karen: My Father died of pancreatic cancer as well. He was on heavy doses of delaudid. Still, he would say, “Boli” which in his native Czech (which he almost never spoke as an adult) means “hurts.”

  62. 62
    Another Scott says:

    @Another Scott: Drats. I used the Casino word without the buried HTML tricks and got thrown in the dungeon.

    Help?

    Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  63. 63

    @JPL: Local politics is a big part of how we take the country back. And yes, we will have to work with Trump supporters. Like the Russians in my example.

  64. 64
    Another Scott says:

    @Immanentize: :-( Fingers crossed for the Mrs., and for you.

    Hang in there.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  65. 65
  66. 66
    Immanentize says:

    @Another Scott: I didn’t mean to imply that Trump has a theory, but the Republicans generally do — Bush II was a big anti-multilateral agreement guy. Even Clinton liked to leverage bi-lateral power when he could. In the end, bi-lateralism versus multi-lateralism is a huge driving narrative of our times.

  67. 67
  68. 68
    d58826 says:

    They are part of the reason that Rex Tillerson’s “downsizing” of State is dangerous. It seems entirely possible that neither Tillerson nor Trump understand this work.

    Evan scarier is that some one does (Hi Vlad) and wants it shut down. Amazing how so many bad outcomes seem to travel from Trumpville to Moscow. But no collusion AND her E-mails.

  69. 69

    @Immanentize: Why is bilateralism better? Do they think that United States can arm twist other countries more easily one on one?

  70. 70
    d58826 says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Kind of odd when you consider two of the most successful multi-lateral efforts have been NATO and, while the US is not a member, we certainly benefit from the EU.

  71. 71
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    The man I was talking to showed the Russians around to orient them to everyday life in America. When he took them to the supermarker, they balked.

    “Please take us to the place where you shop.”

    “This is where I shop, where a lot of people shop.”

    Back in the early 90s (IIRC) some Russain cavers came to the Ozarks for a taste of Missouri mud. Same story, the grocery store was their favorite place. The choices of breakfast cereals totally befuddled them. Could not wrap their heads around the fact that they could even buy one of each if they wanted.

  72. 72

    @schrodingers_cat and @Immanentize: I think it is because they have difficulty conceptualizing a more complex relationship than one on one.

  73. 73
    tybee says:

    @Ruckus: damn. i know a marine radio operator who, in 1971, ditched his m16 for a 12 gauge.

  74. 74
    Ruckus says:

    @Immanentize:
    Best of luck. Tell her we are pulling for her. And you.

    And as I always have to do, for all the obvious and not so obvious reasons

    FUCK Fucking Cancer

  75. 75
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ruckus: Not to my knowledge. Although it’s hard to say with all those rounds going off around you in a firefight and all.

  76. 76
    John Revolta says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I read over at LGM that Pruitt at EPA has asked for full-time security protection from his own employees.

  77. 77
    Ruckus says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I think it’s because the feel they can have more power in one on one. In a multilateral treaty, everyone gets a piece, even if it’s a small one. The multilateral treaty can be a much stronger world agreement because of this. Rs don’t want equality or stronger world agreements, they want ultimate power.

  78. 78
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    As I’ve said here before, never in combat, never even had to point the weapon I carried at someone. But, and it’s a big, round, firm but, I served with some people who were maybe not all there. I’d bet that there were some of these in country with weapons and that at some point……. Now a grenade would be better, no direct evidence, more likely to work, etc……..

  79. 79
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ruckus: There was an incident in the Iraq War that involved a Claymore mine and grenades. Two officers were killed.

  80. 80
    JCJ says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I remember well the deployment of Pershing II’s and cruise missiles as I was a college student in Hamburg Germany during the ’81 – ’82 school year. Where would these geniuses want these missiles placed now?

  81. 81
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Weapons control does seem like such an outdated theory doesn’t it? How are we going to be able to kill people we don’t like catching us stealing if we can’t have access to deadly weapons?
    How did a supply sargent get hold of a claymore out of a direct combat area? Especially one who is not allowed to go to supply unescorted.
    There were people in the navy I didn’t particularly like but killing them because they were assholes? Isn’t that maybe a few steps too far? I mean I wasn’t a “good” sailor, I only went where I was told, did my job to the best of my ability and couldn’t wait to get out. I did always wonder what a “good” sailor was though. I don’t think I would want to be one of them.

  82. 82

    @JCJ: I don’t think they’ve thought it out that far.

  83. 83
    mainmata says:

    @Ruckus: I worked in Moscow and the Russian Far East (Vladivostok and Khabarovsk) starting a year after the end of the Soviet Union. There were only a few small supermarkets in the parts of Moscow where the well-off Russians and foreigners lived and service in the ordinary markets was really awful. That said, ordinary Russians (not the government), especially in the Far East were generous and very creative with few (mind you I was dealing mostly with scientists). But certainly, our modern supermarket was almost inconceivable and, like the rest of Europe, street markets are much more important or were, at least, back then. (I haven’t been back since 1997).

  84. 84
    Chris says:

    @Seth Owen:

    Trying the torturers would’ve been the shock of the century, or more. Since the Civil War at least, the precedent has been set over and over that right wing politicians and their lackeys will face no punishment for their crimes. No matter what their crimes. Nixon us as close as we’ve come, and he was pardoned.

    That’s not an argument against it, necessarily, but it’s an observation that this would’ve been a hell of a step.

  85. 85
    d58826 says:

    Saw the tweet earlier but didn’t get to grab the link

    Why is Chris Christie the most unpopular man in NJ?
    Not only does he shut down the state on the 4th weekend
    Not only does that shutdown access to state run beaches
    But he then stays in a state run facility ON one of those closed beaches and when called out on it verbally flipped the bird to the state tax payers.

    Maybe he is hoping that if his is a big enough b*****, then he can leave office with the unbeatable approval rating of 0%. At this popint it is the only thing he can hope for.

  86. 86
    d58826 says:

    @JCJ: Well certainly not close to any of Der Fuhrer’s golf courses or hotels. Everything else is fair game. I hear that that Pope guy has a real nice patio outside his window. Maybe he would let Der Fuhrer use a corner of it.

  87. 87
    Ruckus says:

    @mainmata:
    My first real contact was a fellow I knew and talked to every day. He owned a lunch truck that came by my business. This was 10 yrs before the fall of the USSR. One day a truck mechanic from next door was talking to him about how much better he liked it back home. The lunch truck owner asked him if he was fucking crazy, the US was much better. Here he could own a home, with a hot tub. He could own his own business. He didn’t have to pay corrupt cops or politicians just to stay alive. And he actually made money, something he could never do without joining the party in the USSR so that he could steal and grift, which he said was the only way to get ahead in any way there. The website English Russia is just a snapshot of the changes but it seems to be a lot better for a lot of people. Not necessarily ideal, but then we have drumpf, so we should be talking?

  88. 88
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Karen: My mom died of pancreatic cancer too. As I understand it, there still aren’t good treatments for it, it is a cancer that is stumping medical science.

    But cancer that starts somewhere else, say the colon, and then spreads to the pancreas isn’t pancreatic cancer; it is still colon cancer. It is treated with the protocols for colon cancer (which may or may not involved the same chemo drugs).

    Different types of cancers like to migrate to different spots. For example, migrating breast cancer cells tend to set up shop in the bones, liver, lungs and brain.

    Anyway, I wish Mrs. I effective treatments and minimal side effects.

  89. 89
    Ruckus says:

    @Ohio Mom:
    One of the issues with pancreatic cancer is that it is rarely detected until later stages. At that point it is, as many know, very difficult to battle. As I understand it there really isn’t a test for it yet. The big ones, breast, prostate, colon all have tests to at least get the docs started towards biopsies. Other cancers may be rather rare and so may not be found early enough in the life cycle for reasonable treatment. Lung cancer for example, for which there are two types and one is much more aggressive. But current treatments can work on some otherwise hard to treat cancers. With the very targeted radiation therapy available now I saw the VA was treating brain cancer on the same machine I was treated with. Don’t know the success rate.

  90. 90
    jl says:

    Bad as Reagan was, and I think 80 percent of what he did was bad, he was a good leader on some big and important things. The INF treaty was one of them.
    Those few positive things he did separates him from the lowest rung of presidenting represented by Dub, and the cesspit of Trump.

    Interesting how the legacy and True Thought of Zombie St. Reagan is blithely overthrown by dimwits like Cotton and Trump when it interferes with their nutcase reactionary agendas, or their chaotic impulses and whatever the last loon case in the room was raving about, in the case of Trump.

  91. 91
    DHD says:

    Even coming down from Canada, supermarkets in the USA are an awe-inspiring experience. I’ve been known to wander the aisles of the Hannaford in St. Albans, VT mumbling to myself “they have how many flavors of boxed macaroni and cheese?!?!”

    Then I remember that university tuition is $3500 a year and it costs me nothing to go to the doctor :)

    In the end, I usually bring back at least 12 bottles of Polar Seltzer and a couple pounds of deli sliced American cheese (a thing that does not exist in Canada).

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