Alwaght- The US President Donald Trump has added a new item to the long list of his withdrawals from the regional and international treaties by saying on Sunday that he will quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in Europe (INF). The announcement was not surprising to the world which is now accustomed to the president’s every now and then abandoning of an agreement unilaterally. But this time, this withdrawal may carry more damage than its precedents, this time to European allies. Because it involves an arms race with the strong Russia and China and a potential harm to the security of Europe.
He withdrew Paris Climate change agreement arguing that the accord damages the American industrial power. Trump did not sustain much criticism from the governments. The criticism remained at the level of NGOs and environmentalists, as well as little blasting from France, the agreement’s host nation.
He also unilaterally quitted Iran nuclear agreement, signed in 2015 by Tehran with Western powers– the US, France, Germany, Britain–, as well as China and Russia. He went under condemnation by the signatories. Russia and China seriously censured him for the abandoning. The Europeans raised their voices in opposition and vowed to keep the pact alive through continuing trade with Iran. But considering their past records of disloyalty to Iran and the current delay of opening their banks to the Iranian money transfer and business, the Europeans are simply paying a lip service and Iran’s leaders know that well.
So, Trump was not squeezed for previous quitings. This, thus, made him dare to take longer steps, no matter if the allies are damaged in between.
The US National Security Advisor John Bolton is traveling to Russia to talk on Tuesday to President Vladimir Putin. He, according to the media, will tell the Russian leader that the White House is leaving the pact, signed between the US and the Soviet Union on September 8, 1987, arguing that Russia showed no adherence to it.
The news may prove not bad for Putin who is already bringing back Russia, out of the ashes of the Soviet Union, to the club of the world masters by a modernization campaign. Since almost a decade, he launched a well-funded program to modernize the army. His renewing of the military appears to have met the scheduled timeframe. In March, the Russian strongman unveiled the state-of-the-art nuclear weapons, boasting of their huge striking powers and invincibility, no matter how strong the enemy’s rival weapons, of course he meant the US here, are. Trump makes a strategic mistake by destroying a major wall ahead of nuclear proliferation and will unleash a terrible arms race that will appeal to Russia, a country already having winning cards to play. Moscow modernized its army, strengthened its foothold in West Asia after Syria war involvement and won the favor and trust of many regional actors, like Turkey, India, and others, who are buying worth of billions of dollars in weapons from Moscow. Apparently, Putin will jump in the ring with a strong fist as the arms are ready, influence is made, and the economy is improving thanks to energy prices rise and economic reform measures.
China also will be ready for weapons race, though cautiously. After all, it is nearly unseating the US as a global economic power. When it comes to arms, it is bracing for a potential confrontation. It is building its aircraft carrier and buying weapons from Russia including the recently sealed deal of the game-changing S-400 air defense systems and the SU-34 fighter jets. But it has some caution as its priority is business partnership not arms race. Beijing is already engaged in a trade war with Washington following Trump’s slap of tariffs to it. It does not want harm to its economy but an arms race can help it go a long way of arming in a short period as it will be forced to also prioritize military area and flex muscles in response to the US military harassments in East Asia, and mainly in the South China Sea.
But Europe looks to be the biggest damage receiver. The European leaders know that Europe will be caught in crossfire whenever a race breaks out between Russia and the US. Their borders will be at stake, their money will have to be spent on arms rather than development and they have to take the US side in the competition as their traditional ally, which means they expose themselves to risks of Russian anger.
The EU alliance with Washington is already stumbling over a set of issues including the trade tariffs, NATO funding, and a set of other cases. In May Trump pressed the EU members, mainly Germany, for increased funding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or he will “consider” quitting the military bloc.
The European leaders are afraid that the primary victim of arms race will be Europe because there will be a compromise of the European security as the two heavyweights engage in a possible nuclear race. Their borders will be at stake of Russian military actions. And there may be a retreat from the NATO expansion eastward as Russia in a race condition will be more blunt and determined to push back NATO even if some force is needed.
In Ukraine, a NATO partner, for instance, Washington, always warning against the violation of the allies, failed to practicality act against Russia and only stopped to sanctions. So, EU is afraid that a confrontation with Russia will foist losses on Europe, majorly Eastern Europe, and the Americans will sit on their hands as they did in the Ukraine case. What brings EU against Trump’s decision is the return of the American missiles to Europe after nearly three decades. In this case, Russia will point its missiles towards Europe. Europe is afraid of becoming a playground.
EU has made a statement on Monday warning of a new arms race.
“The INF contributed to the end of the cold war and constitutes a pillar of European security architecture since it entered into force 30 years ago,” a spokeswoman for the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement, adding: “Thanks to the INF treaty, almost 3,000 missiles with nuclear and conventional warheads have been removed and verifiably destroyed. The world doesn’t need a new arms race that would benefit no one and on the contrary would bring even more instability.”