I have yet to see much from the right bearing objection to President Obama’s trip to Russia, which has brought a tentative agreement between the U.S. and Russia to further reduce our huge nuclear weapons stockpiles. The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) expires in early December, which would technically leave both nations free to resume building nuclear missiles. According to the Arms Control Association, we in the United States have “5,914 strategic warheads, approximately 1,000 operational tactical weapons, and approximately 3,000 reserve strategic and tactical warheads.” That’s 9,914 more than we need.
The agreement between Presidents Medvedev and Obama will not instantly reduce the number of weapons on either side. But it may have restarted the arms reduction process that was halted under what I described as “the New Cold War” that was started by former White House resident George W. Bush. Although President Obama has not wholly moved away from Bush’s missile defense program, he has tried to tell Russia it’s designed to protect against missiles from Iran. I still find that a little suspect, but it seems to be a different stance from Bush’s cowboy bravado. (Até, anyone?)
The power of nuclear weapons and Reagan’s penchant for saber-rattling in the early 80s gave me a deep interest in just who these Russians or Soviets or whatever you called them were and just why we were so opposed to them. One reason I supported Barack Obama’s candidacy was that he represented the first real change from the Cold War mindset that we’ve seen in a major presidential candidate in the past forty years. I knew he could help lead us away from the Strangeloveian blindness that Bush and his cronies were pursuing in the first years of their reign. (Good riddance, Rumsfeld and Cheney!) Much more needs to be done, but Obama’s agreement with the Medvedev-Putin regime is a good start.
Also: The Guardian has a curious cartoon on the Obama-Medvedev agreement.