For the duration of the George W. Bush administration, I argued that the foreign policy tactics being pursued were leading to a new Cold War between the U.S. and Russia. In particular, Bush’s love for dropping billions on ineffective missile defense technology while he dismissed hard-earned nuclear arms treaties made me think this was afoot.
I wasn’t the only one thinking this. Blogs by respected people at the Columbia University Press blog said much the same. Edward Lucas, the Central and Eastern Europe correspondent for The Economist magazine has a book out arguing that it was Putin as much as Bush that was provoking the new Cold War. (Remember how Bush said he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his soul? That was Putin playing Bush like a fiddle.)
Finally, I saw this in The Guardian tonight:
Despite the recent thaw in relations, the US and Russia continued to spy on each other, said Mark Urnov, dean at the political science department of Russia’s Higher School of Economics.
“This [spy scandal] is an issue dating from previous years,” he said. “The security services can’t stop their activities immediately. Until recently, there was a semi-cold war between US and Russia. [Emphasis added.] So why not spy?”
Even if this does not prove my point, at very least it provides very strong support for it. A new Cold War was in the making, or even happening. And I would also argue that President Obama has effectively defused it. He’s not letting this spy ring bust get in his way of doing it.
Mark another point on President Obama’s scorecard. In the past month, he has gotten health insurance reform passed after 70 years of failure by anyone to do so; signed a new nuclear weapons treaty with Russia; and laid out a new policy for the use of nuclear weapons by the U.S.
The latest achievement came today shortly after the start of President Obama’s nuclear summit. The White House announced this morning that Ukraine “would by 2012 get rid of enough highly enriched uranium to build ‘several weapons’.” [BBC]
President Obama has long made it clear that nuclear disarmament and containment of nuclear materials is a centerpiece of his American defense policy. This would serve several important goals, one of which is working to ensure that fissile materials don’t fall into the hands of terrorists. Ukraine’s action will remove “enough [uranium] to build several nuclear weapons” from the world stage.
According to the disarmament group NTI, Ukraine currently possesses no nuclear weapons, having transferred those back to Russia in 1996. But during the Cold War, the Soviet state had “176 Soviet SS-19 and SS-24 ICBMS with a total of 1,240 warheads (!!!) and 44 strategic bombers, as well as an unspecified number of tactical nuclear warheads placed on its territory.” After the Cold War, the bombers were converted to other uses or disassembled, and the nukes returned to Russia, and the missile silos that once could have rained fire upon us were destroyed.
Even with the reduction in deployed nukes, there was still a large amount of highly enriched uranium in different facilities about Ukraine. This morning’s announcement directly addresses that problem. It’s great news, and another achievement by our president. After a year of seeming inaction, Barack Obama has proven himself to be a leader who can positively change both our country and our world.