INF Treaty Defenders Raise the Risk of Nuclear War
Wall Street Journal
By Mike Gallagher and Elbridge Colby
June 30, 2019
President Trump last year announced the U.S. would withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. That made sense because Russia was violating the pact and China, which was not a signatory, had exploited it to undermine the U.S. conventional military edge in Asia.
Some in Congress who objected to Mr. Trump’s decision are trying to nullify it by defunding conventional weapons covered by the soon-to-be defunct treaty. The House voted largely on party lines last month to zero out research and development for conventional intermediate-range missiles. If they prevail, it will heighten the risk of nuclear war.
The best way to reduce the chance of nuclear confrontation with great-power competitors is by having conventional forces able to repel any invasion of U.S. allies, and conventional ground-based missile systems would help. Nor would they undermine any efforts to manage nuclear risks. The original INF pact was essentially about nuclear weapons; conventional missiles were included largely for verification reasons. The R&D funding the House zeroed out wasn’t even prohibited under the treaty.
For Moscow or Beijing, the best strategy for victory in attacking a U.S. ally is the fait accompli. If Russia can seize the Baltics, or China seize Taiwan, and harden its position, the U.S. would be forced to mount a massive counterassault to liberate them. In that scenario, the adversary’s threat to use nuclear weapons would be more credible.
Read the full op-ed here.