McCain's Disjointed Russia Policy
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg
OK, so John McCain is back to wishful thinking today laying out his bold new plan for stemming proliferation. Obviously, reducing the stockpiles of nuclear weapons is critical to American and world security. But his plan misses one slightly important detail. The critical players in this field are obviously Russia and the United States – by far the two largest nuclear powers in the world. McCain proposes a close working relationship with the Russians on these issues, and yet just two months ago in Los Angeles when he laid out his view of the world, he suggested tossing Russia out of the G8 – a needlessly provocative act that would essentially mark the start of a new Cold War in Europe. On top of that he continues to support a regional missile defense system for Europe, which a crucial nuclear security concern for the Russians. Does he really think that he can alienate the Russians and at the same time get their cooperation on critical nuclear issues? Is he that divorced from reality? Or is he just ignoring what he said two months ago? Either way, it doesn’t make much sense.
Here is what he said two months ago at the Los Angeles Council on World Affairs:
We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia. Rather than tolerate Russia’s nuclear blackmail or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is indivisible and that the organization’s doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.
And here is what he is saying today:
As our two countries possess the overwhelming majority of the world’s nuclear weapons, we have a special responsibility to reduce their number. I believe we should reduce our nuclear forces to the lowest level we judge necessary, and we should be prepared to enter into a new arms control agreement with Russia reflecting the nuclear reductions I will seek. Further, we should be able to agree with Russia on binding verification measures based on those currently in effect under the START Agreement, to enhance confidence and transparency.
McCain’s basic plan is to slap the Russians smack across the face and then ask them for a favor. Somehow I don’t think that will work.