Today in the Americas, the US Withdraw from the ABMT

As the era of Star Wars, mutually-assured destruction and East-West dichotomies waned from American and Russian perception, in 2002 (7 years ago) President George W. Bush withdrew the US from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT), originally signed in 1972.

Russian cartoon in response to SALT II

Russian cartoon in response to SALT II

From someone who did not live through the Cold War (full disclosure: I was born in 1987), the world of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABMs), meant to shoot down ICBMs, seems quite scary.

I assume others felt the same way, but instead of eliminated these long-range weapons, the Soviet Union and the United States sought to assure limitations to proliferation while maintaining massive stockpiles of armed missiles. Mutually-assured destruction (MAD) became a US-USSR policy(!) and, thus, a deterrent to nuclear war.

After the first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I), the ABMT was signed by Nixon and Brezhnev in 1972. The US saw the protection of both sides nuclear balance as important as deterrence while the Soviet Union saw the treaty as a way to avoid an ABM technology race coupled with a ICBM race. In a build-up that we struggle with today, in 1983 Ronald Reagan proposed a “Strategic Defense Initiative” (SDI, or Star Wars) that would create an industry of defense contracting while the numbers of ICBMs were being reduced. The 2008 election showcased the divide as John McCain and Republicans called for a new SDI, as if Star Wars (one of the biggest jokes in US national security history) was something America clamored for. But, to maybe no one’s surprise sitting here in 2009, the world was not destroyed and the Cold War eventually ended.

After USSR collapsed, what became of the ABMT? Similar agreements were maintained with the Russian Federation until 2002, when George W. Bush withdrew, citing the changing security environment after 9/11 – something folks like Dick Cheney and Bushites continue to justify in the haze that bitterly sets “peace” back decades.

Thus, the SORT (Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty) signed between the US and Russia in 2002. Saying nothing of deterrence or proliferation, the treaty reduces the amount of arms both nations can create while saying nothing of eliminating existing stockpiles (the US has 5,200 active missiles and 4,800 saved). The treaty expires on Dec. 31, 2012.

us bush nuclear nonproliferation treaty

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has been weakened due to the blurry lines between disarmament and non-proliferation. The treaty was opened on July 1, 1968, and only Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan have not signed the treaty (who have nuclear weapons or nuclear capabilities). Iran is a member of the treaty, but its weakness is showcased by its inability to quell the vitriol being spilled over Iran. Many see current North Korea’s real threat is not a nuclear attack, but the selling (proliferation) of nuclear materials to other nations. The insistence of the US to deal with “rogue nations” with first-strike capabilities and the advancement of nuclear technologies has made the world less safe.

Putin, only a few days ago, expressed a desire for a nuclear free world – something he and President Obama can come to terms with when the two meet in December for a discussion of renewing the Bush’s policies on nuclear warheads.

Ghana, clearly the only sane country in the world (a little hyperbole) said disarmament and non-proliferation were complementary and mutually reinforcing and that, “Without tangible progress in disarmament, the current emphasis on non-proliferation cannot be sustained.”

As Tom Gabel sings on “Amputations,” (2009):

What kind of future are you promising us?
Just another generation living under threat of the bomb
God save our soul

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~ by Daniel on June 13, 2009.

One Response to “Today in the Americas, the US Withdraw from the ABMT”

  1. […] here to see the original: Today in the Americas, the US Withdraw from the ABMT « To The Roots Tags: ecuador, guatemala, history, honduras, ronald-reagan, Today, writing […]

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