By COURTENAY BARNETT
Dearly beloved, we are gathered today at the altar of the almighty truth to consider a very serious matter. It is the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the potential annihilation of our species. More particularly, the focus is on the conduct of the United States of America and Russia.
Context and a quick grasp of the motivating factors for production of these weapons can be gleaned by listening to President Eisenhower’s warning from the 1960s and then considering the stark clarity of the words of George Kennan ( he was the US architect of the ‘Cold War’).
“Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.”
― George F. Kennan
Interesting to note that the foregoing does not comprise, my thoughts or ideas or opinions – but rather the reality as expressed by highly placed US leaders.
The idea and objective of International Law is to provide a framework and set of international rules for nations and persons to conduct international relations by abiding by same ( The rule of International Law). The UN Charter and Treaties are just two demonstrable examples of International Law’ s intention as to how it is intended to work. It is not a perfect system, but without it ( or something close to it in place) – then what is the option for intended civilized and peaceful dispute resolution – brute force – or – war?
Thus, post World War 11, not only the United Nations, but a series of Laws and Treaties, such as the Geneva Conventions, set out to establish the legal new architecture for the world. In the specific context of nuclear weapons the following can be noted:-
The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty or ABMT) was signed in 1972 between the US and the then Soviet Union. The terms of the Treaty permitted each side to be limited to two ABM complexes – and – each complex was further limited to 100 anti-ballistic missiles.
In 2002 the US already had destabilised the nuclear balance when they decided to get out of the ABM Treaty. In 2002, and when you look at a map, the United States was putting missile defense bases all around Eurasia, creating a feeling of encirclement in Russia and China.
The US ideology was to put sovereignty above international law, and they wanted to have a totally free hand to keep their supremacy in the world as long as possible, and these Treaties were constraining them.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty ( INF Treaty) collapsed; it had been established between the then Soviet Union and the US at a time when Gorbochov and Reagan were leaders of their respective countries. The broad objective, as with the 1972 Treaty, was arms-control. The INF Treaty sought to eliminate all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles and the launchers for such missiles.
Citing Russian non-compliance as the reason for withdrawal, on the 20th October 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing.
It is not hard to discern the pattern of attempted rationalisation, by way of blaming deviation and/or violations to justify withdrawal. Yet, withdrawal defeats the long-term objective of an intended symmetrical containment under International Treaties.
It is also not hard to discern from the withdrawals, that one nation is seeking superiority and dominance; by placing emphasis on its “exceptionalism” in preference for assertive sovereignty over co-operative submission to International Law.
The waste of global resources and corresponding stupidity should also be noted. That approach places us ( all human beings on planet earth) at risk.
On the 2nd February, 2019 President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was also suspending the INF Treaty.
AMEN – AND INDEED IF THERE WAS EVER SUCH A WAR, THEN MANY OF US READIND THIS – WOULD BE SAYING OUR FINAL – AMEN!
So, endeth my sermon for today.
Courtenay Barnett is a graduate of London University. His areas of study were economics, political science and international law. He has been a practising lawyer for over thirty years, has been arrested for defending his views, and has argued public interest and human rights cases. He lives and works in the Caribbean.