SCOTT RITTER: A Lexicon for Disaster• Consortium News
Dec. 8 marked the 35th anniversary of the signing of the intermediate nuclear forces (INF) treaty. This landmark arms control event was the byproduct of years of hard-nose negotiations capped off by the political courage of U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev who together signed the treaty and oversaw its ratification by their respective legislatures.
The first inspectors went to work on July 1, 1988. I was fortunate to count myself among them.
In August 2019, former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the INF treaty; Russia followed shortly thereafter, and this foundational arms control agreement was no more.
The Decline of Arms Control
The termination of the INF treaty is part and parcel of an overall trend which has seen arms control as an institution — and a concept — decline in the eyes of policy makers in both Washington and Moscow. This point was driven home during a two-day period where I marked the INF anniversary with veteran arms control professionals from both the U.S. and Russia.