We all thought that the Cold War ended when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. But recent remarks by the Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Russian congress in his yearly State of the Nation address has the news wires, political analysts, and NATO command asking if the Cold War is hot again. President Putin stated the he plans halt Russia’s commitments to the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFET) at least until new NATO states have ratified the treaty. The CFET has strong limits on signatory nations on the number of military troops and equipment positioned in continental Europe. Think of the CFET as a cap on what countries could spend in military hardware, or a stop light on the arms race.
President Putin is taking a hard stance on the CFET because the Czech Republic and Poland, former Soviet block countries, are thought to be potential locations for an European missile defense shield proposed and sponsored by the United States. The Bush administration believes that a missile defense shield along and facing the Russian border will protect NATO nations against missile threats from Iran or North Korea. Since the Bush administration has been caught crying wolf about Weapons of Mass Destruction President Putin dispelled the logic behind having an American missile defense in Europe by saying, “This talk about defense against terrorist is simply ridiculous, terrorist use other methods, and the terrorist threat should be countered by cooperation rather than confrontation.”
President Putin is also quoted as saying that the presence of American missiles in Europe would heighten the risk of mutual destruction. In regards to the Russian protest of the missile defense the United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dismissed Putin’s concerns as laughable. She said, “The idea that somehow 10 interceptors and a few radars in Eastern Europe are going to threaten the Soviet strategic deterrent is purely ludicrous.” Instead of ridiculing the concerns of the Russian head of state, a man in command of thousand of nuclear warheads, I would recommend that the US Secretary of State review the events that lead up to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
At the height of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to a standstill as it almost brought it to an end. From the American perspective the crisis began when the Soviet Union furnished Cuba with Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) armed with nuclear warheads. Cuba is just 90 miles south of Florida and a Soviet ICBM has the range to reach Washington, D.C. or New York. From the Soviet perspective, the crisis began when the United States installed nuclear warheads in Turkey. Let us remember history, not repeat it.
In the 1987 President Regan said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” It seems that President Putin is now trying to say, “Mr. Bush, don’t build this wall!”
[tags]cold war, russia, europe, czech, missile crisis, icbm, warhead, treaty, nato[/tags]