So, a 30-year old, landmark nuclear arms agreement between the U.S. and Russia is now history. Just like that. And, beyond a few short hours of media coverage, it now seems all but forgotten. No big deal at all. Our guest on today's BradCast, however, strongly disagrees. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary.]
But first, a few quick items to kick off the show, including...
- The Stupidest Man on the Internet (no, not Trump) tweets something incredibly dumb about solar power. (Hint: Solar power works because of the light from the sun, not from its heat.);
- The Trump Administration vows that Tuesday night's State of the Union address will be a call for unity and bipartisan cooperation, before the Second Stupidest Man on the Internet (yes, Trump) attacks Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for not winning enough seats in last year's midterm elections;
- And federal prosecutors in New York file a subpoena seeking a massive amount of documents from Trump's 2017 Inauguration Committee, looking at virtually every aspect of the record $107 million raised, whether any of it unlawfully came from foreign sources, whether anything was unlawfully offered in exchange for donations, whether even more more was unlawfully paid directly by donors to vendors (and thus, unlawfully undisclosed to the FEC), and where all of that money (legalized bribes, in fact, a disgrace for all modern Presidents) actually went. It all amounts to more seemingly criminal chaos from anything Trump touches, from his inaugural committee, to the Trump Organization (his main private company), to the Trump Foundation (his phony, self-dealing slush-fund and "charity"), to Trump University (his fraudulent scam that settled several cases for $25 million just before he took office), to the Trump Campaign (facing myriad criminal probes and several convictions, guilty pleas and indictments), to the Trump Administration and everyone involved in it --- all being investigated by multiple state and federal probes at this point, at the very same time.
Then, we're joined by former Deputy Assistant Sec. of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs under President Obama, MICHAEL FUCHS, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, to discuss the Trump Administration's announced withdrawal over the weekend from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement struck between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The historic pact had been the first to ban an entire class of nuclear weapons, ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles.
With the Administration charging that Russia was in violation of the accord (which Fuchs confirms), Trump simply announced the U.S. pull-out, which was answered almost immediately by Russian President Vladimir Putin's own declaration in response that his country would now do the same. In the bargain, Fuchs explains, the U.S. has lost its ability under the agreement to inspect hundreds of nuclear missile sites and other weapons facilities.
What did we gain in return? Well, pretty much nothing, says Fuchs, who calls this "a very big deal", joining me in astonishment that coverage of this historic move to end such an important anti-nuclear proliferation treaty has all but disappeared from the corporate media within hours amidst continuing Trump-induced chaos. "In the age of Trump, nuclear weapons, climate change, things that could potentially end life on earth as we know it only merit fifteen minutes in the news cycle," Fuchs notes.
He goes on to detail what has been lost with the dissolution of "perhaps one of the biggest agreements ever reached as far as reducing the potential threat of nuclear weapons destroying us" and whether Trump's claims that this is all necessary to stand up against a supposedly growing military menace from China is actually true. We also discuss the real reasons that this "gift to Vladimir Putin" seems to have come about, how Trump's dangerous National Security Advisor John Bolton appears to oppose any and all international accords that tie the hands of the U.S. in any way, shape or form, and whether Trump's planned second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can possibly bear any realistic denuclearization fruit --- particularly on the heels of Trump again sending the message to the world that treaties between the U.S. and other nations are meant to be broken at the whim of an angry, brain-addled, and clueless President of the United States.
"The major problem here with throwing out this treaty is that, it is equivalent to basically throwing the baby out with the bathwater," Fuchs tells me. "Right now Russia is violating this treaty in a specific way, but a lot of the benefits of the treaty are still intact. Which includes the ability of the United States to actually conduct inspections and do verification of a number of different aspects of Russia's compliance with the treaty. By taking ourselves out of treaty, we are taking away our ability to inspect the other things that the Russians are doing here. And not only does that allow Russia to potentially start violating it even more, posing more danger to the United States, but it's giving a giant gift to Vladimir Putin."
Finally, Desi Doyen returns to "cheer us all up" with the latest Green News Report on hellish global warming-related nightmares from Australia to the U.S. to Antarctica; the oil lobbyist now nominated to be the next Interior Secretary; and the Administration's imminent plans to bulldoze the National Butterfly Center wildlife refuge to make way for a new border wall on the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)