On Friday, CNN’s New Day had Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton on the air talking about nuclear relations with Russia. According to the Congressman from Massachusetts, Russia has now changed their tune on nuclear war and for the first time, our military is admitting Russia violated a key nuclear treaty. However, it seems that Rep. Moulton does not have a strong grasp on what “now” or “first time” mean.
— New Day (@NewDay) March 17, 2017
Moulton starts by saying that, “Russia has now violated the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.” That INF treaty was signed in 1987 to eliminate short-range nuclear launchers from the arsenals of both Russia and the United States. But it seems that Russia has not been happy with the treaty for some time. They had raised the possibility of dropping the treaty with the Clinton and Bush administrations and by 2008 started testing cruise missiles that violated the treaty. The Obama administration first publicly raised their concerns over Russia’s regional missile tests in 2013.
Russia has long held that their neighbors in Asia, most notably China, have developed weapons systems that threaten their security, necessitating their need to maintain missile launchers that may violate the INF. Russia believes that the United States is also in violation of the treaty by developing short-range drones with nuclear strike ability. While several US and NATO responses were discussed under both Bush and Obama, it was ultimately decided that America would simply work together with Russia to correct any potential violations.
Despite this long-standing debate over the INF treaty under the previous two administrations, Rep. Moulton claimed on CNN, “for the first time the chiefs admitted yes – Russia is in violation of this treaty. And by the way, the Trump administration is not doing anything about that.”
Still, Rep. Moulton was not done with his fear-mongering. He went on to say,
“For a long time, Russia and the United States had this sort of mutual agreement, mutually assured destruction. […] If they shot their weapons at us, we’d shoot our weapons at them, and therefore a nuclear war was unlikely to happen. But what Russia now says is that they will quote, ‘escalate to deescalate’.”
It is correct that Russia under Vladimir Putin has revised their nuclear doctrine – in 2000 – 17 years ago. Saying that Russia is “NOW” changing their doctrine is simply propaganda aimed at destabilizing our relationship with Russia. Characterizing these challenges as a Trump problem is simply untrue.
The interview continues to fan the flames of a renewed Cold War, Rep. Moulton starts painting a grim picture of what might happen if we don’t address Russia’s nuclear capabilities. “What if they target American troops – like the American troops who are training right now in Poland – with a nuclear attack?” That is a striking and terrifying statement. Moulton goes on to call our military unprepared,
“I think that the problem here is that we don’t really have a plan to deal with that.”
To think that the United States has gone 17 years without developing a military response to a potential Russian strike is quite simply absurd. To further inflame the discussion by raising a hypothetical about Russia nuking American troops is reckless. So what would make a Democrat turn into a war hawk when it comes to Russia? As always, you just have to follow the money.
Rep. Moulton calls Massachusetts home and as the Boston Globe laid out, military spending is a massive boon for the state. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, MA, while General Electric produces engines for the F-18 in Lynn, MA. When it comes to development of robotics, there are few better than MIT in Cambridge. The Globe highlights how big of a player Massachusetts is in defense spending:
“In the 2016 fiscal year, the Department of Defense awarded contracts in Massachusetts worth $8.6 billion, while the Department of Homeland Security doled out more than $484 million.”
Rep. Moulton gave a foreign policy address in February of 2016 where he called for updating the DOD arsenal:
“We can’t address any of the threats […] if our Defense Department is still mired in 20th century ways of thinking and doing business. Bringing the Pentagon fully into the 21st century also means doubling down on [technological advantages] and capitalizing on areas where the U.S. has a decided advantage over even our most advanced adversaries. This includes next generation robotics and system autonomy, miniaturization, big data, and advanced manufacturing.”
Rep. Seth Moulton stands to gain a lot by pushing the United States into a new period of Cold War with Russia. But he also must maintain his blue-state roots. The easiest way to do that: bash Donald Trump on Russia and in turn say that we lack the ability to deal with Russia’s military threats. If he has to scare the public into thinking that we are on the brink of nuclear war with Russia to gain support for increased defense spending, then so be it. If he has to pin a problem that the previous three Presidents have dealt with to President Trump, fine by him.
It is clear – members of Congress that stand to gain from increased defense spending do not want us pursuing diplomacy with Russia. President Trump’s cozy ties to the Kremlin threaten billions of dollars in defense spending. Yes, Trump is calling for an increase, but Congressmen like Rep. Moulton and Sen. John McCain want to see even more funds flowing into their states and their pockets.