Trump Warns NATO Collective Defense Could Start World War III
July 20, 2018
AntiWar.com & The Hill & Reuters
Donald Trump has once again stirred up fury among NATO nations, this time by questioning the wisdom of NATO's collective defense terms. Trump noted that under the pact, even the tiny nation of Montenegro "may get aggressive and congratulations, you're in World War III." Meanwhile, Russia has called for new steps to limit atomic war -- and has revealed its newest "super weapons."
Trump Warns NATO
Collective Defense Could Start World War III
NATO officials insist collective defense
is 'unconditional and iron-clad'
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(July 18, 2018) – In a Tuesday night interview, President Trump once again stirred up fury among NATO nations, this time by questioning the wisdom of the alliance's collective defense terms. He warned this was potentially risky because any small NATO member could quickly escalate the entire alliance into a world war.
Trump provided NATO's newest member, tiny Montenegro, as an example. A nation of just 630,000 people, Trump warned "they may get aggressive and congratulations, you are in World War III." Trump added that this was "very unfair."
This is of course true, and not just of Montenegro, but literally any of NATO's member nations. While Trump's terming of Montenegrins as "very aggressive people" didn't sit well with many, the potential for one smaller NATO member nation to provoke a war is not some new concern, but a frequent criticism of the NATO model for decades.
NATO officials were quick to criticize Trump, saying that NATO's Article 5 provision for collective defense is "unconditional and iron-clad." This only adds to concerns among NATO nations that Trump's commitment to the alliance is by their standards imperfect.
NATO officials were already unhappy with Trump going into last week's summit, and more so coming out of it. The latest comments are a reminder that the threat of World War 3 remains a serious concern for the US president, and one not easily dispelled.
Montenegrin officials were quick to fire back that they don't intend to start any wars. Again, this misses the serious concerns of the alliance's obligations, as NATO has no shortage of members liable to pick fights and then come running to the alliance for "defense."
It's not even just the current members of NATO. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has voted to express its support for "all" nations to join NATO if they want to. This means effectively any nation in the world with an axe to grind might join NATO with an eye toward using the alliance as its backup.
Trump is right in recognizing the dangers of NATO collective defense, something previous presidents have been loathe to publicly discuss. Yet in doing so he's once again riled up angered foreign officials who didn't like him in the first place.
Trump Says Critics Badly Want War With Russia
Says they're pushing recklessly for a 'major confrontation'
Jason Ditz/ AntiWar.com
(July 19, 2018) – In comments on Twitter early Thursday, President Trump faulted his critics, saying he believes they "badly want to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war."
Trump has been saying he wants better relations with Russia since the 2016 campaign, and has been facing heavy criticism for that position ever since. This week saw Trump's first summit with Putin since the election.
That summit went well, but Trump was roundly castigated by much of the media as well as the overwhelming majority of US lawmakers. They were indeed demanding confrontations of Vladimir Putin and were extremely angry that the summit went well.
Trump believes this amounts to pushing "recklessly hard" for war, saying "they hate the fact that I'll probably have a good relationship with Putin." Though these critics generally aren't advocating for war itself, they have been advocating for years for ever-worsening bilateral relations.
It is this hostility toward Russia that has driven bilateral ties to their worst point since the height of the Cold War, and has them resisting even the hint of detente. While they aren't necessarily expecting this to lead to war, they are determined to see it not lead to peace.
President Trump is being increasingly vocal about his annoyance at this resistance to his diplomatic overtures, despite avoiding a war with Russia seemingly being an obvious part of long-term US strategic interests.
But as President Trump firmly positions himself against a disastrous war with Russia, it is likely to escalate the rhetoric coming out of his critics, making their anti-Russia stance yet more overt and more willing to counsel an unthinkable conflict.
Putin Says He Told Trump that Russia
Prepared to Extend START Treaty
Eric Beech, Eric Walsh and David Alexander / Reuters
WASHINGTON (July 16, 2018) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview broadcast on Monday that he told US President Donald Trump that Russia is prepared to extend the New START nuclear treaty that expires in 2021.
"I reassured President Trump that Russia stands ready to extend this treaty, to prolong it, but we have to agree on the specifics at first, because we have some questions to our American partners," Putin told Fox News in an interview after a summit with Trump on Monday in Helsinki.
"We think that they are not fully compliant with the treaty, but this is for experts to decide," Putin added.
The New START treaty, signed on April 8, 2010, calls for deployable nuclear warheads and bombs to be capped at no more than 1,550. It limits deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and nuclear bombers to 700 and non-deployed ICBMs, SLBM and bombers to 800.
The treaty lasts for 10 years and can be extended by up to five years. The New START treaty gave both countries until February this year to reach the treaty limits.
Both sides say they met the treaty caps earlier this year, but Russia has raised questions about the US conversion of some submarines and bombers to carry conventional weapons, saying it has no way to verify they cannot also be used for nuclear arms.
While Trump has criticized the treaty as a bad deal negotiated by his predecessor, proponents of the accord say it is important because it created a new monitoring regime, including data exchanges, that enable the two sides to verify compliance.
Russia Announces New Nuclear Weapons Tests
Days after Trump-Putin Summit
Justin Wise / The Hill
(July 19, 2018) – Russia is reportedly testing a range of new nuclear weapons and other military hardware including a high-powered laser, just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin met with President Trump for a one-on-one summit in Finland.
The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Russia had tested weapons that range from the laser weapon system to a nuclear-powered cruise missile. The cruise missile is reported to have "unlimited" range.
On Thursday, the country's Defense Ministry reportedly said that it had tested the Burevestnik cruise missile and is now preparing it for a flight test.
"The program of the system's pop-up tests has been completed with the positive results, which makes it possible to switch to preparations for the flight trials of the Sarmat missile complex," the Defense Ministry said, according to Tass, a Russian news agency.
The AP also notes that military officials in Russia said the country is practicing how to utilize a Peresvet high-powered laser weapon system. It is also practicing trials of the Poseidon underwater nuclear drone.
The development comes after Trump and Putin concluded a high-stakes summit in Helsinki on Monday.
Trump has faced bipartisan criticism over his refusal to denounce Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
But Trump and the White House have sought to walk back his remarks appearing to accept Putin's denial. Trump told reporters that he misspoke, and added in a Wednesday interview with CBS that he holds Putin responsible.
Trump added Thursday that he wants to have a second meeting with Putin to implement things regarding topics they discussed, including nuclear proliferation.
"I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more. There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems . . . but they can ALL be solved!" Trump said on Twitter.
Days after Helsinki Summit,
Russia Shows Off Putin's 'Super Weapons'
Tom Balmforth / Reuters
MOSCOW (July 19, 2018) -- Russia on Thursday broadcast a series of videos showing the testing and operation of a new generation of nuclear and conventional weapons, days after Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump discussed how to avoid an arms race.
President Putin announced an array of new nuclear weapons in March in one of his most bellicose speeches in years, saying they could hit almost any point in the world and evade a US-built missile shield.
Both he and Trump, who held their first summit in Helsinki on Monday, have spoken of the need to avoid an arms race, and Putin has spoken of the urgent need to work to extend the new START strategic arms reduction treaty.
On Thursday, the Russian Defence Ministry aired Hollywood-style footage of many of the new weapons Putin unveiled in March being tested or in action.
It showed a Russian MiG-31 fighter jet taking off from an airfield carrying the new Kinjal hypersonic missile and then launching it while airborne.
MiG-31 jets which patrol the Caspian Sea have been armed with the Kinjal since April, the Interfax news agency reported.
The ministry also said it was preparing to conduct flight tests of a new nuclear-powered cruise missile, the Burevestnik or Storm Petrel.
The first footage of a live launch of the Avangard hypersonic missile, which Moscow says boasts "a glider maneuvering warhead," was also aired along with a clip of the heavy Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.
Putin's boasts about the new weapons have been greeted with skepticism in Washington, where officials have cast doubt on whether Russia has added any new capabilities to its nuclear arsenal beyond those already known to the US military and intelligence agencies.
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