Did you know that we had hundreds of tactical nuclear weapons stashed away in Europe in case the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ever decides to attack? No? Neither did I.
Read Daniel Larison’s whole article, excerpted below, on the shameful failure of the United States to lead the way in nuclear disarmament. If an individual reacted this way to a threat from a deceased enemy he would be considered clinically insane. Or, as we say in American English, a Republican.
Any U.S.-Russian arms control agreement brings new opportunities to denuclearize the European continent. The strongest advocates of this idea are the European “non-nuclear weapon states” who are hosting U.S. warheads under a NATO flag. These countries — Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Turkey — together host an estimated total of 150 to 220 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. In 2006, the Belgian Senate passed a bill to remove U.S. weapons from Kleine Brogel Air Force Base. Last year, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle singled out the issue of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Germany during his first visits to NATO and the United States. Parliamentarians of all host countries have urged Obama to withdraw U.S. warheads from Europe, and foreign ministers have written to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen asking for the issue to be placed higher on the alliance’s agenda. These European “abolitionists” fear that, without New START, Russia will be more reluctant to negotiate further arms limitations, giving fewer reasons for Washington to remove its weapons from Europe.
The news that U.S. tactical nuclear weapons will remain in Europe means that relations these governments are about to become more difficult. The leaked document ahead of the Lisbon summit means that the Europeans that had hoped New START would lead to the withdrawal of these weapons would have been disappointed no matter what happened in the Senate here. The failure of New START will ensure that there will be no discussion of tactical nuclear weapons with the Russians, who will have no reason to negotiate new arms reduction agreements if the U.S. cannot ratify this agreement. U.S.-Russian relations are going to take a hit because of Republican opposition to the arms reduction treaty, and our relations with Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Turkey are also going to suffer.