In his March 7 op-ed, “Thank Putin for suspending New START,” former national security adviser John R. Bolton correctly identified an urgent problem — traditional arms control faces huge challenges in a tri-polar nuclear world — but got the solution dead wrong.
The United States and the Soviet Union once understood that, in the nuclear age, war between them would destroy both. Following the Cuban missile crisis, they realized they must reach mutual understandings about red lines and limit the dangers of an uncontrolled arms race.
That shared sense of danger and responsibility has been shattered. Many in Washington and Moscow appear to have lost their fear of nuclear war and tossed aside Cold War lessons counseling restraint and risk management.
The combined arsenals of Russia and China pose a formidable threat. But the answer is not to speed recklessly toward a tripartite arms race that would be long on risks and short on rules. We should seek prudently to divide and counterbalance our adversaries rather than ham-fistedly incentivizing their cooperation against us. And we should couple this with creative approaches to arms control adapted for 21st-century technologies and tailored to the emerging multipolar order.
Read the full piece in The Washington Post.