From the Bear’s Perspective

The Russians regarded the New START agreement as a win-win, said Steven Pifer, director of the Brookings Institution’s arms control initiative. They seized the opportunity to cap the US strategic nuclear force structure—and preserve their own strategic power, he said in his address at AFA’s Air & Space Conference outside Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18. Plus, there is a great deal of Russian national pride associated with the fact that the United States turns to Moscow when it wants to take up nuclear arms control, he added. Pifer said “Moscow is in a holding pattern on missile defense and arms control” right now until after the US Presidential election. While GOP candidate Mitt Romney has made statements more hawkish-sounding on Russia than President Obama, Romney’s approach might change if he moves into the Oval Office, said Pifer. After all, President Reagan pursued arms control negotiations with the Soviets in the 1980s on intermediate nuclear forces as part of a strategy to get NATO to back the deployment of Pershing II batteries in Western Europe, explained Pifer. Arms control was something few observers thought Reagan would take up when he came to the White House, said Pifer.