Trump Could Push Us Into Arms Negotiations

Article/Op-Ed in the Washington Post
Jan. 22, 2018

Scott Malcomson wrote for the Washington Post about changes in nuclear posture, cyber threats, and geopolitical trends:

When Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced the new National Defense Strategy Friday by stressing that “inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security,” he solidified a theme prominent in other security policies laid out by President Trump’s administration.

The government is putting nuclear strategy and the threats to it — especially cyber threats — at the heart of an emerging “great power” doctrine. Although Washington is currently embracing the idea of a new Cold War with Russia, not least because of Russia’s cyber-enhanced information operations, the great-power turn suggests it might nonetheless be time to talk with Moscow about cyber and nuclear weapons.

True, relations between the United States and Russia are currently bad and getting worse, but arms negotiations often occur at the worst of times. In 1983, Ronald Reagan kicked off a new and productive era of arms talks by portraying Soviet citizens as unholy: “Pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness — pray they will discover the joy of knowing God.” It sounded as odd then as it does now.

Also true, global cyber negotiations in general are not going well. The United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Information Security, which has been deliberating on cyber norms since 2010, collapsed in acrimony last summer. The U.S. representative heatedly concluded that a number of her official counterparts “believe their states are free to act in or through cyberspace to achieve their political ends with no limits or constraints on their actions. That is a dangerous and unsupportable view.”