Created 01/13/2023 at 2023:08AM
Transcription of Scott Ritter's intervention (video):
That’s what we live in, today. This isn’t some sort of future look into hellish Earth. Death is on a pale horse, riding to us, as we speak! And if you don’t recognize that, if you’re not aware of that, then you’re going to just blissfully go to the abyss, the Armageddon that Helga spoke of. We are on the cusp of thermonuclear war.
I keep hearing people talk about comparing the situation we face today with the Cuban Missile Crisis: Let me tell you something about the Cuban Missile Crisis. (A) I was a baby, so I don’t know anything firsthand. But (B), I used to be good friends with a gentleman named William Pope, who was right there next to Kennedy, when this happened. Do you know how we avoided nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Diplomacy. Old-fashioned diplomacy. Americans talking to Russians, Russians talking to Americans. Politically, we may not have been able to do that, up front, through standard negotiations, but we had back-channels that were approved by the President of the United States and by the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Khrushchev.
But today, we don’t talk. And we have our intelligence heads meeting in Ancre and other places around the world, but this isn’t a negotiation. We are in the midst of, not just a heightening of tensions, but we lack the mechanisms to resolve these tensions. There is no diplomatic interaction worth of the name, between the United States and Russia, today.
I just had lunch with Anatoly Antonov, the ambassador from Russia, and he laments the fact—here’s a man, this is a man, because of what you think of Russia, of him personally, I don’t care! I really don’t! He’s a man that sat down across from American negotiators during the administration of Barack Obama, and negotiated the New START Treaty, the last arms control treaty in existence today, between the United States and Russia. He was the Russian negotiator. So he’s a man who’s accomplished far more than any of the people that currently reside in a State Department bay in any capacity! Not a single one of them has accomplished what Anatoly Antonov has. And yet, he’s the ambassador of Russia to the United States, and he sits in a gilded cage: He’s not allowed to interact, nobody wants to interact with him, nothing is happening! Except this, and this is something he has spoken of, and senior State Department officials have spoken of.
Because, at the time I met him, it was the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty [INF]. That happens to be a treaty that I played an important part in implementing. It was signed in December of 1987, and began implementation on July 1st, 1988.
There was a reunion of sorts of all the old INF hands, and we had somebody from the State Department speak who was off the record, so I can’t identify the individual or the content of their presentation, except to make the following note: There was widespread recognition on the part of everybody there, that the State Department no longer had any say whatsoever—any say, whatsoever—in the nuclear posture of the United States of America. And that, when it comes to nuclear issues, in matters relating to the nuclear enterprise, the Department of Defense reigns supreme. It is responsible for every aspect of the nuclear enterprise to this day, who include any notion of arms control negotiations.
When I brought this up to Ambassador Antonov, he said: Well, sadly, because nothing exists in a vacuum, you can’t expect the Russians to retain a certain expertise in arms control negotiation, if it isn’t exercised. It’s like any muscle: if you don’t exercise it, it atrophies. And the Russian negotiation component has likewise atrophied, and stepping into the vacuum is the Russian Ministry of Defense.
So we have the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals, and the people responsible for coming up with mechanisms to control these arsenals, and to hopefully diminish these arsenals, are the very same people who are responsible for modernizing these arsenals and making these weapons more relevant to their respective national security postures!