ICYMI: The Way Forward for the U.S. in a Post-INF World

Rebecca Hersman joins panel discussion at Heritage Foundation to discuss a post-INF world. Read her full opening remarks and view the panel here.

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The Way Forward for the U.S. in a Post-INF World

Heritage Panel – Opening Remarks (edited)

January 23, 2019

Rebecca Hersman


Rebecca Hersman at Heritage Foundation

See the full panel discussion at Heritage.

We are examining a post-INF world, because Russia chose not to comply with the treaty. As a believer in treaties, international laws, and the international rules-based system – rules have to mean something. This is the baseline for what’s most important:

  1. We need to set a goal to prevent destabilizing arms racing while reinforcing effective deterrence.
  2. We need to preserve and protect, and hopefully expand arms control arrangements that support strategic stability, promote deterrence, and do so at lower cost and lower risk.
  3. We need to promote and sustain alliances. And the cohesion of those alliances both in Europe and in Asia.
  4. We need to rebuild a domestic and international coalition that supports nuclear modernization, effective deterrence, and arms control.

Let me preface by saying, I do not see the principle solution or the principle problem in achieving these goals as being a capability gap problem. I do not believe we can buy to solve this problem. However, there are some near term steps that we could take to sustain the principle that rules matter, the rules base system matters, and promote our arms control. Here are a few key pillars we should consider for U.S. policy:

  1. We should declare that while in a post-INF world the United States can test and deploy ground base and intermediate range missile systems however, it has no need or intention to do so. We have the principle, but we do not need the capabilities.
  2. We should make clear that the U.S. stands for the principle of compliance. We also believe international agreements should be judged independently on their merits and on that basis that New START should be extended.
  3. We should prioritize modernization of our nuclear triad and the associated command and control structure needs of our nuclear modernization program. This should be based on our core program of record that has spanned two administrations from wildly different perspectives, but managed to agree on core elements. The flexibility, durability, and responsiveness of our triad based nuclear posture provides a considerable hedge in a post-INF world and allows us to be responsive but within existing restraints, to deal with any potential problems Russia or any other adversary could send our way.
  4. And finally, should we believe any capability enhancements are necessary in Europe, whether in the form of some additional ground base offensive systems. Or for that matter most types of defensive or missile defense systems. The deployment of those capabilities should be done only in a NATO alliance context. Not through bilateral arrangements, picking off elements of the alliance. But only with the full agreement of every single NATO member, developed in advance.

If we do these things, I think we actually reinforce most important aspect of our credible deterrent which is our alliance cohesion. Which is the idea that we can work with our alliances, support that cohesion, and we can build the political – both domestic and international community – that’s necessary to be firm in the face and to handle the competitive environment Russia, and many ways China as well is putting our way. That consensus and unity both at home and abroad is absolutely essential to our deterrence posture and our ability to manage an increasingly competitive environment.

See the Full Heritage Panel Discussion here.


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