On Oct. 2, 2018, Kay Bailey Hutchison, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ambassador for the U.S., made a provocative statement: If Russia does not cease its creation of a cruise missile, the U.S. will preemptively shoot the projectile.
According to Julian Borger’s article from The Guardian, Hutchison believed that Russia was violating the “1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).” In its entirety under state.gov, the INF treaty was an agreement signed by Soviet Russia and the U.S. in an act to limit reductions to “imtermediate-range and shorter range missiles,” as well as their launchers. Theoretically, intermediate-range missiles and shorter range missiles can travel from “500 to 5,500 kilometers” according to a fact sheet post from armscontrol.org. This information means a missile could hit a target the size of Alaska or even an adjacent country depending on the scope and projection.
Thirty years after the initial signing of the treaty, Hutchison, according to Borger’s article, is concerned about a cruise missile named 9M729, which she implied could travel to an even further range. According to Tom O’Conner from Newsweek, there is no information on the 9M729 missile at the moment, but it is “believed to use the same launcher as the Iskander missile system.” Within this article, it was described that Russia “increasingly deployed” the missile system around their border.
According to one West Chester University student who preferred to remain anonymous, the comment of Hutchinson might not have “any impact” on America’s foreign policy. The irony of Hutchison sending her threat during the month of October is that in recent memory, the U.S. had to make sense of a nuclear-missile-armed Cuba in October 1962. The result of this debacle was the creation of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963 and the official hotline to the Soviet Union. Despite the close encounter, throughout Cold War history, the U.S. and the Soviet Union misinterpreted one another— which caused the continual rise of nuclear stockpiling. At that time, MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) was the one strategy that caused each side to be at a stalemate.
To a certain extent, the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union ended due to the emergence of communications, which was facilitated by former President Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. In the 21st century, the idea of a Space Force by President Trump and the sudden rise in miscommunication are reigniting old wounds of allies and foes alike. According to a Time Magazine article by W. J. Hennigan from Feb. 12, 2018, the Trump administration believed the only way to stop the emergence of nuclear missile usage is “to expand and advertise its ability to annihilate its enemies.” This article arrived after the known fact that the U.S. and North Korea were firing rhetoric which might cause a nuclear confrontation.
Under surprise pretenses, the nuclear confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea subsided due to a negotiable summit between Kim Jong Un and Trump on June 29, 2018. Despite Trump’s achievement, Hutchison’s threat leaves America in a questioning state of affairs.
To conclude, whether Hutchison’s threat will cause urgent response by Russia or not, only time can tell the effect it will bring. One anonymous student stated there is “no point in worrying. Either it happens or it does not.”
Nicholas Bartelmo is a third-year student majoring in history. NB790429@wcupa.edu.