U.S.-Russian Nuke Deal? Okay, I Guess

I remember reading something somewhere a long time ago about the tendency of political and military leaders to want to fight the last war.  I can’t help but wonder if that is what is happening these days with American President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.  They have negotiated a reduction in their nuclear arsenals, thus presumably making another significant step towards world peace.  Not only would it make the world safer to have fewer nuclear weapons lying around, but it also reduces the degree of a rather awkward hypocrisy.  We tell other nations not to have nuclear weapons, but we jealously guard our own.  Does that seem fair?

And yet…

The current situation of a handful of nations having nuclear weapons has not resulted in nuclear war for the last 60-odd years.  If other countries acquire that capability, who knows what might happen?  And while it is nice that we and the Russians have reached this agreement, where is the value in it?  Have we really been that worried about a war with the Russians at any point in the last 20 years?  The nuclear threats presented by Iran and North Korea seem more pressing.

Perhaps, though, the best time to make a deal with the Russians is precisely when tensions are low.  A deal now might help us avoid trouble with them down the road.  Still, one hopes for two things in all of this.  One is that our focus on this treaty doesn’t distract us from more immediate threats.  The other is that all of these gestures towards peace don’t embolden nations that would now consider us as weak or lacking in resolve.