Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A memo to Vlad and George

George W. Bush, President of the United States of America
Vladamir Putin, President of the Russian Federation

From: The Robot Economist

Subject: Missile defense and arms control -- a grand bargain

It is clear that the United States and the Russian Federation are at an impasse over two issues related to the proliferation of missile technology and nuclear weapons. The first conflict is over the United States' plan to implement a missile defense system, some of which will be based in Europe. The second conflict is over the future of the U.S.-Russian arms control regime that evolved during the Cold War.

This impasse can be easily broken with a grand bargain designed to satisfy each nation's concerns and put U.S.-Russian cooperation on a strong, institutionalized footing. As part of the the bargain, the United States would agree to build both its planned interceptors and radar station within Russian territory. The Russian Federation will participate in managing the system's day-to-day operations, but will also allow the U.S. to protect sensitive technology in a U.S.-only facility on Russian soil. The Russians will also be given access to missile defense technology as part of a U.S.-Russian missile defense development program, but it will only be allowed to sell the resulting technology as part of U.S.-Russian joint ventures. The United States will reserve the right to expand its missile defense system outside of Europe.

The United States will agree to at least a 15-year extension of both the Strategic Ordnance Reduction Treaty (SORT) and the inspection provisions of the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). In exchange, the Russian Federation will drop its threats to abandon the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty and defer discussions of additional arms control agreements for at least 10 years.

This bargain delivers what each country desires most. The United States is allowed to have a missile defense system that can shoot down missiles coming from the Near East without threaten Russia. Russia gets to keep the Cold War-era arms control regime around for another generation.

It is by no means a solution to U.S.-Russian strategic relations. Instead, it is designed to tackle the one obstacle that prevents such cooperation, a lack of trust on strategic issues stemming from the Cold War. This lack of trust is an antiquated notion because the quest for national power is no longer a zero-sum game. It is both nations to realize that fact and build a relationship that will ensure both American and Russian strategic power for another generation.

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