The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS -

ool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice …”

We’re all fa­mil­iar with that old say­ing. But what do they say about fool me thrice?

That’s ex­actly what Rus­sia has done: vi­o­lat­ing the In­ter­me­di­ateRange Nu­clear Forces (INF) Treaty three times over.

In the late 1980s, the INF Treaty be­tween the U.S. and the USSR elim­i­nated in­ter­me­di­ate-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles from the two su­per­pow­ers’ ar­se­nals. The ban ap­plied to con­ven­tional and nu­clear ground-launched bal­lis­tic mis­siles and cruise mis­siles, as well as their launch­ers.

The idea was to make for a more sta­ble, se­cure Europe. But obli­ga­tions es­tab­lished by treaties don’t al­ways last for­ever.

Rus­sia re­port­edly first vi­o­lated the INF Treaty in 2008, when it tested a mis­sile with a pro­hib­ited range. It is not clear when the U.S. learned of the vi­o­la­tion — whether it was dur­ing the Bush or the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion — but it should have sur­prised no one. Rus­sia has vi­o­lated al­most ev­ery sin­gle arms con­trol agree­ment it has signed.

But the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, at least in its early days, would have had lit­tle in­ter­est in squawk­ing about the vi­o­la­tion. It was busy ne­go­ti­at­ing a New Strate­gic Arms Re­duc­tion Treaty (START) with Moscow. Publi­ciz­ing Rus­sia’s flout­ing of the INF Treaty would hardly make New START rat­i­fi­ca­tion any eas­ier.

The State Depart­ment never of­fi­cially ac­cused Rus­sia of the INF Treaty vi­o­la­tions un­til July 2014, about six years after the ini­tial prob­lem­atic test.

Since then, Moscow has sys­tem­at­i­cally es­ca­lated its vi­o­la­tions, mov­ing from test­ing to pro­duc­ing to now de­ploy­ing the pro­hib­ited mis­sile into the field. The ob­vi­ous goal is to in­tim­i­date our Euro­pean al­lies and demon­strate U.S. po­lit­i­cal weak­ness in the face of these con­tin­u­ing vi­o­la­tions.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s rather measly ob­jec­tions to the Rus­sian vi­o­la­tions failed to make any tan­gi­ble dif­fer­ence in Moscow’s cal­cu­lus. Moscow sim­ply pro­duced its own coun­ter­ac­cu­sa­tions, ar­gu­ing that U.S. mis­sile de­fense sys­tems and armed drones vi­o­late the INF Treaty. (They don’t.)

So the ques­tion re­mains: What

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