America must not idly stand by as Russia builds nuclear capabilities

America must not idly stand by as Russia builds nuclear capabilities
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE recently declared that the United States would withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty as a response to the violations of the agreement by the Russian government. This treaty was signed in 1987 by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It helped ease Cold War tensions by prohibiting ground launched missiles that travel between 310 miles and 3,420 miles, the conventional type that the United States stationed in Europe in the decades after World War II.

Shortly after the White House announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated that Russia would withdraw from the treaty as well. This past week, Putin reaffirmed his dissatisfaction with the United States decision by announcing during his annual state of the nation address to the Duma that if the United States were to install new intermediate range missiles in Europe, Russia “will be forced to take reciprocal measures.” Given that the Russians had been violating the treaty for more than a decade, I would argue that the decision by Trump to withdraw from it was the right one in the interest of protecting our allies and national security.

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As I have previously outlined in my book “The Russia-China Axis,” Russia over the years has continued to build up its nuclear stockpiles while the United States has slowed down its own development of such weapons systems. The Russians have tactically amassed many ballistic missiles and invested heavily in weapons system modernization, despite the written restrictions of the 1987 treaty, along with their own crippling economy.

The United States has continued to abide by its mutually agreed upon international agreements and has limited production and even destroyed older missiles. To be sure, international agreements such as the 1987 treaty are heavily dependent on all parties upholding their side of the bargain. However, Putin threatening the United States puts not only the postwar order but the peace of the entire Western world in jeopardy.

Despite expansion of missile capabilities in Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, the United States maintains the strongest international military network and strongest relationship with its allies, especially its NATO partners, despite a lack of more clear foreign policy guidance from the past and present administrations. The United States cannot continue to idly stand by as Russia continues to build its nuclear capabilities. The policy of reducing stockpile to encourage others around the world to do the same has not worked. We must respond with force and do so quickly.

By no means am I calling for an armed conflict, but I am calling for the United States to continue to grow its military capabilities and ensure that the stability that has allowed for record global growth and peace is not destabilized. President Obama backed off of plans to construct a missile defense shield in Europe that would have protected American interests in the region and served as a strong deterrence to both Russia and Iran. This was a mistake we must not repeat. It is imperative that the United States keeps exploring its options in Europe to ensure that Russian expansion is stopped and starts to decline, regardless of the latest threats from Putin.

Let me make clear that Russia is a threat. The threat is not new and it is one that we are not prepared for. It is vital that the United States and its allies recognize this and work to contain its aggression. The decision to withdraw from the 1987 treaty was a good start. It will allow our armed forces to legally produce new missile capabilities while proving to our would be adversaries that we will not allow them to take advantage of our desire for peace. Going forward, the United States can only win against Russia if we are assertive about our American goals and advance clear foreign policy guidance that can never be bent by threats from Putin.

Douglas E. Schoen served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of several books, including “The Russia-China Axis: The New Cold War and America’s Crisis of Leadership.” Follow him on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.