Jeffrey LewisReciprocal Unilateral Measures

“Reciprocal unilateral measures” is not my favorite phrase, despite my rather considerable affection for some of the people who have made use of it.  There is nothing wrong with the concept, mind you, but RUMs?  Ugh.

The term is back in our discourse, thanks to the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), which has prepared an an otherwise sensible draft report on Options for Implementing Additional Nuclear Force Reductions.

My complaint with RUMs is equal parts pedantic, political and substantive.  SInce this is just a draft report, consider this an open letter to the ISAB to drop a term that mars an otherwise elegant idea.

First, the pedantry.  Here are some definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary

[Reciprocal] Of the nature of, or relating to, a return (in kind); made, given, etc., in response; answering, corresponding.

[Unilateral] Law. Made or entered upon by one party, esp. without reciprocal obligation on the part of another or others; binding or imposed upon one party only.

The definition of unilateral is “without reciprocal obligation” — at best, “reciprocal unilateral” is nonsense.  It has no meaning and, at worst, obscures what the ISAB is really proposing.

Second, the politics of “reciprocal unilateral measures” are terrible. The President’s political opponents believe that “unilateral disarmament” is a useful talking point.  Of course, these same people are above simply making up quotes and attributing them to President.  But I see no reason to make their job easier, especially when …

… Third, the ISAB is not proposing unilateral measures. What the ISAB is recommending is reciprocal reductions without a formal agreement.  We make international commitments all the time outside of formal treaties.

The obvious historical precedent, and the one that the ISAB references, is the series of Presidential Nuclear Initiatives begun by George H.W. Bush in the wake of the August 1991 coup against Mikhail Gorbachev and reciprocated by Gorby and Boris Yeltsin.  Note that Bush had the good sense to call it a Presidential, not unilateral, Nuclear Initiative.  That is a nice bit of branding, evoking more Churchill than Chamberlain. It is important to recall why the Bush Administration opted for moving forward on reductions without a treaty.  After the failed coup, Bush wanted to act fast to secure reciprocal commitments from the Soviet Union — while Gorby was still around to make reciprocal commitments.  Speed was of the essence!

Although the August 1991 coup against Gorbachev was an extreme event, there are other, less dire cases in which a President may still wish to act without waiting for a formal arms control treaty. When the Russian Duma began dragging its feet on ratifying the START II treaty, a number of my colleagues in the arms control community proposed a series of “parallel, reciprocal, and verifiable steps” hoping to resolve the impasse. Whatever one thinks of the merits of the Jump START proposal, doing nothing doomed START II.

The ISAB report makes an elegant argument that the impending development of a new heavy Russian ICBM is an issue that is too urgent to await the outcome of whatever comes after New START:

Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal is expected to dive beneath New START’s ceilings of 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles and 1,550 operationally deployed strategic warheads as its nuclear forces reach the end of their service lives – dropping to an estimated 400 delivery vehicles and 1,100 accountable warheads by 2020.12 To build back up to treaty limits, Russia is considering developing a new heavy ICBM in its nuclear modernization plans. In contrast, the United States is expected to proceed slowly down to treaty limits, downloading warheads from ICBMs and SLBMs and reducing the launchers while modernizing its strategic forces.


The United States could communicate to Russia that the United States is prepared to go to lower levels of nuclear weapons as a matter of national policy, consistent with the strategy developed in the Nuclear Posture Review, if Russia is willing to reciprocate. This could improve stability by reducing Russia’s incentive to build a new heavy ICBM.

I was really struck by this argument.  I wonder, however, if the description is too elliptical for some readers. Allow me to explain a bit.

Russia has announced a new heavy ICBM that is to be liquid fueled and will carry as many as 10 warheads.  Ten  warheads in a silo is a pretty juicy target.  If the Russians don’t use this weapon first, they won’t be using it at all.  Now, I do not think Moscow intends the new heavy ICBM as part of some strategy to fight and win a nuclear war, but I do worry about the adverse incentives they are creating for themselves.

Why Russia thinks the solution to its strategic rot is a new, vulnerable ICBM armed with a disproportionate share of the country’s nuclear weapons is beyond me.  There are probably many reasons Russia is building a new ICBM, most of which have to do with bureaucratic and political concerns.  But Alexei Arbatov observes that the overt justification for the new heavy ICBM is that otherwise Moscow will struggle to maintain New START levels as the last generation of Soviet-era strategic systems begin to age out. We would do well to do something about this argument.

This brings us to reciprocal commitments outside a formal arms control agreement.  The Russian government is in the process of awarding contracts for the new heavy ICBM, contracts that will create momentum behind the new missile.

If we wait for the formal arms control process, we may wait several years — by which time, Russia will be deploying the missile in earnest.  Russian leaders will be loathe to negotiate away missiles that have just been built, so we’ll be stuck at current force levels indefinitely, just with a much less stable force structure.

So, no time like the present!  A commitment to further reduce the number of US deployed nuclear weapons would certainly be worth making if it was likely to induce a reciprocal commitment by Russia to forgo a new heavy ICBM. This is a very good idea, one that deserves a better name RUM.

Late Update | 10:36 am PST 29 August 2012 A colleague at the State Department asked me to remove the link to the draft report. I complied because they provided the reports to me when I asked with no hassle and then asked nicely about removing the link. That said, the report is still available from Inside Defense. I am also happy to provide copies on request.


  1. kme (History)

    To be effective I think this would also have to include a commitment to codifying the lower levels through the formal arms control process – otherwise the Russians would worry that the informal agreements will evaporate shortly after their old systems are retired.

    • kme (History)

      My suggestion to replace RUM is INFRA – INFormal Reciprocal Agreement.

  2. HLC (History)

    How might such a commitment (outside of formal negotiations) go down with the US electorate months before an election?

  3. anon (History)

    Back in the day (i.e. 1991, when the PNIs were announced), I don’t think anyone called them the PNIs. I don’t think there was a name for them at all. And they were not necessarily going to be reciprocal. Bush announced a series of steps he was willing to take, with or without the Soviet Union (read the 9/27/91 speech, he made this clear). He didn’t even consult with Gorbachev (or the U.S. allies) before he made the announcement The fact that Gorbachev reciprocated was a bonus, not part of the plan. The steps were designed to be unilateral, plain and simple, and within the President’s authority as the Commander in Chief. He sets U.S. force structure and U.S. force posture based on U.S. security needs, and that’s what he was doing here.

    After the fact, in the months that followed, some of us who were writing about this, referred to the exchange of steps as “unilateral, reciprocal” measures (Check ACT from that era; Dunbar Lockwood did an awesome job of tracking these steps). I don’t think the term “Presidential Nuclear Initiatives” entered the lexicon for a couple of years, at least, I didn’t hear it for the first time until 1993….

    • Jeffrey (History)

      I find my memory of such things is terrible and getting worse! I now have to double-check lexis-nexis for all issues of etymology. Middle age stinks!

      The Bush White House referred to it the “President’s nuclear initiative” in press briefings and official releases. Marlin Fitzwater, Reggie Bartholomew, Margaret Tutwiler, Richard Boucher, Dick Cheney, and Pete Williams all referred to the “President’s nuclear initiative” in the first few weeks after the announcement. (Not all of the references are online, but I might have some time to post them later.) The contemporary press reporting reflects the usage of President’s nuclear initiative. So, for example, the San Francisco Chronicle editorial page wrote on 6 October that “The president’s nuclear initiative will serve as a high-wire platform for both sides in that mighty tug-of-war.” There are a few examples online, including this one.

      The notion of reciprocal unilateral measures predates the announcement. The earliest use I can find was a Stanford Workshop in 1990 — see footnote 1.

      It is possible that you didn’t take notice until the “President’s nuclear initiative” achieved the status of an acronym — Presidential Nuclear Initiatives or PNIs — which seems to have happened much later. I bet your 1993 guess is about right, maybe even a little on the early side. (You were probably aware of it before it was recorded in print.)

      But the original framing belong’s to the Bush White House and was, I think, quite clever. A unilateral act is cast as “Presidential” (The proto-Decider!) and a reduction is cast as an “initiative” as in, “seize the initiative.”

    • anon (History)

      I don’t mean to split hairs, but there is a difference (as you know) between the President’s nuclear initiatives (i.e. denoting nuclear initiatives proposed and “owned” by the President) and Presidential Nuclear Intitiatives (and the acronym PNIs).

      So, I’ll repeat my point. No one called them “The PNIs” until 1993, and they were not intended or required to be reciprocal.

      My main point, in recounting the history of the PNIs, is to point out that, back in the day, no one blinked twice when the President, as Commander-in-Chief, ordered changes in the U.S. nuclear posture that responded to changes in the international security environment. Can you imagine such a blatant, bold move now??? Even when George W. called for unilateral reductions after the 2001 NPR (although he said he’d love to see Russia reciprocate), the Senate objected and wanted it written in a treaty.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Oh, we can split hairs — it’s a comment section! That’s what its for. At any rate, I enjoy arguing with clever people. It is partly how I think through things.

      My view has been that the evolution of “President’s nuclear initiative” to “Presidential Nuclear Initiatives” simply reflected the statements issued by Gorbachev and then Yeltsin. (It could no longer be possessive and singular once there were statements by three different Presidents.) I don’t find any “important” difference between the two in the sense that both variants use three words chosen by the Bush White House to frame the discussion to appeal to conservatives in a way that “reciprocal unilateral measures” would not. Perhaps they did so unconsciously, being, well, conservatives.

      Your main point, though, I agree with totally. One very liberal colleague just called me and said, upon rereading the Bush speech, maybe it was a mistake to vote for Clinton. I am not sure I would go that far, but it was one hell of speech. I cannot imagine such a blatant, bold move today.

  4. Jon (History)

    Well, another fine example of government grammar at its best! I don’t think mutual unilateral reductions are the next best step in lowering our arsenals. I think it is better to have a formal treaty for the next round of reductions, especially if non-strategic weapons and total warheads are included in the numbers. Verification and data exchange are important tenets in any future negotations on reducing warheads. In fact, as we go to lower numbers even stronger verification means are necessary. That being said, I am not opposed to US unilateral reductions. If we were to deploy 300 Minuteman III, would this give Russia the incentive to forgo the SS-18 replacement? Probably not, because a new heavy liquid-fueled icbm is the best option for Russia to keep its warhead numbers as high as possible even though it would be a sitting duck against a first strike. Would an amendment to New START accomplish the above? I am only able to guess. I think a good direction to head would be 500 total icbms and slbms, 1,000 deployed warheads, 50 total nuclear capable bombers, and a total stockpile of 3,500 strategic and non-strategic warheads. There would be no categories of deployed and non-deployed delivery vehicles. And there would be no reserve stockpile exempt from the 3,500 total.

  5. krepon (History)

    One of the original takes on this was Carles Osgood’s writing about GRIT: graduated reciprocal initiatives in tension reduction.

    • krepon (History)

      oops: Charles Osgood

  6. Kingston (History)

    Cartwright and Pickering suggested something similar in their testimony to the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee in July (

    “We wish to emphasize that the commission does not call for unilateral cuts by the United States. Our view is that the only valid and useful approach should be to negotiate an agreement with the Russians. However, there may well be other ways to advance the goal of further reductions. Some unilateral steps, or parallel reciprocal steps along the lines of the 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, could facilitate the effort. For instance, Russia has already dropped below its allowed ceiling of 1,550 deployed strategic forces stipulated by the New START agreement. It may behoove the United States to follow in Russia’s footsteps and take advantage of Russia’s unilateral reductions to reduce U.S. forces below the allowed level as an approach designed to remove the incentive for Russia to build its forces back up and take advantage of the benefits, set out further in this presentation, of additional reductions.”

    Senator Feinstein was sufficiently intrigued by this line of argument that she asked a follow-up question on it:

    “As both General Cartwright and Ambassador Pickering have pointed out, Russia is already below the New Start limits on deployed strategic delivery vehicles and warheads, and this is because they’re retiring their older systems faster than it’s adding new systems. However, it’s my understanding that Russia is considering the development of a new intercontinental ballistic missile that can carry up to 10 warheads. So here’s the question: Could reciprocal reductions or a new bilateral arms control agreement dissuade Russia from moving forward with its destabilizing nuclear modernization programs, such as a new ICBM?”

    And here’s an excerpt of Cartwright’s response:

    “I’m not sure that it’s a question of dissuading them, although that may be one of the attributes of the discussion. It’s probably a question of giving them the opportunity for an alternative approach, and that’s what Ambassador Pickering was trying to, I think, illustrate, is that if we were to follow suit now, which would require no treaty change but move from where we are, instead of taking seven years to get down to 1,550, to move more quickly to match the Russians and have that dialogue with them, which requires no real change in any treaties, the demonstration of where we’re heading would be confirmed for them. And that may alter their calculus about how much they want to spend and how much they want to build and how much they need to modernize.”

    • Jon (History)

      How about a simple amendment to New START to change deployed delivery vehicles to 550 and deployed warheads to 1,000 and everything else remains the same?

    • Kingston (History)

      Jon- That might be a useful interim step on the way to a more comprehensive yet complicated agreement that captures non-strategic and non-deployed weapons. However to my knowledge the US Senate would have to approve such an amendment on a 2/3 vote (correct me if I’m wrong), a dicey proposition to say the least. Meanwhile Russia will be well on its way (perhaps irreversibly) to developing a new heavy. Hence the proposals to follow Russia down outside the auspices of a formal agreement. The two sides could attempt to use or adapt the New START verification measures for such a step, though how this would actually operate would obviously need to be fleshed out and whether the Russians would go for it (recall their strong preference for legally-binding!) remains to be seen. And if in command of a majority in both the Senate and House, I suppose Republican opponents of arms control in Congress could attempt to deny funding for such reductions – as House Republicans have already attempted to do re: New START. But in my view both an amendment or something less formal are steps worth exploring.

    • krepon (History)

      Cuts in forces and stockpile size must be approved by Congressional action — authorization and appropriation bills, or by means of Treaty, a much higher bar.
      If Republicans refuse cuts by means of funding bills, this could lead to a round of hostage taking, with Democrats taking aim at Lab appropriations in retaliation for Republican refusals to cut the defecit in this way.

  7. Rob Goldston (History)

    Can someone explain how and/or why we have continued to fail to outlaw MIRV’ed missiles in our treaties, from Kissinger’s signature failure with SALT-I to START-II to the present.

    • Jon (History)

      Probably because it is less expensive to upload more warheads on fewer delivery vehicles, which benefits both Russia and the US.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      We had a ban on MIRVs with START II, but managed to f it up.

    • Rob Goldston (History)

      Yeah, I was thinking about the less $$/Warhead Delivered argument. But can both our systems be that stupid? And if so, why? Or is there something not completely obvious about this, such as better odds of getting thru defenses?

  8. John Bragg (History)

    Essentially, the Russians prize being able to load many warheads on one missile.

    Why? Because warheads are cheap, missiles are expensive.
    And warhead numbers are the main barometer of “strategic parity” for Russia and the United States.

    I could be wrong, but I think that a President who had the nerve could order unilateral reductions–pull warheads of Minutemen, further download Trident missiles, move most B-2s to exclusively non-nuclear missions–but I think the Russians would still be reluctant to take the bait.

    One reason is that many Russians have argued that the US “hedge” stockpile is a big advantage, allowing US to upload on short notice, a capability they don’t have.

    Another reason is that developing a “new” “heavy” ICBM is a prestige project for the Russians. They can’t seem to put a new SSBN in the water, or develop an SLBM, or maintain order in the Caucasus, but they can still design a son-of-SS-18, and if the Americans don’t like it, well that means they must be really afraid of it.

    (Ok, apparently the first Borey has finally gone to sea. but still.)

    • JohnLopresti (History)

      There is a historical sense in which the nation concept of Russia…РОССИЯ…involves distance from other places; kind of like being in Oklahoma or Kansas, but farther. So, I see that sort of folkloric nationhood sensibility as being one element in the concept of the new heavy ICBM.

      There looks like lots of room elsewhere for reductions, though.

  9. MKS (History)

    Oh I remember the days when New START itself, and not a follow-on treaty or a RUM, was supposed to “drive the Russians toward a more stabilizing strategic posture that does not depend heavily on MIRV’ed ICBM.”

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Good one.

      As I said at the time, Russia was moving toward “MIRVing the hell out of its strategic forces to keep its warhead numbers up around 1700.”

      New START is modestly helpful in that the Russians will now MIRV the hell out of their strategic forces to keep their warhead numbers up around 1550. 1300 would have been better. A thousand? Dare to dream.

      Obviously, the real problem, as I noted, was that we lost the MIRV ban with START II:

      Obviously, I’d like to get back to that MIRV ban. (MIRVs and the Moscow Treaty, December 12, 2004). But that’s not going to happen (STRATCOM Hearts MIRV, January 30, 2006, STRATCOM Still Hearts MIRVs, November 29, 2007).

      In the interim the best we can do is try to make sure the New START agreement strikes a better balance between the number of operationally deployed warheads and the number of strategic delivery vehicles than what we are likely to have absent an agreement, while preserving the essential monitoring and verification provisions.

      New START was a modest, interim step that was better than the alternative. Isn’t that faint enough praise for you?

      PS: Feel free to be a dick, but don’t do it from your work account. It tempts me to be indiscreet.

    • Appalled (History)

      I have long enjoyed reading your blog. But your initial response to MKS was petty and unhinged. No one, certainly on the Left, doubts your intelligence. It’s always been your personal judgment.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Oh, go fuck yourself. How’s that for petty and unhinged?

  10. MKS (History)

    Pointing out that it appears to be the case that we will always get to the difficult issues in the next iteration of negotiating arms control agreements with Russia, and then being called a “dick” for it and threatened with retaliation (“to be indiscreet”). This is probably why our Framers cherished anonymous political speech, so that the discussion of ideas would be fuller and the substance of those ideas would rise and fall on their own merit.

    It’s your forum, and it appears you would rather shut down opposing views so they are not heard at all rather than engage them in the persuasive way you are able. That will be my loss I suppose.

    It’s been fun reading you, I’ve learned a lot.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      I am sorry. I was teasing you and did not intend to threaten you. But that’s what I did. Please accept my apology, along with my assurance that I would never do that. Never. Even if you crossed some imaginary line, which you did not.

      As for your comment, it was a sarcastic one-liner. Make a structured argument and I will respond to it. Politely.

  11. MKS (History)

    Rather than re-litigating the merits of New START, it is probably more intriguing to review the substance of the original post – – the possibility of doing arms reductions in tandem with Russia outside of a formal international agreement. Why is the arms control community intrigued by this idea? Although the substantive reason of preempting a Russian move to a heavy ICBM is noteworthy, maybe I am being uncharitable when I think it is because they don’t want to deal with what they perceive to be an obstreperous Senate. The ISAB essentially admits as much when it complains of a “difficult ratification process” for arms control treaties, probably an allusion to New START.

    Not only is this not the political system we have, such a course of action would be ironic if it were to come from this Administration. When our Constitutional structure does not deliver desired outcomes, the answer is not to reject that system in toto.

    Indeed, one of the main national security precepts of the 2008 Obama campaign was that it would not over-reach with executive power and ignore Congress as it accused the Bush Administration of doing. Specifically on this arms control point, when the Bush Administration proposed to make its reductions in 2001, regardless of what Russia did, Senator Biden insisted upon an agreement with Russia to this end in treaty form. Hence the Moscow Treaty. Now it appears preparations are underway to move forward with arms reductions with Russia in a way that completely ignores the Senate.

    To be sure, “We make international commitments all the time outside of formal treaties,” as the post says, but not usually with respect to arms control. The PNIs are the exception, not the rule. The considerable weight of authority is that arms control commitments are done by treaty, especially an agreement to reduce our nuclear weapons in tandem with our peer nuclear competitor or otherwise constrain our nuclear weapons choices. For every PNI example there is, I suspect there is at least five treaty examples.

    There may very well be other substantive reasons to complete such an initiative with Russia quickly, as you articulate (preempting Russia from moving to a heavy ICBM). That may be meritorious in its own right, but again, that is not the political system we have. The ISAB counsels for basically ignoring the Senate in the name of “expediency.” As the Supreme Court observed in INS v. Chadha, “it is crystal clear from the records of the convention, contemporaneous writings and debates, that the Framers ranked other values higher than efficiency.”

    Our Framers demanded the Senate be involved in the ratification of treaties. Past practice almost uniformly counsels for initiatives in the nuclear realm done in tandem with a peer competitor be done by treaty. Advocating the rejection of that process because it is considered too cumbersome or annoying is a disservice to our Constitutional system.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      There is no legal requirement to submit arms control agreements as treaties instead of Congressional-Executive Agreements. See: 22 USC § 2573. Congress expressly provided for the possibility of arms reductions treaties “pursuant to the treaty-making power of the President set forth in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution or … by the enactment of further affirmative legislation by the Congress of the United States.”

      Although most arms control agreements have been submitted as “treaties” in the narrow sense (the 5:1 ratio is about right), the Nixon Administration submitted the first bilateral arms limitation agreement, SALT I, as a Congressional-Executive Agreement under the latter option.

      So, we are left with a question of preference; there is no obligation to submit arms control measures as “treaties” in the narrow sense. Some conservatives may be persuaded by appeals to the aesthetic intent of the Framers, but I am not.

      In any event, we are not discussing a formal agreement. The PNIs were neither a “Treaty” in the narrow sense nor a Congressional-Executive Agreement. We are discussing an instance where the President announces his intent to reduce the number of nuclear weapons over a period of time, a step that is certainly within his authority as commander-in-chief, on the condition that no adverse international developments change his mind — such as the deployment of a new heavy ICBM by Russia. It is not clear how this would run afoul of the constitution. Nor can I see how diplomats would be prohibited from either discussing with the Russians their likely response to such an announcement in advance or from explaining to the Russians afterward the likely outcome if they nonetheless proceed with the deployment of a new heavy ICBM.

      Indeed, this case is roughly analogous to the ill-fated Leap Day Deal with North Korea in which the two sides negotiated, before issuing parallel statements. Although that agreement illustrates the practical downside to choosing what I call “parallel measures” over a negotiated agreement, no one objected on constitutional grounds.

      We can discuss whether it is a good idea, but I can’t see how it is prohibited or even particularly threatening to our democratic processes.

    • Anon (History)

      Jeffrey’s reference to the 1972 Interim Agreement on Offensive Arms is correct in that it shows that all arms control agreements need not be treaties. Taken a step farther, all international agreements between the U.S. goverment and other governments, need not be treaties. We have executive agreements that require congressional approval, Memorandum of Understandings, like those that govern the CTR program, that require no Congressional action, and things like the 123 Agreements that do not require affirmative congressional action but can be stopped with a negative vote.

      You may argue that we should not use these other forms for something so serious as nuclear arms reduction, but that’s simply not a supportable point if you look at history. You claim the PNIs were an anomoly because they were an agreement without a treaty. But they were not an agreement at all. They were unilateral steps taken by the U.S. President to adjust the U.S. nuclear posture in reaction to changes in the international security environment (and this included more than just the coup in Moscow, which kicked off the whole process. Removing nukes from surface ships responded to a problem we were having with allies who didn’t want nuclear weapons in their ports.) Gorbachev’s response in kind was neither expected nor required for Bush to pursue these changes. In other words, they were unilateral to begin with, and became reciprocal later.

      So, although the PNIs may look like an unusual way to do arms control, they were not considered arms control by those who devised them. They were considered part of the President’s job, as Commander-in-Chief, to size and structure the U.S. nuclear force. There were neither the first, nor the last time the President has taken such steps. President Reagan removed thousands of nuclear weapons from Europe. without any Congressional approval or Soviet reciprocity, under the NATO Montebello decision. And President George W. Bush removed hundreds of nuclear weapons from Europe during his Administration, again without Congressional approval or Russian reciprocity.

      Now, on the issue of going unilateral to avoid the Senate. That certainly is not a response to New START, as New START was not the first time Senate has given the President trouble with a treaty. Versailles, SALT II, CTBT, and CWC before the 1996 elections all come to mind. Only Versailles and CTBT were straight rejections, but the reason there are not more cases of treaty rejection is because its rare for an Admin to bring a treaty up if it knows its going to be rejected. If you look through the literature, you’ll find articles about the benefits of arms control agreements without treaties going back decades.

      And there are a lot of reasons to go unilateral, even if the Senate is not a consideration. You could do it because time is of the essence, or because it would be too difficult to craft and implement an effective verification regime, or because the changes make sense whether or not the other guy bites (all these played in the 1991 decision), or because you want to make a grand gesture as part of a modernization plan (this played in the Montebello decision). Or you may choose to go unilateral because you want the flexibility to reverse your decision if conditions change (true for both the PNIs and the George W. proposal to go to 2,200 warheads unilaterally).

      If you think this is all about a Democratic President trying to avoid the Senate, your historical frame of reference is too short. Its almost always Republican Presidents who go unilataral (Kennedy was the exception here, he pulled Jupiters out of Turkey as a part of resolution to the Cuban Missile Crises.)

      So, even though our framers demanded that the Senate consent to Treaties, the framers did not demand that the President include all his force structure decisions in a treaty, and then submit them to the Senate (or even the HASC) for approval.

  12. JohnLopresti (History)

    Mr. A. Arbatov’s document from 1999, linked, contained two passages of primary relevancy, perhaps, in my view.

    pp.21-22. Reduction formulas and attribution of risk to the X-37 platform need to include more than only US, Russia, Nato; clearly China is part of the mix, although more remotely than the others for purposes of a Russia-US/Nato mutual process of reductions. And the ‘rogue’ problems could figure into that formulary.

    pp.16-17 The other Arbatov discussion I found curious was one which has a basis in radiation technology. I wonder if it remains true that there is no way to define that a warhead in-flight is radioactive. I suppose a ‘heavy’ icbm could loft lots of lead shielding… I have seen other ACW threads about MIRVs reviewing radars and such, but am not certain the 1999 depictions from Arbatov in the Gambit or Endgame study remain viable, although they appear to be germane to the ongoing discussions of reductions possible now and in the near future.

    As for the RUM, I agree with the comments about that acronym’s being a structural tautology. However, the Russian word for rum is рон. There may be some multinational appreciative way of acronymizing рон, although so far all I am seeing is unpromising words like reduction, сокращение. Рон seems so much more lively. Fyi, from the word’s appearances, рон is a transliteration of ron, a Spanish term.

  13. JohnLopresti (History)

    re MKS’ mention of INS v Chadha 462 US 919 (1983)

    There is a long literature about that case and its implementations in the unitary executive and presidential signing statement fracases of the 2001-2008 timeframe; e.g. consider one commentary by prof. M. Tushnet with respect to Chadha’s applicability to the Federal Register as employed by the executive branch

    A perhaps more colorful discussion of Chadha is found under the topic “legislative veto” in a paper by a presidency legal writer there:

    The literature on Chadha is complex, and has been prolific in the past twelve years, and beyond.