Russians and Americans can get along, President Obama cogently explained at the graduation ceremony for students at the New Economic School in Moscow: "The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game."
His words are meant to reassure Russians that their progress is being applauded, even encouraged, by people in the United States and that their success is also our gain. Cordial relations between Obama and Dimitri Medvedev -- and with Putin, too -- of course, are a welcome development. So is the new agreement to reduce the nuclear arsenal of both countries (at least in theory; Joshua Pollack looks in detail at Medvedev and Obama's joint statement on missile defense issues, showing some potential problems in the statement itself as well as in the overall agreement).
There are other issues, too, such as the fact that Russia, which harbors the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, may not be the best caretaker. Some of Russia’s nuclear weapons, for example, are stored in substandard facilities that are messy, chaotic and are in some cases manned by “poorly trained, sometimes suicidal guards,” according to a 2008 report, “Securing the Bomb,” which was commissioned by the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
It’s great that Obama is visiting Moscow and trying to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world, but it might also be worth trying to figure out a better way to secure the ones that are laying around.
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