I had a little to do with the original proposal by US to convene strategic stability talks with Russia back in 2016 so have a few thoughts. 1/n
The original proposal from the US to Russia came in 2016 after being approved by President Obama and his national security team. The motive was straight forward - the risk of a misunderstanding or conflict escalating to the use of nuclear weapons was unacceptably high. 2/n
The immediate need was to reopen a direct, high level and sustained channel for communicating goals, objective and intentions to each other. Not to prove one side right or wrong, but to avoid a clash or escalation neither side wanted. 3/n
Each side could bring up what they wanted, and both sides would be asked to engage in good faith. A lack of real engagement by either side was a sign of its own, but any real effort to address and solve problems was useful. 4/n
That the United States was pursuing ways to avoid conflict and escalation was also important for our allies. Managing the issue of stability and arms racing without a return to "business as usual" was also important but could be managed. 5/n
5+ years later, the risks of a clash and escalation are even more pressing perhaps than in 2016. Allies confidence in US is lower, Putin confidence in his own strategy stronger, need to communicate for both deterrence and reassurance very high. 6/n
Talks to enable both sides to ask questions, express concerns, and see if mutual interests in off ramps needed badly. Many Russian moves are seen as undermining US view of stability. Some may be designed to create risk, but others to enhance stability from Russia POV. 7/n
Many steps US is taking are designed to enhance stability, but some are seen by Russia as undermining that goal (see missile defenses per se). The two sides may not see eye to eye, but may find areas of overlap. Trying is almost as important as finding. 8/n
If there is no overlap and efforts to sustain talks fail, the US and allies have many other, albeit less efficient and effective means to counter Russia actions. But sustaining support for those very hard without a real effort to identify areas of agreement. 9/n
If areas of agreement are found, there may be ground for mutual steps to enhance crisis comms and management, and reduce the events that could lead to a clash. Some areas might even include mutual constraint on nuclear and related systems. Will take a lot of time. 10/n
Past arms control has saved US a lot of money and bought down risk of conflict. US could use money to compete w/ Russia in other areas, including cyber, conventional, other defense prgrms or spend to enhance US economic strength. Current plan far from needed or affordable. 11/n
US should come prepared. It needs the President's team to succeed. @POTUS nominee @Jenkinsbd has been voted out of committee but being held on unrelated issue. A real detriment to the urgent need to address nuclear risks. Time for the US to put in its A team. 12/n
The work of American security requires sober, patient and dispassionate analysis and action. Hard to come by in many areas these days and on defense and nuclear issues in particular. But launching talks after long delay a good start. Wishing both delegations success. end/

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More from @JBWolfsthal

4 May
John Bolton has an opinion on the Iran nuclear deal - a thread.
The Washington Post Op-Ed page today carried a long op-ed by former National Security Advisor to Donald Trump today on why President Biden should "ditch" the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. washingtonpost.com/opinions/globa… 1/
I won't point out the many weaknesses of his arguments here, aside from the fact that Iran is now a couple of months away from a bomb if it wants one, compared to over a year under the Iran deal signed in 2015. It was Bolton who helped push Trump to pull out of the 2015 deal. 2/
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