Chinese ballistic missiles at a military parade in Beijing, September 2015
Andy Wong / REUTERS

In early August, the United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a landmark 1987 arms control accord with Russia. Just two weeks later, on a small island off the Californian coast, the Pentagon tested a land-based missile once banned under the agreement. The demise of the INF Treaty is now official, on paper as on the ground.

The treaty’s collapse was a long time coming. An agreement cannot work if only one party honors it, and the INF Treaty’s sole cosignatory, Moscow, had been flouting its rules for years. During his presidency, Barack Obama considered

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