In a quite remarkable statement on Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison announced that the U.S. would consider destroying Russian missiles that are deployed in breach of a Cold War-era treaty.

Responding to Russia's deployment of the Novator 9M729 intermediate range ballistic missile system, Hutchinson told reporters that U.S. "countermeasures would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty.... Getting them to withdraw would be our choice, of course. But I think the question was what would you do if this continues to a point where we know that they are capable of delivering. And at that point, we would then be looking at a capability to take out a missile that could his any of our countries in Europe and hit America in Alaska."

Hutchison is absolutely right that the Novator missile is in direct breach of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. She is also right to be alarmed: The Novator would allow Russia to smash NATO in-depth defensive lines in the event of any invasion of Western Europe. That said, military strikes aren't the way to address this threat. Instead, the U.S. should replicate what President Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s and address Russia's threat by developing a capability that outmatches it.

Fortunately, we're not starting from scratch here. Congress is already pushing the Pentagon to develop an intermediate range missile system that outmatches the Novator. Such a program would address the present Russian threat without risking the full-scale nuclear war that Hutchison's action might incur (although the U.S. would likely win such a war, it would be utterly catastrophic). More importantly, U.S. development of a short-intermediate range ballistic missile system would also likely bring the Russians to the table to negotiate a new treaty. While Russia is developing its nuclear strike capabilities and bunkers, it knows the U.S. retains a sizable technological advantage in this area (although not in air defense capabilities). Were the U.S. to announce it had begun work on a new intermediate range system, the Russians would pay heed. Indeed, that's exactly what happened in the 1980s. Recognizing that the U.S. intermediate range missiles based in Europe threatened Russian interests far more than Russian missiles threatened the U.S., Gorbachev decided to negotiate. The INF Treaty followed.

Ultimately, in this case as in most cases, the best way to deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin is to simply beat him at his own game.