New START — A Bad Start

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Last week, Senate Minority Leader Jon Kyl, the highest-ranked Republican in the Senate and the second most powerful Republican in Congress, signaled that he would not be willing to move ahead with President Obama’s much-loved New START treaty. New START, which was signed by President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev last April, is a sweeping update on past START treaties (START stands for Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). By signaling his reluctance to rush passage of the treaty before this Congressional session ends, Kyl has delivered a body blow to one of President Obama’s primary foreign policy victories to date, and has left the Administration scrambling to secure passage of the Treaty during the current lame-duck Congress.

The treaty is an evolution of various agreements between the United States and Russia to monitor and gradually reduce the size of each nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. Under it, both sides would have the right to inspect each other’s nuclear facilities and operationally deployed warheads would be limited to 1,550 per side. There would also be a limit of 700 “launchers,” which would include some mix of ground- and sea-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and long-range heavy bombers. (A further 100 launchers would be allowed to be kept in a non-deployed state as a reserve, in case a “deployed” bomber crashed, for example, it could be replaced without violating the treaty or having to build a new launcher). Tactical nuclear stockpiles would not be effected.

The Treaty is worth ratifying. It would give American officials access to Russian facilities and does not pose any realistic threat to U.S. national security interests. Deterrence would be maintained, as both Russia and the United States would retain more than enough warheads, deployed on numerous delivery systems, to utterly destroy each other as modern, functioning civilizations. The power of both would be balanced. Some early critics of the Treaty worried that its math was flawed because it counted every bomber as one launcher when it could in fact carry multiple warheads, but such concerns miss the forest for the trees. Even if one side were to cheat and break the rules of the treaty when launching a sneak nuclear attack, they would be destroyed anyway. Mutually assured destruction is a fact.

Seeking to preserve one of his major foreign policy victories, the Administration has suggested that failure to ratify the Treaty would jeopardize plans to spend tens of billions of dollars on a modernization program for America’s rapidly aging nuclear arsenal. Nuclear weapons have shelf-lives, and are extraordinarily complex machines. Many of the technicians and engineers who built the current generation of warheads during the closing days of the Cold War are now retired, or near to it, and the U.S. Military would like to field a new generation of high-tech, simplified warheads that will be cheaper to maintain, less prone to deterioration over time and more secure against any possible terrorist threat.

Such a program, while important for American national security, has not been confirmed by the White House. Indeed, as the prospects for a speedy passage of New START have soured, Administration officials have even begun to muse that no Treaty might mean no replacement warheads. “There is a risk that not moving ahead with Congress could shatter the fragile consensus on modernizing the nuclear complex,” said a senior Obama Administration official. “New START puts nuclear modernization in the right context for those who worry how it could send the wrong signal to the world and undermine our non-proliferation efforts.”

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  • Bear from Russia

    A pretty good post. As I already said new START is equally important for both our countries

  • Jim Johnson

    We talk about arms reduction while China builds a massive blue water navy.
    People should read the nov 17 2010 report from the US-China Security Review Commission.

  • bubba4

    This is the same agreement that we have had with Russia since Reagan. If we want to be able to monitor what is going on in the Soviet Union, the Republicans need to let America continue forward with its business.

    "New Start – bad start" grow up you wankers. You're bad for America.

    • steve

      For the record: Soviet Union doesn't exist since 1991…It was kaput – pooooffff. Just want to point it out…

  • Mike in VA

    Hmmmm. Now, why would the extradition of the world's most popular man, Viktor Bout, increase tensions between the US and Russia?

  • USMCSniper

    China and Russia are moderizing their weapons systems in both nuclear and conventional forces, by new sreategic weapons that include new missiles with multiple nuclear warheads, to new stealth fighters equivalent to the cancelled F-22, to new multi-missile long range SA-400 radar controlled anti aircraft platforms. And what are we doing for military preparedness? Cutting back on all weapons systems and social engineering in the military by mainstreaming open unrestricted homosexuality regardless of the objections from all the senior commanders. No wonder Putin calls Obama "Obambi"

    • Bear From Russia

      US is spending on military more money than all other countries in the world together. The budget of ALL Russian military in 2010 is about 40$ billions. Budget of China is about 80 – 100 billions. Now please continue telling your fairy tales, I think you are paid for them.

      • alan g

        There is a reason why we are the most powerful force for freedom in the world. It is military might. Or did you forget that we outlasted the russians because we have a strong armed military? How quickly people forget.

      • Mark G

        Bear, China never had a Navy before. The Chinese Military is funding itself with the hundreds of billions of dollars the US is sending to them. Better revise your numbers comrade. If you actually believe the published numbers on China's spending….go have some more vodka!

    • Mark G

      Well said USMCSniper.

      Not to mention N.Korea, India, Pakistan, China, and soon to be Iran. I believe it was the Chinese that launched that missile off the coast of Los Angeles.

      We are exposed and Barry wants us naked!

  • oooStephen

    mm…i'd like to know how the access to our platforms and warheads isn't a security risk, and how this privilege won't get politicized and abused. russia's forced to reduce it's warheads simple because they're old and decaying, so what's in it for us?

    • Bear From Russia

      Actually you are wrong. In the last 10 years Russia is successfully updating it's Nuclear forces. A new land ICBM Topol-M and a new seabased ICBM Bulava were created and installed to the armed forces. Old soviet nukes are currently utilized and being changed for more modern sophisticated and reliable missiles. We do not spend hundreds of billions $ for conventional forces because we are not making wars all around the globe (as you do) So a strong nuclear shield is a good guaranty that nobody would like to bring us "a Light of Democracy" one day as it was made in Irak.

      • oooStephen

        modernizing your nuclear arsenal makes sense, and i hope they are truly modernized and stable . unfortunately, we are the defacto world's police force. we get blamed when we don't act, and when we do, even while so many others benefit without sharing the cost. regardless, i would have thought any u.s. mid east actions (iraq) would be viewed by Russians as dovetailing their actions in Chechnya. after all, we are all are fighting islam.

        • Bear From Russia

          Well… You are mixing things. We are on one side fighting Muslims terrorists fanatics I agree. Afghanistan is an example. But Iraq was a secular state under Saddam. It was a terrible bloody regime, but it was secular and predictable. Now Iraq is under sharia. As soon as last of your soldiers leave it it's only a matter of time till Iraq fully become a sharia state. It's absolutely the same situation as it was in Afghanistan after Soviet forces leaved it. A secular state existed only for couple of years.

      • USMCSniper

        55% of the military budget is for retirees, retirees benifits, and for civilian service support personnel and 20% is sheer waste they can't even account for. What Russia says she spends on their military is 30% far below what they really spend Janes Information Group says she spends and China spends is really double the $150 billion reported at least also according to Janes Information Group. Go lay the wolf bait and sit in it,

  • MinnieIam

    We lack trained technicians, scientists and engineers to keep up with Russia and China because for the past 50 years we have delegated our best and brightest to the trash heap while women, foreigners, minorities and the less than most qualified have been affirmative actioned ahead of those who have the intelligence to understand complicated subjects like nuclear fision and weapons systems. Most of our really brilliant white male students, the people who in the past , have been responsible for most of our inventions and spectacular progress, are ignored, discouraged and subjected to vilification and mental abuse designed to instill guilt because of their race. If anyone dared suggest that all Africans are canabals because some Africans ate people in the past he would be prosecuted for a hate crime, yet we have allowed our text books and teachers to teach white children, especially white males, that they are the evil product of evil men because some of their ancestors owned slaves and committed other acts now considered unpardonable sins by today’s self styled elites. It little wonder we have lost our manufacturing base , have to import foreign technicians, engineers and and scientists, and are fast approaching third world status. We spend more money educating foreign students than we spend educating our own children if they happen to not be one of the protected and promoted special treatment class. there is no way we can compete with the rest of the world when we are spinning our wheels educating and promoting the less than most qualified , while ingoring and abusing those who have the ability to achieve greatness.

  • USMCSniper

    Read, understand and focus if that is possible

  • Wesley69

    This Administration is totally irresponsible. How dare them blackmail the Senate saying no Treaty might mean no replacement warheads for our aging flight. But a credible nuclear deterrent must be Obama's top goal, not doing something for his own PR record as president. It does seem that Obama likes to punish its own country for political defeats it suffers.


    The EPA is going to IMPOSE Cap despite the fact that Cap & Trade is dead in Congress.

    Obama threatens to use executive amnesty for illegals since he has not gotten his Dream Act. This administration has shown that it don't care about the people of this country. In fact, their actions review a contempt for WE THE PEOPLE.

    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Thomas Jefferson

  • bruce

    we don't need any of these f'in treaties with criminal countries like russia or the chinks what we need is more war heads not fewer.we need to deploy counter measures against ICBMs,s while increasing the size of our sub force and for the commie ass lickers,go play with your self and leave defense of the nation to the grown ups.

  • Robert

    Because of our great American “horse-trading” abilities, we have managed to reduce our Strategic nuclear stockpiles (which arguably led to American politicians eagerly destroying some of our best and newest, while the Russians destroyed their oldest and most problems prone) but there is NO doubt but that we have now allowed a more than ten-to-one Tactical nuclear advantage to the Russians.
    Rather than drone on any longer, simply let me close with this concept; if anti-American nations like Communist Russia and China are happy or satisfied with ANY American treaty – know that it is pretty much a rock solid slam dunk – for the Communists!

  • Robert

    This author of this article insists (without any rationale as to WHY?) that this new START program is good for America – but why is it really good for America? Because we can access the Russian weapons storage facilities? He never mentions the obvious. That this START Treaty, as with past START Treaties, only deals with Strategic nuclear weapons – not Tactical nuclear weapons!

  • Robert

    Why is it that American’s will tend to believe anything they see in print, or on the TV? This article is written by a Matt Gurney, no bio, and his opinion is just that – his opinion. Well here is my own opinion. First off, American’s are notoriously bad “horse-traders,” and our politicians are even worse than the “average” American.
    Any deal that pleases Russia should be seriously reconsidered. This whole modern START process is part-and-parcel of Russia’s (so far) successful suppression of American weapon’s modernization; a process that far surpasses that of ANY other nation’s military armed forces in the entire world! This is what currently scares Russia and China. Their belief, and in my opinion, correctly so – is that if the Communist nations can keep America from updating our military for about the next decade, the Communist’s