A Troubled New START

A vote to end Senate debate on the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is slated to take place today. If this vote passes, a second vote to ratify the treaty could take place later in the day or possibly Wednesday. The Russian government has made it painfully clear to the United States that START is a take it or leave it proposition. Yesterday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Russian news agency Interfax that the new START “cannot be opened up and become the subject of new negotiations.” If the Senate is going to accede to Lavrov’s instructions and ratify the treaty without amendments, it will have to happen before the end of the lame duck session. President Obama might just be able to cobble together the nine Republican votes needed to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary for ratification this year. But next year? Next year the president would have to find fourteen sympathetic Republican senators and that would be a much more difficult task. Accordingly, it comes as no surprise that Obama and his allies are doing everything they can to force a vote on the treaty before the 111th Congress disbands. The president places a great deal of importance on United States’ relations with Russia and seems convinced the Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev are reliable, trustworthy friends. If the Senate should fail to ratify the new START, Obama fears that his new best friends will sour on their relationship.

In a virtual replay of the abbreviated debate over the healthcare bill, Democrats are pushing hard to rush forward toward a vote with minimal debate. Senator Mitch McConnell complained about such strong arm tactics. “Our top concern should be the safety and security of our nation, not some politician’s desire to declare a political victory and host a press conference before the end of the year,” he said. Senator John Kerry scoffed at his colleague’s complaints, saying that the Senate had delayed a vote on the new START thirteen times over the last fourteen months. Kerry did not mention that it was only relatively recently that details of the treaty were finalized and made public. Those details worry some prominent foreign policy experts who fear that the net effect of the new START – no matter high-minded the treaty may be – will be to erode America’s national security and further destabilize the world.

A letter detailing some of those concerns was sent to Senator McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from the New Deterrent Working Group last week. The letter was signed by thirty-two former diplomats and retired military commanders, including John Bolton, William Clark, Ed Meese and Admiral James “Ace” Lyons, Jr. The working group exposed a number of troubling details contained within the draft treaty, which – in spite of Russia’s “all-or-nothing” posturing – Senators who swore an oath to serve the United States and its citizens should at least thoroughly consider before deciding whether or not to call Putin’s bluff and attach conditions to their approval of the treaty. Among the more worrisome aspects of new START are the following:

• Russia’s Tactical Nuclear Advantage Will Be Enhanced – The new START addresses only strategic nuclear weapons and does nothing to redress Russia’s ten to one advantage over the United States in tactical nuclear weapons. Estimates vary, but Russia probably has over 5,000 tactical nuclear warheads in its inventory, compared to less than 500 in the U.S. arsenal. The New Deterrent Working Group makes the point that as strategic nuclear weapons stores shrink, the importance of tactical nukes increases and the Russian advantage in that arena weighs more heavily.

• America’s Investment In Defense Technology Will Be Undercut – The Russian strategic nuclear arsenal was not built to last, while America’s was designed for the long haul. Bolton et al. argue that the Russians would be forced to cut back their strategic nuclear forces to new START levels whether or not the treaty is approved, simply because their aging fleet of missiles and bombs are metaphorically and physically rusting away. In contrast, the United States has invested considerable time and money to ensure that our strategic nuclear deterrent will continue to be effective for decades to come. If the new START is approved, America’s investment in cutting-edge deterrent technology will be wiped away at the stroke of a pen and Russia won’t be forced to pay any price at all to achieve nuclear parity with the world’s sole remaining superpower.

• Global Stability Will Suffer – For over sixty years, America’s overwhelming technological edge in developing and delivering nuclear weapons has served as a deterrent that prevented other nation-states from using the nuclear threat to destabilize the world order. Many of our allies recognize the importance of America’s nuclear primacy and the fact that we have used that superiority wisely. If we choose to draw down on our nuclear arsenal, the temptation among our enemies to up the atomic ante grows exponentially. Given a window of opportunity, the temptation for nuclear-capable nations like China and Pakistan to increase their own stockpiles to the point that they present a credible, and influential, threat increases manifold.

• Missile Defense May Be Undercut – Although the body of the treaty does not directly threaten America’s commitment to employ active defensive measures against ballistic nuclear threats, the preamble of the agreement suggests that America and Russia ought to cooperate when it comes to the United States’ strategic defense decisions. This would appear to be opening a very dangerous door. President Obama has committed to deploying an active missile defense system by 2020. The new START appears to provide Russia with an avenue that could undermine that resolve, depending on the character and commitment of the administration in power at the time. Bolton, Senator Jon Kyl and others have wondered why this issue should even be raised, much less spelled out in the text of such an important treaty.

There is nothing inherently wrong with reducing the world’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Yet, that noble goal should not be used as an excuse to justify every action. The United States Senate should carefully consider all of the implications of the new START before voting on the measure. And, should that review stretch into the realm of the 112th Congress, so be it. National security should count for far more than expedient political considerations. Harry Reid may not understand that, but at least thirty-four Republican Senators should get the point before it’s too late.

  • leib

    Russia in fact has already modernized its land based force with the TOPOL under Yeltsin and the TOPOL M (mobile version) under Putin, We have not modernized our forces and it is this difference combined with the reduction under START that will reduce our extended deterrence. During the Yom Kippur War Russia's threats to intervene were stopped by Nixon going to nuclear alert with our advantage; parity or Russian superiority is a geopolitical game changer especially with Iran heading towards nukes and Russia and Iran working to make Venezuela a nuclear missile threat to the US. Add in the brakes on missile defensse development and deployment and the Chinese threat mentioned above. Now that Scott Brown has announced (could have been Ted Kennedy) support for the treaty prospects look good for passage. The lack of focus on strategic issues in the fall campaign is showing along with the clever tactic of using the lame duck to ram this terrible treaty through.

    • http://www.mysapce.com/freddawes1776/ Fred Dawes

      leib is right my brother worked on the 1st START We may as well jump into a lake of death, but face facts we all ARE A DEAD COUNTRY, We have walked into hell with 50 million third world troops inside this country who have political race power and who will help our enemies kill us all.

  • http://netzero.com Steve Chavez

    The Democrats remind of LOOTERS stealing everything in the store before the cops show up!

    Major, and serious, legislation is being rushed through with little to no debate or reading and understanding of bills which are loaded with other issues that are in fine print so no one can see! Look for the fake lovers of Christmas to hold up members of Congress for Christmas votes like they did last year and then coming out in front of the cameras to gloat about their "Christmas present to the American people!"

  • http://apollospaeks.townhall.com ApolloSpeaks


    I'll cut to the chase: the directing principle of the anti-democratic, increasingly oppressive, neo-Stalinist Putin regime is imperial restoration: the restoration of Russia as a great world power. This puts Russia on a collision course with the US as was signaled by the portentious collison of a US and Russian satellite over Siberia early last year. This disaster occured 21 days into the Obama administartion and just three days after Joe Biden's visit to Munich (symbol of appeasing implacable enemies) where he announced the reset policy with Russia. Since then our gutless, apologetic, kowtowing President has made the following blunders that have enabled the resurgence of Russian power……..

    Click my name to continue reading article

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  • davarino

    Oooo scarry, the Russians make threats about amending the treaty and we are supposed to shiite ourselves. Ya and the democrats were afraid when Reagan got tough with the Russians back in the 80s. This is why you dont hand over National Security to the modern day democrats, cause they are a bunch of pussies. They didnt confront bullies in grade school and they dont confront bullies as grownups. When will they learn that bullies do not respect cowards. The rules are not, we play nice they will play nice. The rules are, get the other sucker to play nice so we can take advantage of him.

  • http://logistory.blogspot.com/ noway2no

    How nicely we all walk to the gallows.

  • sneed5

    Putin knows Obama is a weak president and has exhibited himself as the same. Why not take advantage of him? (See Davarino, above!)

  • BLJ

    The West will hang themselves by their own rope. Lenin was right. Obama is a fool.

  • alexander

    You mean those Democraps, de facto communist party? Surprised?

  • USMCSniper

    The Chinese are building two new nuclear powered aircraft carriers, the Russians and the Chinese are upgrading to the SA-400 long range multi warhead multi targeting anti aircraft anti missle system, building the SA-50 (F22 equivalent) fighter, and what do we do today. Pass START to disarm ourselves and socially engineer the armed forces so the bunboys and the tuna fish breaths can particpate in their debauchery and deviancy openly. Watch the mass exodus of career marines and soldiers once this starts nad the open flaunting of gay behavior and no response because of Political Correctness.

  • hijinx60

    There is no such thing as strength through cowardice. If ever the USA needs to be strong, it is now. Putin was KGB and still has the mindset of trickery, bullying, and plain out deciet. I can hear the arguement that we have enough warheads to blow the earth away, but we must (at least in appearance) be stronger than Russia or we will face the consequences. Obama has never appeared strong, so our military must. However with the repeal of DADT Russia sees us as weak now and will not fail to take advantage of this weakness.

  • Claire Mortenson

    Anytime anyone is trying to weaken America, John "The Traitor" Kerry will be right out front. I just finished reading "Unfit for Command" that was written in 2004 by John O'Neill of Swift Boat fame. John Kerry is CLEARLY a Marxist and there is no way he should still be serving in the Senate. Why he was never brought up on treason charges is beyond me. He collaborated with North Vietnam while he was in the military. I recommend the book to all you people in Mass. What are you guys thinking to continue to re-elect this traitor?

  • http://www.mysapce.com/freddawes1776/ Fred Dawes

    It looks like we are a dead Nation no matter what we do, with 50 million Third World people here and love the ideals of our Foes/Marxist and want thiis Nation dead,dead,dead. just look at our so called Government which will sell us all down the river and make money on our backs we have so may little traitors its a joke, the fact is Claire Mortenson we don't re-elect anyone our Government is under control by others our Political People are, our Enemy and hate the people who made this nation great.

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  • Wesley69

    Dimocrats & RINO's will give Russia the victory it seeks with the help of Mr O, the Appeaser-in-Chief. Never mind the security interests of this country. This is about Obama & his belief that if the US leads the way, the rest of the world will follow. He is a fool leading a parade of none.

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