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GOP START Treaty Obstruction Impacts More Than Nukes

GOP START Treaty Obstruction Impacts More Than Nukes

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President [Barack] Obama to be a one-term president,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced after the midterm elections.  Perhaps you were under the impression McConnell’s statement was just hyperbole; his vindictive sentiment, mere posturing for the benefit of the GOP’s reanimated right wing.  If so, this business with Republicans screwing around with the START treaty should put that thought right out of your mind.

From the moment the president signed the nuclear arms reduction pact with the Russians, Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), have “kept moving the goal posts…”

Max Bergmann briefly laid out the history of Kyl’s delay tactics within his Nov. 16 Wonk Room post.

…Last summer, Kyl was whining immensely that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) was rushing the process and that a committee vote should not happen until after the August recess. After the SFRC delayed, Kyl spoke to Reuters who paraphrased Kyl:

It could be difficult to satisfy his [Kyl's] demands before November and thus the vote on New START might need to take place during the lame duck session if the Senate wants to vote on the treaty this year…

The vote was delayed, and Kyl’s demands were met, but…

In September, after the SFRC did hold its vote, Kyl and Senate Republicans argued that having a vote before the election was impossible because it would politicize the process and that a vote should happen after the election…

Predictably, now that the election has passed, Kyl and Republicans say there isn’t enough time in the Senate calendar.

Of course, for Kyl and the Republicans, that was the plan all along, as it has been with every White House initiative since Obama took office.  Playing this game with foreign policy commitments, however, has broader implications than it has with domestic legislation.

The consequences are already presenting themselves.  Steve Benen, author of Washington Monthly’s Political Animal blog, has been on this all week.  Regarding the risks Republicans are running, Benen wrote (11/17), “They expect this to hurt the foreign policy power of the United States, but they’re fine with that since there’s a Democratic president…” (emphasis added)

When it comes to Russia, inspection of the country’s long-range nuclear bases will remain suspended indefinitely; the country’s hard-liners will be emboldened; and Russia’s willingness to cooperate with U.S. on Iran or on Afghanistan will likely disappear.

But in the bigger picture, countries around the globe will see this as a reminder that negotiating with the United States is pointless, since the country is burdened with a Republican Party that puts partisan hatred above the country’s interests. It hurts American credibility in ways that are hard to even gauge.

Indeed, and as Matt Cooper noted in his Nov. 16 National Journal post, another bilateral agreement – a trade pact with South Korea – failed, in part, because “Seoul’s concern about ratification prospects in the Senate.”

Fortunately, there still a chance that Senate Democrats will force a vote on START before the next Congress.  If they do, it will be interesting to see whether or not the Republicans blink.  Only one elected Republican, Indiana Senator Dick Lugar, has called on his party to put national security before politics on this one, and numerous other non-elected officials from both sides have done the same.

I’d like to think Sen. Lugar isn’t the lone Republican voice of reason in the Senate.  Optimism, however, is difficult to muster when there are others, like Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), who seems to relish the opportunity to poke the Russians with a stick.

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7:39AM PST on Dec 20, 2010

Noted!!

10:00AM PST on Dec 17, 2010

"If you have not done so already, please call your Senators and tell them to vote against ratifying New START.

Thanks again for all that you do.

Your friend,

Newt Gingrich
General Chairman
American Solutions

He is no friend to hte American people, more like a fiend!"

I have heard that the specifics of the treaty; what is being given away, what the other sides gains; the notes of the actual negotiations, is being withheld from those in Congress who must decide if this is really good for all of us.
Besides to listen to people kvetching to get this passed one would think that the US has not ever reduced these weapons. Existing policies have the current stockpile cut in half by 2012.

"Reuters) - The United States disclosed for the first time on Monday the current size of its nuclear arsenal, lifting the veil on once top-secret numbers in an effort to bolster non-proliferation efforts.

The Pentagon said it had a total of 5,113 warheads in its nuclear stockpile at the end of September, down 84% from a peak of 31,225 in 1967. The arsenal stood at 22,217 warheads when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

The figure includes warheads that are operationally deployed, kept in active reserve and held in inactive storage. But it does not include 'several thousand' warheads that are now retired and awaiting dismantlement, the Pentagon said."

Even that number is down about 700 since 2007! In 2002, the US and Russia agreed in SORT treaty to reduce ... to not more than

7:10AM PST on Dec 17, 2010

The rest of the letter got cut off. Here it is:

Americans are uninterested in having their Senators ratify a controversial treaty and then leave town without any accountability, and this is certainly no way to consider a binding international agreement that weakens our self-defense and further empowers Russia.

If you have not done so already, please call your Senators and tell them to vote against ratifying New START.

Thanks again for all that you do.

Your friend,

Newt Gingrich
General Chairman
American Solutions

He is no friend to hte American people, more like a fiend!

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