The New START Treaty: President Obama is pushing for a monumental surrender to Russia
By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: December 14th, 2010
The Obama administration has an impeccable track record of caving in to Russian demands, as part of its controversial “reset” policy. Last year, it threw key US allies Poland and the Czech Republic under the bus, ditching plans for Third Site missile defences in deference to Russian opposition. It is now planning another surrender to Moscow, by pressing for Senate ratification of the new START Treaty in the lame duck session of Congress.
Instead of allowing the newly elected Congress to vote on the treaty, the Obama administration is trying to ram New START through without proper debate. No major treaty has ever been forced through Congress in a lame duck session.
There is mounting opposition in Washington to the New START Treaty, which would significantly weaken US security by undermining America’s ability to deploy an effective global missile defence system. Dozens of senators, as well as several leading likely Republican presidential candidates are opposed to the Treaty, including Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. As Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina has warned:
The START Treaty could severely weaken America’s ability to defend our people and our allies against missile attacks from nations like Iran, and we need all of the facts on how this treaty was agreed to… The newly elected Republican senators have signed a letter asking our leadership to postpone debate on START until they take office in a few weeks and have ample time to review the details. Americans didn’t vote in November to ram through the Obama administration’s wish list this December.
As part of its campaign to woo opponents of the Treaty, the Democratic White House has claimed that Ronald Reagan would have backed it, a simply ludicrous assertion. As Reagan’s attorney general Ed Meese, and Assistant Secretary of Defense, Richard Perle noted in The Wall Street Journal, the Gipper would never have backed an arms control agreement that encumbered “the pursuit of advanced ballistic missile defense technology”:
There are many reasons why this treaty falls short of those negotiated by President Reagan. For one thing, its verification regime is inadequate. For another, it gives the Kremlin an unwarranted influence over the structure of our nuclear deterrent. Most important, it will almost certainly reduce our freedom to deploy vital defenses against ballistic missiles.
Moreover, the administration is asking a lame-duck Senate, dominated by a party that was rebuked at the polls by the electorate, to vote for this major arms-control treaty, in contravention of the settled traditions of our country—a tactic Reagan surely would have deplored.
Simply put, the New START Treaty is a staggeringly bad deal for the United States, and an extraordinarily good one for Vladimir Putin’s increasingly hostile and authoritarian Russia. President Obama needs to respect the will of the American electorate and allow the new Senate to vote on the Treaty, and fully scrutinise and debate the details of an agreement which, if ratified in its current form, will dramatically undercut America’s global missile defences. The White House is pressing for another monumental surrender to Moscow which will only strengthen the hand of a key US adversary.