Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Start Treaty- The U.S. Senate's Rush to Judgment?

By all accounts the United States Senate seems poised to pass the new “Start” Nuclear Arms Treaty with Russia that the Obama Admistration has “negotiated” and is actively attempting to force through the lame duck session of Congress. This is the same treaty that the current President of Russia, along with their military industrial complex and former and Anti-American President Putin, strongly supports and has warned the United States “is not subject to any modification” lest they pull out from the treaty altogether. And no wonder! The treaty, as currently written provides for less stringent inspection and verification than its predecessor and has very little in it that is not favorable to their position.

Most troubling to the interests of the United States is the language in the treaty's preamble-- which the Russians have made clear they interpret as forbidding the U.S. from building and/or employing any “star wars” type of missile shield to protect innocent American cities and civilians from surprise attack at the hands of terrorists or rogue states like Iran and North Korea-- and gives the Russians a distinct advantage by handicapping America from being able to protect herself and allies around the world from unprovoked rogue attacks.

In fact, other than allow resumption of limited visits from U.S. inspectors to “verify” the total number of Russian nukes, (with reciprocal rights for Russia, of course), it is hard to see what's in it for the U.S. and the freedom-loving world. Notably, the treaty does nothing to reign in the threat to the Western world posed by the significant arsenal of “tactical” nukes that are mobile and can be quickly deployed (and used) in actual battlefield scenarios and would leave the Russians and her closest neighbor and Ally, China, with a distinct advantage on the ground in the event hostilities ever were to break out in that part of the world.

Indeed, this treaty leaves the Russians with their current ten to one superiority over the U.S. in tactical nuclear weapons, arguably a much more destabilizing and threatening aspect to the current state of international relations and affairs than the simple and much less strategic “inspection focused” regime envisioned by the treaty, (especially with its less stringent provisions).

Then too, other than for the very "imperialism" the left constantly bemoans and often denigrates it's more pro-American countrymen for, the insistence of doing this “now” in the "lame duck" session of the outgoing congress smacks of its own "intellectual imperialism" to the point of the irrational.  I mean, let's face it, as old as it is, the still existing "MAD" nuclear framework which assures both sides of their ability to respond with overwhelming force and blast each other off the face of the earth if attacked first will essentially be left unchanged regardless of whether or not this treaty is ratified

What will be changed however, in the Obama Administration's myopic insistence on forging ahead with its attempts to “reset” relations with Russia after the Georgian invasion and War in Chechnya-- both of which the U.S. opposed but were forced to stand by idly while thousands of innocent civilians were massacred, raped, and pillaged in the name of Russian rights to preemptively defend her “sovereignty” and “geographical homogeny” in that part of the world, click here and here-- is the U.S.'s ability to move forward with our already well-underway efforts to protect our population and military and strategic national interests from both terrorism and aggression in the midst of an ever more chaotic and uncertain world.

Coming on the heels of the Obama Administration's decision to “leave our allies at the altar” in the decision to reverse the Bush Administration's promise to protect our stalwart allies and new Nato members Czechoslovakia and Poland with regionally based missile defenses this is proving no small feat; indeed, one has to question whether such decisions are being made out of any real military or strategic analysis or simply as a result of Obama's now evident adoption of the long-discredited ideology of “peace at all costs,” (google "Neville Chamberlain" circa pre-World War two if you are not familiar with this concept). 

This ideology, a core part of the now aging liberal paradigm of the 60's based on equal parts Anti-American “imperialism” and equal parts “liberal guilt”-- as well as a naïve view of international affairs and the human condition-- wrongly assumes that if someone is mad at us it must be “our fault” for being the world's largest superpower and if we just “play nice” and appease our enemies they will return the favor in kind, is as dangerous as it is incorrect. (Indeed, as any school child of tender years can tell you, there is only one way to deal with a bully, a fact just as true in international relations as on the school yard, and no, it is NOT by giving him your lunch money!).

At stake however is far more than a school child's psychology lesson. In light of the Russian governments military exploits in Chechyna and Georgia and manifest willingness to persecute (and even murder!) its own citizens who they feel could pose any “threat” to their current authoritarian regime, see here, here and here, as well as exhibiting its willingness in recent years to use energy supplies as a geo-political weapon by threatening and actual shutting off of natural gas supplies to Ukraine upon which greater Europe relies to heat its cities during their brutal winters, see here-- it is entirely non-sensical to reward them with the ratification of this lopsided treaty. 

Indeed, to do so in light of the above actions revealing the “new” and “democratic” Russia to be more akin to an international “bully” than a reliable international ally for “peace and goodwill towards men” could actually embolden them to take other actions with an air of impunity that could in fact RAISE the chances for conflict between our two countries.  It also will have the collateral inhibiting effect on the present Administration and policy makers to not take any actions that might "upset" the Russians so as to cause them to pull out of the Treaty, (indeed, such is inevetible in light of the President openly saying the U.S. is proceeding with its plans for a defensive missile "shield.").    

In light of these facts the rush to ratify this treaty during a lame duck session of Congress in which the people's representatives cannot delve into such questions and their ramifications seems particularly ill-advised and raises the question, if this Treaty is so good and “fair” to American interests, why can't it withstand the heightened scrutiny it would come under if the time were taken to properly analyze it when the new Congress takes over in January?

To the contrary, the solemnity which should attend entering into such international obligations, (which once ratified carry the same force and weight under our Constitution as our Bill of Rights), demands that the utmost care and full analysis and debate be undertaken before proceeding, (especially since the Russians seem so happy with its terms as is).  At worst such a delay would allow time for clarification by the Russians that the pre-ample to the Treaty does NOT preclude a defensive missile shield sufficient to protect against rogue nuclear states or terrorist attack, at best it could result in a complete reworking of the terms of this treaty, (which in light of the the current provisions, would not, in our view, be a bad thing).

Treaty supporters are quick to point out that various previous political leaders and “every previous American head of state” supports passage, including Henry Kissinger and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but a close examination of their comments and recent editorials on the subject in fact shows many, including Henry Kissinger, have actually raised several concerns, including with the verification system and the question of tactical nuclear weapons, that are shared by those who wish to simply take a closer look at this treaty before ratification.

And while Republicans in the Senate, with their traditional deference to the Executive branch in affairs of national security, do not wish to appear partisan or as if they are “playing politics” on such important matters, neither should they simply “rubber stamp” whatever the Administration presents them instead of exercising their own independent judgment as is befitting of Senators in light of the critical effect this treaty has on our ability to defend ourselves against rogue attacks in an age of terrorism.

Moreover, and even more tellingly of this Administration's modus operandi, the executive branch's forging ahead in spite of the recent and significant congressional losses in the U.S. Congress can only be seen as a further slap in the face of the American people that the recent repeal of “Don't ask Don't tell” by a Congress whose agenda has just been repudiated by the voters seems to be and is reminiscent of the kind of back room deals and hard-ball political tactics used to pass the huge Obama Care legislation by any and all means when it was far from clear the American people either wanted nor needed such legislation, (hmmm, can you see a pattern here?)

While such examples vis a vis the Administration's self-aggrandizing arrogance are beyond the scope of the present post, the growing penchant this administration seems to have for ignoring the expressed will of the American people as exhibited in the ramming down our throats (no pun intended) of such controversial and politically charged “agenda items” as the repeal of “Don't ask Don't tell” (long on the political wish list of the liberal set in Washington) reveals a troubling lack of proper priorities and contempt for the American people when it comes to either discerning (or listening) to their wishes.

Indeed, such concerns, (as well as those attending rushed passage of this incredibly flawed and one-sided agreement), seem to have fallen on deaf ears in the Obama Administration's all-out push to force through the Start treaty's ratification in the lame duck session without a chance for a full and thorough consideration of this binding agreement's ramifications upon the cause of a lasting international peace and the security of these United States.

Hopefully, the United States Senate has a better sense of hearing. jp

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