Is New START a Nonstarter?

Posted: September 14, 2010 in Uncategorized
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My non-bold prediction is that New START will be ratified and that it’s really a matter of when and not if.

Along these lines, has plenty of interesting discussion related to New START.  They offer a five-part discussion full of professional speculation regarding the announcement that the treaty will move through the Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, 16 September following an August delay.

First, in analyzing the state-of-play of New START, James Jay Carafano makes many of the same points you’ll read here regarding the tone of the debate and the false sense of urgency being generated.  Since I’ve made many of those arguments myself, I won’t repeat them Carafano’s take here; just check out the link should the spirit move you.

Next, Peter Huessy comes up in the queue and he offers that our nuclear deterrence depends on us, not on a treaty.  By us, Huessy means to ask if the American people and her leaders are willing to spend the time and money it takes to have a safe, secure, reliable, and effective nuclear deterrence.  Huessy offers that the Global Zeros are simply not credible, and as such cannot be taken seriously for all the reasons listed here and/or here.

Third is Loren Thompson’s take, where he offers that nuclear deterrence’s durability and efficacy are over-rated.  Certainly, adversaries have and will misread our intentions but Thompson offers that until we have a breakthrough in defensive systems, deterrence, like a democratic republic as a form of government, will be the best we can do.  Rightly concerned about nuclear proliferation and terrorism, he attributes political leadership’s failure to make real progress in these two arenas to the fact many view the use of nuclear weapons as a nearly off-the-low-part-of-the-scale of possible futures, just as 9/11 was on 9/10.  On the basis of confidence and relationship building, and the fact Russia’s strategic arsenal still makes it a formidable potential adversary, Thompson favors new START.

Next, John Isaacs writes with the point of view and asserted analysis and rhetoric you’d expect of someone bearing the title “Executive Director, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.”  He thinks “it’s time” for new START based on…the fact he thinks it’s time.  Isaacs personalizes the issue by asserting a failure to ratify is due to a failure of courage and falls back on traditional arms control talking points with the appeal to authority metaphorically in bold, ital, underlined, and caps.  Amusingly, he references Jon Kly’s description of new START as “benign.”  Of course, “benign” as a description is often followed by the word “tumor.”  And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Finally, Henry Sokolski thinks New START is probably the one arms control treaty the Senate may find do-able if the administration proceeds along a path that scratches the Senate’s bipartisan itches.  However, satisfying these itches may not be in the cards because “the Administration has still not bothered to answer SASC’s questions for the record.”  Sokolski offers up that the administration would be well advised to ponder more productive paths towards nuclear security including engaging on the topic of China and pursuing stronger non and anti-proliferation efforts.  Sokolski sees a target-rich arms control environment even if he lacks confidence in the methods and devices being pursued.

National Journal often uses this format, that is, they ask a provocative question and then let a “panel of insiders” each address the issue as they see fit.  Certainly among the five positions, you’ll be able to find someone you can agree with.

  1. […] bothers me, the artificial time lines and sense of unnecessary urgency.  I feel the Senate should take the time it needs to come to closure on the issues therein and then using their best judgment, either accept or […]

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