Republicans Try to Shoot Down START
Despite the fact that five former Republican secretaries of state–Powell, Kissinger, Shultz, Baker, and Eagleburger–as well as George H. W. Bush are all on record as saying that the new START treaty is good and will make the world safer, Republicans in the Senate are making sounds about voting down the treaty.
Why? According to Mitch McConnell:
Republican senators are “uneasy” about the treaty, and trying to get a vote before Christmas was not the best way to “get the support of people like me,” McConnell said.
He makes it sound like this was just suddenly thrown at the Senate and they’re flustered about whether or not it’s good enough. Despite having had eight months since the treaty was signed to study the treaty, 18 Senate committee hearings (12 by the Foreign Relations Committee), dozens of witnesses, thousands of questions asked, a National Intelligence Estimate, and a State Department report and analysis all confirming that the treaty is sound and we should sign it. The former Republican president and five Republican secretaries of state endorsing the bill are just the cherry on top.
But Republicans don’t like the timing of how it’s being pitched to them. Bullshit. If they’re not fully briefed on the treaty, then it’s due to their own incompetence. What else?
Their main substantive objection is that the treaty would limit America’s ability to deploy missile defense systems. Ah, well that sounds important, and could be a real sticking point, right? Well, if the objections were based in reality, yes. Of course, they’re not–the Republican claims are thoroughly debunked here.
What Republicans are doing in the Senate smacks of political game-playing. They are trying to get changes made to the preamble of the treaty–which is legally non-binding and would have no effect on our obligations–and other changes that would necessitate going back and renegotiating the treaty with Russia, throwing a rather significant wrench into our nuclear security options.
The fact that the objections are rather transparently false, and the way the Republicans are doing this, suggest pretty clearly that they are not interested in national security so much as they want to deprive Obama of another achievement and create the impression that they were responsible for making the treaty actually work.
“Country First” indeed.