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Are Senate Republicans Smarter Than Former Republican Secretaries Of State?

December 2, 2010

If anyone wants to understand the dangers of  political gridlock and short-sightedness in Washington they only need to examine the issue of the START treaty that is being debated.  What angers me, and should rile you as well, is that this treaty with Russia, if it were not for partisan politics, would have already been passed. 

That the GOP is playing politics with this matter, as they have done with stimulus funding and health care, is par for the course.  The Republicans have concluded that rejecting, stopping, and snorting are the ways that best give them political power.  I recall when ideas once mattered.

Rejecting everything out of hand is a dreadful way to govern.  And when it comes to the START Treaty it is just down-right dangerous.

Today in the Washington Post is a must-read.  It is written by former Republican secretaries of state.  I ask my readers to consider the whole read….or the portions below.

International affirms rarely excites the electorate.  Arms control makes for nice general comments but often provokes more yawns than interest among the voters.

But this issues matters.  This treaty is needed. 

If nothing more is gleamed by the public over this story than the fact mere GOP partisanship in the U.S. Senate is holding the treaty up, than let that be enough to make voters pay attention.

Whatever it takes, this treaty must pass.

First, the agreement emphasizes verification, providing a valuable window into Russia’s nuclear arsenal. Since the original START expired last December, Russia has not been required to provide notifications about changes in its strategic nuclear arsenal, and the United States has been unable to conduct on-site inspections. Each day, America’s understanding of Russia’s arsenal has been degraded, and resources have been diverted from national security tasks to try to fill the gaps. Our military planners increasingly lack the best possible insight into Russia’s activity with its strategic nuclear arsenal, making it more difficult to carry out their nuclear deterrent mission.

Second, New START preserves our ability to deploy effective missile defenses. The testimonies of our military commanders and civilian leaders make clear that the treaty does not limit U.S. missile defense plans. Although the treaty prohibits the conversion of existing launchers for intercontinental and submarine-based ballistic missiles, our military leaders say they do not want to do that because it is more expensive and less effective than building new ones for defense purposes.

Finally, the Obama administration has agreed to provide for modernization of the infrastructure essential to maintaining our nuclear arsenal. Funding these efforts has become part of the negotiations in the ratification process. The administration has put forth a 10-year plan to spend $84 billion on the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons complex. Much of the credit for getting the administration to add $14 billion to the originally proposed $70 billion for modernization goes to Sen. Jon Kyl, the Arizona Republican who has been vigilant in this effort. Implementing this modernization program in a timely fashion would be important in ensuring that our nuclear arsenal is maintained appropriately over the next decade and beyond.

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