Republicans Need To Get Serious About Foreign Affairs

This election season should be seen by everyone as one big insult to our collective intelligence.

At a time of great international flux, two wars being waged by the U.S., a determined element bent on terrorist activities, and restless regions around the globe there was hardly any mention of anything other than gross simplification of taxes and repealing the health care bill.

Now the ones who thought it best to win an election without any real mental preparation for the issues that confront the nation and the world have some serious issues to ponder.

One of those issues involves Russia and three treaties that will need U.S. Senate ratification.  They involve an arms control treaty to reduce nuclear arsenals and resume inspections; a civilian nuclear agreement to permit greater cooperation; and a repeal of cold war-era trade restrictions so Russia can join the World Trade Organization.

This morning on the Sunday news shows the issue of these treaties was presented in the form of a question to one of the new thinkers that was elected, Rand Paul of Kentucky.  He stated he was unlikely to be able to support the treaties.  It would appear from his interview this morning he was potty trained at gun point, so he will not be productive on many issues. Being unreasonable seems more his intent than anything else.   But for the sake of international relations and stability there must be a bi-partisan mass of mature and reasoned senators that jells for passage of the treaties. 

This issue is not new, and while it should have had air-time in the recent elections, requires attention now.

The New York Times had a reminder of the significance of the issue in today’s newspaper.

“This is not a traditionally Democratic or Republican issue but rather an issue of American national security,” Mr. Obama said. “And I am hopeful that we can get that done before we leave and send a strong signal to Russia that we are serious about reducing nuclear arsenals, but also sending a signal to the world that we’re serious about nonproliferation.”

If he fails to win approval before the old Senate adjourns, Mr. Obama’s advisers and allies worry that the relationship with Russia will be frozen at a time when they consider it critical to increase Russian cooperation on several fronts, most notably pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear program.

“If that goes down, everything else is on ice,” said Samuel Charap, an analyst at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research organization. Cooperation on Iran, nonproliferation, Afghanistan and terrorism could be affected, he said. “None of that, zero, is going to happen. It really could have a major effect.”

Within the administration, a nightmare scenario envisions even worse consequences. Russian leaders traditionally have looked for weakness in American counterparts, and Mr. Obama’s failure to impose his will on Congress would be seen as a sign of impotence. That could undercut President Dmitri A. Medvedev, who has made the improved relationship between Russia and the United States a centerpiece of his tenure despite Mr. Putin’s doubts. If the reset comes undone, some analysts suggested it would hurt Mr. Medvedev’s chances of persuading Mr. Putin to let him run for a second term in 2012. It could embolden those in the security establishment who want to keep close ties with Iran. By some estimates, Russia’s decision to go along with sanctions on Iran could cost as much as $13 billion in arms sales.

Most important among those abandoned sales was the transfer of a sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft system to Tehran that Mr. Medvedev blocked. If relations with the United States deteriorate and Moscow resumed the sale, security specialists said it could provoke Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear program before the S-300 missiles are delivered because, once in place, they would make it far more dangerous for attacking warplanes.