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  • Why New START is Failing

    It was supposed to be done by now. Like cap and trade and Guantanamo before it, President Barack Obama’s New START with Russia was expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate of the 111th Congress. But just as the Obama administration has admitted defeat and is now scrubbing the White House webiste clean of cap and trade references, the administration is retreating on New START as well.

    Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) had scheduled a Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on the treaty before the August recess but had to pull the item for lack of votes. Former Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Rademaker explains why:

    From the outset, proponents of New START have framed the issue as one on which senators must vote either yes or no. And those not in favor of “yes” are acting, as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry said of former governor Mitt Romney, on the basis of “narrow, uninformed political objections.”

    This narrative grossly oversimplifies the way complex treaties typically are addressed in the Senate. In addition to voting yes or no, senators ordinarily are afforded the option of voting “yes, provided . . . ” — with that “provided” consisting of declarations and conditions in the Senate resolution of approval that are designed to remedy concerns about particular aspects of a treaty.

    Overzealous supporters of treaties sometimes try to deny senators this third option, calculating that they have enough votes to ram a treaty through irrespective of some lawmakers’ reservations. This strategy can work brilliantly to streamline the approval process — but it can also fail spectacularly, as with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1999.

    Working with the critics to address their concerns could pave the way for a strong bipartisan vote in favor of New START, as happened with the Chemical Weapons Convention. This would, however, require a level of patience and respect for dissenting views that has not been in evidence.

    Instead, the process more closely resembles the one that surrounded the test-ban treaty. If current trends continue, the likely outcome will be a near party-line vote in the committee next month, probably foreclosing prospects for Senate approval this year.

    As Rademacher notes: “All but two Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee formally asked the administration to share with them the negotiating record of the treaty. They were told no, even though there is precedent for accommodating such requests.” The administration would be wise to follow this request.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Why New START is Failing

    1. Robert, Edmonton Alberta says:

      There is no reason for New START the SORT Treaty should have been the last treaty needed. SORT needed to be codified and incorporate a detailed verification regime but the numbers of 2200 warheads was low enough given the strategic realities of today’s dangerous world.

      Obama just wanted to cut below the evil “Bush” and be the great disarming president and the hell with US security.

    2. Dennis Georgia says:

      When john kerry, the anti-war senator proposes anything it is wrong. Any one that will do what he did to the Vets of Vietnam is not after the best for this country. The whole experience for him was for political gain, not for any thing else. I pity the residence of Ma, they have all been lead down the rosey path to ruin.

      The term limits for all need to be limited. I can not help but believe that kerry has stayed long past his welcome, should never have been elected.

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