• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • There Is an Alternative to New START

    Why is the Obama administration frantically trying to push New START, a strategic arms-control agreement with Russia, through the “lame duck” session of Congress? Because of the president’s deep commitment to U.S. nuclear disarmament.

    He fears that New START may not garner the necessary votes in the new Congress. He also realizes that a failure to approve the treaty in the departing Senate could undermine his broader policy to curb nuclear weapons and eventually eliminate them.

    But these concerns shouldn’t trump the newly elected senators’ opportunity to review a significant accord that would be implemented on their watch, as 10 of them noted in a letter to Sen. Harry Reid on Nov. 18. After all, they may decide to take American down a different course.

    The administration acts as if the choice is between New START or nothing. This assumption is fallacious. Some of the treaty’s supporters maintain that criticism of New START stems from partisanship alone and that critics are simply opposed to arms control. Such assumptions are also wrong. The problems with New START are substantive.

    The first principle of arms control is to negotiate from a position of strength. This enduring principle suggests an alternative path to New START.

    First, an alternative treaty should not be tied to the purpose of global nuclear disarmament. As the final report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States cautioned, “The conditions that might make possible the global elimination of nuclear weapons are not present today and their creation would require a fundamental transformation of the world political order.” Indeed, New START is seen as an essential aspect of a disarmament policy that is predicated on the notion that the proper U.S. response to each unwelcome development in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them is to take another step toward U.S. nuclear disarmament.

    Thus, New START is seen as an effective response to the Iranian and North Korean nuclear-missile programs. Yet, New START imposes no constraints on these countries. Indeed, as studies by Baker Spring, The Heritage Foundation’s veteran defense analyst reveal, it may very well increase the likelihood of proliferation and miscalculation.

    Today’s world of emerging new nuclear powers demands a different concept of strategic deterrence than a contradictory combination of the retaliation-based deterrence of the Cold War and President Obama’s commitment to nuclear disarmament policies—enshrined in New START. A throwback to the bipolar world of the Cold War, New START places mutual nuclear threats at the heart of the U.S.-Russia relationship. Worse, it assumes that attempts to defend the United States and its allies with missile defenses against strategic attack are destabilizing. This model is outdated and ill-suited to the emerging nuclear landscape and a world marked by the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.

    A proper alternative to New START begins with a concept of deterrence by denial, which leads to the adoption of a protect-and-defend strategy. This concept of deterrence relies on the federal government seeking to protect and defend the United States and its allies against strategic attacks and convincing would-be adversaries that any attempted attacks will fail to achieve their political and military purposes.

    This approach is more flexible and better matched to reducing the risk of the use of nuclear weapons in a setting in which strategic nuclear weapons have proliferated. Rather than the old Cold War “balance of terror,” this strategy calls for broader strategic postures that are more reliant on conventional armaments (prompt global strike weapons) and strategic defenses, including ballistic missile defenses.

    Notably, the extension of a concept for deterrence that relies more heavily on conventional and defensive systems has the natural effect of creating more room for arms control to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world. This effect is reinforced by the need of states to shift scarce financial resources away from nuclear weapons to conventional and defensive systems.

    This new approach to arms control will reduce the incentive for states to increase the number of strategic nuclear arms. And it will reduce U.S. and Russian reliance on nuclear weapons— ironically, two objectives put forward by the Obama administration.

    Co-authored by Michaela Bendikova.

    Cross-posted at Big Peace.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to There Is an Alternative to New START

    1. Pingback: COACHEP » Blog Archive » News about The Obama Admin Incompetence issue #39

    2. Pingback: Tweets that mention There Is an Alternative to New START | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    3. Alex, Berlin says:

      "Notably, the extension of a concept for deterrence that relies more heavily on conventional and defensive systems has the natural effect of creating more room for arms control to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world."

      Did the author read about the recent NATO meeting in Lisbon in which Russia and NATO attempted to work out an effective missile-defense system? I don't recall this having any affect on the New START Treaty. Or better put, how does a defensive system aimed at Russia, then deter Russia from developing nuclear weapons or, as you have put it, create a "natural effect of creating more room for arms control to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world."

      The New START Treaty just continues a tradition of toning down the nuclear threat across the globe. This article wants to assume that "Obama's" push for the treaty is based on some archaic thought process, when the context behind this author's thinking is that America is still under nuclear threat from other countries. What country in the 21st century is threatening America with nuclear annihilation?

      Yet further contextual necessities missing in this article are Russia's consistent diplomatic 'hard-ball' policies. It doesn't take into consideration Russia's want to expand its sphere of influence in the region to control natural gas; its want to join the World Bank or its angst of NATO in the 21st century.

      This Republican reasoning against the New START Treaty is as flaky and unfounded as their reasoning for not passing the 9/11 First Responders Bill.

    4. ATB2, nyc says:

      Alex – your shaky English is clear enough to reveal the deep incoherence in your argument. The threat is not "nuclear annihilation" but proliferation and thus attack from unstable or rogue regimes/actors. Russia's "wants" for natural resource domination and thus regional hegemony are reasons to revise or void, not support, the proposed treaty. Back to school for you.

    5. Tim AZ says:

      I'm not sure why there is any concern of having any kind of treaty with Russia. The same Russia that has never honored any treaties with the U.S. in the past. We have no choice but to unplug from the mutually assured economic destruction that is taking place as we breath. We most replace it with the old standby mutually assured nuclear destruction. Peace through strength rather then slavery through poverty at the hands of a new world order. More Hope and Change anyone?

    6. Pingback: 33 Minutes

    7. Will S., Illinois says:

      This article could only be made by a person who is willfully ignorant of the Russians. Do you think the Russians can build a successful missile defense network, one that is as good as the US? No. They don't have the money or the technology.

      So, lets say you're Russia, and you see that the US is building a successful missile defense shield. Do you know what that means? It means the US can first strike Russia and then survive Russia's 2nd strike. Which means, the US has nuclear supremacy over everyone else in the globe. Sounds good, especially if Russia meekly decides to give up and call it a day.

      Or, Russia can decide that being under the permanent threat of nuclear attack, without the ability to retaliate, is unacceptable. Then Russia will build a new series of nuclear missiles, ones that are designed to get through the missile defense shield. And, mind you, the missile defense shield is far from perfect and for the foreseeable future, it will be very much far from perfect. Next, Russia, mindful that it cannot rely on easy retaliation, will adopt a more aggressive "launch on warning" approach.

      So: the brilliant plan to rely on missile defenses will lead to great nuclear instability, if Russia acts as they have in the past.

      One final point, do you really think that a President will rely on the missile defenses in a crisis situation? Unless God Himself told the President those defense will work, I doubt that he will act with those defenses in mind.

    8. Pingback: Today in Washington - December 15, 2010 | RedState

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.