The President on START

The President used his weekly remarks to talk about the stalled “START” treaty with Russia. The President, despite being rebuffed by chief Republican negotiator John Kyl, is pressing for a vote by the lame duck Senate, where he will need 67 votes for passage. The President has decided to fight, and his enlisted the foreign policy establishment, including a heavy dose of Republican elder statesmen, to make the case for passage.

“It is a national security imperative that the United States ratify the New Start treaty this year,” said Mr. Obama, flanked by Henry A. Kissinger, James A. Baker III and Brent Scowcroft, all of whom served Republican presidents. “There is no higher national security priority for the lame-duck session of Congress.”

Republican opposition seems to be coming from the neo-con wing of the party, with such stalwarts as John Bolton, Rush Limbaugh and others seeing an opportunity to wound the President politically and revive big spending on a missile shield and an expansion of nuclear arms. Flying in the face of bipartisan support and of strong support from our military, these Republicans also appear to not want a resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue without a military confrontation.

The President cited Ronald Reagan in his remarks, pointing to the “trust but verify” comment made by Reagan with regards to arms control agreements. Mutual inspections of nuclear stockpiles between the U.S. and Russia have been suspended pending the ratification of this agreement. The split between Republicans and the military on this issue is intriguing, and should be a signal that there really is not going to be a lot of bipartisan agreement coming down the pike. From the Washington Post:

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) “essential to our future security.” Retired generals have been so concerned about getting it ratified that some have traveled around the country promoting it.

Seven of eight former commanders of U.S. nuclear forces have urged the Senate to approve the treaty.

What does the military know about this? Not much if you listen to the neocons.

John Bolton, a conservative at the American Enterprise Institute, said that rather than drawing down on its stockpile, the United States should expand it, especially because China is modernizing its own nuclear forces, and Iran and North Korea are developing nuclear programs. He said it was wrong to see the treaty simply through a military prism.

John Bolton is one of the most dangerous cranks in the country, espousing policies that would plunge us into war in several different global hotspots (like Korea and Iran). He apparently now represents mainstream Republican thinking on arms control. Good luck to the President on getting this treaty ratified. He is an underdog in the lame duck session.

Read the Washington Post story here

Read the New York Times story here. .

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3 Responses to The President on START

  1. Jules Gordon says:

    Your Honor,

    John Bolton is a hero of mine. Clear thinker and straight talker, qualities absent from Democratic DNA.

    I think the Russians are smarter than Obama and will bamboozle him to no end. Don’t forget the President is in campaign mode. He’s playing to the votes.

    I believe he’s trying to get NATO to take responsibility for protecting Europe. Not a bad strategy if he can convince them to do it.

    Don’t pass.



  2. Bill Manzi says:


    A couple of quick points about the “clear thinker” John Bolton. He is one of the guys advocating for the Iraq invasion, which strengthened Iran. After that strengthening he now wants to invade Iran. He also seems to want to invade North Korea as well. Apparently all at the same time, and all on borrowed money. He also wants massive NEW spending on defense, including a large increase in nuclear armaments, but he does not favor paying for it, only borrowing the money.

    As far as Obama and the Russians goes he is guided by the military, the advice of foreign policy experts, including many Republicans. Arms control has been a bipartisan matter for years, with Richard Nixon really beginning the effort in this era, and Presidents of both parties striking deals with the Russians. Even Bolton does not argue about the relative merits of the deal, but instead resorts to the inanity that it will have adverse “political” ramifications. Those “political” ramifications are costing us a fortune. Let the Japanese rearm and defend themselves. That will get the attention of the Chines really quickly.



  3. Jules Gordon says:

    Your Honor,

    If you think that (1) Iran started its nuclear development because of the Iraq war then you are mistaken.

    Iran has realized that America and the U.N. will back down every time they attempt to stop their development of atomic weapons.

    Iran laughs in our collective faces

    North Korea laughs in our collective faces for the same reason.

    Would you like to move to Israel and wait for the first nuclear. I will come and Jews will die, Arabs will die, but Iran doesn’t care.

    John Bolton knows this and has the gumption to say his mind.

    You can be anti-war, but the other guys aren’t.



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