Defense & National Security

Obama Plays Russian Roulette

Last week President Barack Obama met with former President Bill Clinton for lessons on how to co-opt conservative Republican fiscal policy so the economy can flourish.  And presto hopey change-o, a desperate Obama can take credit for any economic successes—just like Clinton did.

Obama has another opportunity to learn from a successful predecessor today, if only he’ll listen.

A hefty group of President Ronald Reagan’s front line Cold Warriors are stepping up to warn of the folly of the Obama New START nuclear arms treaty.  In a letter (published in full at the link) out today to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), 28 Reagan Era officials announced opposition to the reckless treaty.  HUMAN EVENTS got an advance copy of the letter prior to its release at a press conference later today that will include members of both the House and Senate.

Calling themselves the “New Deterrent Working Group,” the letter’s signatories include:

•    Hon. Edwin Meese, III, Former Counselor the President; Former Attorney General of the United States
•    Amb. John Bolton, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
•    Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Former Director, Strategic Defense Initiative, Former Chief U.S. Negotiator, Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union
•    Hon. Paula DeSutter, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation
•    Judge William P. Clark, Former National Security Advisor to the President
•    Hon. Kathleen Bailey, Former Assistant Director, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

These experienced professionals outline in the letter grave concerns with the Obama agreement, which has, in their view, “myriad defects, of which the following are especially problematic.”

“It is unnecessary and ill-advised for the United States to make the sorts of deep reductions in its strategic forces in order to achieve sharp cuts in those of the Russian Federation. After all, the Kremlin’s strategic systems have not been designed for long service lives. Consequently, the number of deployed Russian strategic intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and long-range, nuclear-capable bombers will drop dramatically, with or without a new arms control agreement,” the letter states.

“Russian sources indicate that, within eight-to-nine years, Russian Federation’s inventory of strategic launchers will have shrunk from approximately 680 launchers today (some of which already are no longer operational) to approximately 270 launchers, simply as a result of the aging of their systems and the pace of their modernization program.  By contrast, the service life of existing U.S. systems extends several decades. In other words, the Russians are going to undergo a substantial contraction in the size of its strategic nuclear arsenal, whether we do or not.”

But there’s much more in Obama’s treaty proposal that reads more like an amateurish 60s Berkeley peacenik surrender offer than a strategic arms treaty of the United States of America.

Through a reduction in launchers the treaty encourages “MIRVing” which is the placement of more nuclear warheads on remaining launchers—historically considered a destabilizing approach.

In addition, the Reagan officials warn, “New START would reduce the survivability and flexibility of our forces, which is exactly the wrong posture to be adopting in the uncertain and dynamic post-Cold War strategic environment. The bipartisan Congressional Strategic Posture Commission concluded that ‘preserving the resilience and survivability of U.S. Forces’ is essential. The very low launcher levels required by New START are at odds with both of those necessary conditions.”

“New START’s low ceilings on launchers and warheads can only create concerns about America’s extended deterrent. Allied nations have privately warned that the United States must not reduce its strategic force levels to numbers so low that they call into question the credibility of the U.S. nuclear umbrella or encourage China to see an opportunity to achieve strategic parity with the United States. Some of those who have long looked to us for security may feel constrained to develop and field their own deterrents—a formula for intensified proliferation.”

If the Senate ratifies New START, America would further agree to limit missile defense.  As Andrew McCarthy points out in his excellent piece on National Review, “Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov issued an unambiguous statement at the time the treaty was signed pronouncing the limitations on U.S. missile defense to be ‘clearly spelled out in the treaty’ and ‘legally binding.'”

Obama claims he didn’t agree to missile defense limitations but the fact that the Russians have publicly stated they believe the agreement does limit missile defense, doesn’t that undermine the notion of an “agreement”?  If the parties to the agreement don’t agree on the content of the agreement, what exactly would the Senate be ratifying?  A disagreement?

Sources tell HUMAN EVENTS the Obama administration is refusing to release the negotiating record to the Senate for clarification of what was discussed or agreed to with the Russians. (perhaps espionage aficionado Julian Assange will have a copy on WikiLeaks). 

Instead, Obama wants to force the treaty through the lame-duck Senate without adequate time for scrutiny.  The Senate has to ratify the treaty to find out what’s in it.


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