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Cain and New START

To quash doubts that Cain doesn’t know anything about foreign policy, Cain decided to repeat Romney’s unfounded, false claims about New START (via Uri Friedman):

For example, I would not have welched on America’s commitment to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe because the Russians didn’t like it. The security of the U.S. and our allies would take precedence over the concerns of a nation whose strategic interests are often contrary to ours.

That is one of the reasons I would not have signed the New START treaty, as President Obama did in 2010. Not only did that treaty commit America to arms reductions that the Russians would not necessarily have to match, but it permitted them to maintain a sizable advantage in tactical nuclear weapons, while ignoring programs and ambitions of other nations like Iran, North Korea, China and Pakistan. But more to the point, we simply don’t need to be signing treaties like this with unfriendly countries.

The treaty’s limitations on strategic weapons are the same for both sides: the treaty allows 1,550 deployed weapons for both the U.S. and Russia. The treaty did not address tactical nuclear weapons for the simple reason that no strategic arms limitation or reduction treaty has ever done so. A bilateral treaty with Russia cannot possibly address the nuclear programs of other states. If we assume that Russia is unfriendly, that is all the more reason to negotiate an arms control treaty that permits the U.S. to inspect the Russian arsenal. By negotiating a new arms control agreement with the other major nuclear-weapons state in the world, the U.S. keeps the relationship with Russia from deteriorating, and introduces greater stability and transparency into that relationship. Cain is simply echoing Romney on this issue, and Romney was just echoing the party line when he ignorantly railed against the treaty last year. Romney’s attack on the treaty was correctly dismissed as “shabby, misleading,” and “thoroughly ignorant,” and the same must be said for what Cain says here.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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