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Why Now?

Amid Mitch McConnell’s whining [1] about a lack of time and the need for delay, it is worth saying a few words on why consideration of the treaty in the current session was necessary. Especially because the vote will be very close, and ratification will hinge on a handful of votes, it is important to counter the common complaint that the “rush” to ratify has forced otherwise sympathetic Republicans to oppose the treaty. We are not watching the defection of Republicans from the pro-treaty camp on account of procedural issues, but rather the revelation of Republican opposition that was already there. The treaty has not been rushed, but supposing that it had been that would be an exceptionally poor reason to vote down an important arms control treaty. Obviously, most of the people claiming that the treaty has been “rushed” also claim that the treaty is flawed. Since their substantive arguments about the treaty’s “flaws” are very poor, they are taking cover behind a procedural complaint to lend their basically indefensible position some credibility in the eyes of people who haven’t been following the debate very closely. Anti-START Republicans are opponents in search of pretexts, and a procedural argument about the lame-duck session is another one of these.

Once one accepts that the treaty is important for national security, because it re-establishes a needed verification regime, then the sooner verification can resume the better it will be for the U.S. As a delay until next year would have put off the resumption of inspections for many more months, it would have been a bad idea even if the new members of the Senate would have supported the treaty. As we all understand, virtually all of the new Republican Senators would not vote for this treaty in its current form, and their involvement in the ratification debate would make it that much more difficult to approve the treaty. If every largely sympathetic Republican* voted for the treaty this week, the treaty would get 10 Republican votes in this Congress now that Cochran has declared his support. It is still possible that the treaty will fall short later this week. Once the new Congress is seated, three of those votes are automatically gone: Bennett, Voinovich, and Gregg are retiring, and they will be replaced by Senators that are much less likely to support the treaty. As the number of sympathetic Republicans shrinks by three in January, the overall number of Republicans increases by five. That means that the treaty will probably have eight fewer votes than it does now, and there simply aren’t that many votes to lose.

* Lugar, Collins, Snowe, Voinovich, Gregg, Isakson, Murkowski, Corker, and Bennett, plus Cochran

Update: Scott Brown [2] has announced he will support the treaty. Based on his ties with McCain and his skepticism earlier in the year, this was by no means certain. It’s a very good sign for the ratification vote later this week. Corker is also on board [3].

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "Why Now?"

#1 Comment By cfountain72 On December 20, 2010 @ 1:16 pm

Don’t look now, but that esteemed, and ever so objective publication ‘Newsmax’ is leaning on receivers of its threat-o-the-day emails to call Sen. Isakson and demand he change his vote on New START. And I quote…

“Breaking from Newsmax.com
START Gives Russia Tactical Edge, Help STOP It
By Dick Morris & Eileen McGann
The Democratic Congress is trying to pull a fast one.
They are using their lame-duck majority — explicitly rejected by the voters of America — to compromise our national security by ratifying the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
The treaty limits the U.S. missile defenses and the preamble suggests that we would not engage in any new military technologies to thwart nuclear weapons. It also says we cannot convert any of our rockets into interceptors and it locks in about a 10,000-unit tactical nuclear warhead edge for the Russians. It reduces strategic warheads — where there is now rough parity — but not tactical ones where Russia has a huge advantage.
Why should we be rewarding Russia by relieving them of the expense of building new missiles and defense systems?
Had Reagan followed this line of liberal thinking, the Cold War would never have been won. Remember that Russia’s economy is less than one-tenth the size of ours. So the best way to reduce their power is to make them divert spending into the military. That is the best way to accomplish our basic goal: to bring down a Russia increasingly focused on domination and replace it with a democratic nation that lives at peace with the world.
So, please hit the phones and let your senator know how you feel about New START.
The vote on the treaty will take place soon.
Please call your senator in Washington today at 202-224-3121.
I understand several Republican and Democratic senators are still on the fence. If you live in any of these senators’ states, it is particularly important to call them:”

(For point of clarification, I get Newsmax emails mainly to see what is on the minds of movement conservatives. I tell you that if I didn’t have other news/opinion sources, like Am Con Mag, I would swear that Obama was having a menage a trois with Putin and Ahmadenijad, while planning to rain Nuclear Sharia Law on America. What scares me is that a lot of folks take their crap seriously.)

Call your Senator(s) according to your preferences, of course…

Peace be with you.

#2 Comment By cfountain72 On December 20, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

“So the best way to reduce their power is to make them divert spending into the military.”

Ahhh…the beautiful irony. I didn’t expect Dick to be in favor of the US reducing military spending, but I appreciate him making this point, even if he didn’t realize it. ;^)

#3 Comment By stonepony On December 20, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

If this is so great why the rush…

Seems no one wants to answer that question.

The democrats have never had great concern about the secuirty of our nation. They would rather spend the money on food stamps, or hand outs to their green buddies

#4 Comment By stonepony On December 20, 2010 @ 3:13 pm


Reading Am Con Mag, is not really much different than reading TPM. As some who have stumbled upon this site are surprised how the name has no reflection of the content.

#5 Comment By bostondreams On December 20, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

Stonepony obviously did not read the post, as it is explained clearly ‘why now.’ Resistance to the treaty is pure political chicanery, nothing more. The Russians have stated that they are going to refuse to renegotiate. What then?
As to the Democrats and national security, well, a lack of historical understanding is also evident. ‘never had great concern’?
Thomas Jefferson–Barbary Wars, Louisiana Purchase
Andrew Jackson–Indian Fighter, Seized Florida, Prevented Secession
James K Polk–Mexican War
Woodrow Wilson–WWI, invaded the Soviet Union during the revolution
Franklin Delano Roosevelt–WWII
Harry Truman–Korea, end of WWII, Cold War
John F. Kennedy–Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam

All Democrats, and all greatly interested in ‘national security,’ though some might argue that the wars or adventures they engaged in in pursuit of that security were ill-considered. But to claim that ‘the democrats have never had great concern about the security of our nation’ is just silly. Grow up.
Though I will grant that it was Democrats behind that failed venture in 1861…