Cliff May

Nothing in Washington is ever simple so let me mention this complication: Some members of the Senate who are unenthusiastic about New START may be willing to vote for it anyway in the lame duck session. They would do this because Obama has made clear that, in exchange, he will support billions of dollars for the modernization of America's nuclear weapons. They reason that Obama is unlikely to fund and deploy a comprehensive missile defense system no matter what treaties are or are not ratified. If approving New START means losing nothing not already lost on the defensive side, while achieving a goal that could not otherwise be achieved on the offensive side, that's not a bad tradeoff.

The counter to that? The 2010 elections changed the political landscape. Voters, led by the Tea Party, made clear that their elected leaders will listen to them or pay a price. Most Americans want both a reliable and modern weapons arsenal, and defenses against any missiles that might be launched. Right now, we don't have either.

The United States has the technology to win any arms race and to counter all imaginable missile threats. What we do not have are political leaders who agree that, in the 21st century, the best way to promote peace is not for Americans to leave themselves vulnerable -- the Cold War doctrine known as Mutually Assured Destruction or MAD -- but for Americans to use their scientific prowess to render useless the weapons of those hostile to us.

This is a debate in which the Tea Party should participate. Another modest suggestion: Jim DeMint is the senator and Michele Bachmann the representative whom Tea Party members most admire. They should invite the Tea Party to this party.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.