President Obama must be frantic. Among his most important personal and political priorities is ridding the world of nuclear weapons. Toward that end, he wants the U.S. Senate to rubber-stamp a seriously defective bilateral strategic arms control accord with Russia by which he hopes to set an example for other nuclear powers to disarm.
This so-called "New START" Treaty was in trouble even before it became clear that the window for Senate approval would be the short, post-election lame-duck session. The expected influx next year of conservative Republicans-- to say nothing of the prospect that one of them, Sharon Angle, may replace the Majority Leader Harry Reid, let alone the possibility that Mr. Reid's party may no longer be in the majority after November 2-- all but ensures New START will face even-greater skepticism in the next session of Congress.
Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, the prospects for getting what will soon be yesterday's Senate to go along with his radical disarmament agenda have been seriously diminished in recent days.
There are 41 Republican Senators today and-- thanks to the importance the Framers attached to the Senate's responsibility for providing quality control on international treaties-- just 34 of them can prevent ratification. At least that many, and perhaps virtually all GOP members, can be expected to object to hasty consideration of this particular treaty on three grounds:
New START is unverifiable. The Republican Vice Chairman of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Kit Bond, has written a classified letter to that effect and he summarized its findings in a conversation with me on Secure Freedom Radio last week: "I think the treaty is weak on verification especially compared to previous treaties like START and the INF treaty. We will have much greater trouble determining if Russia is cheating and given Russia's track record, that's a real problem."
New START will afford the Russians a say over our anti-missile defenses. In 2001, President Bush withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that had effectively given them a veto in such matters. A number of Senators have expressed concern that the Kremlin is correct when it asserts that the new accord's preamble and other provisions will effectively hobble once again America's ability to protect its people and allies, even from threats emerging from North Korea and Iran - and that Russia will withdraw from the treaty if that proves not to be the case.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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