President Obama has set the stage for an acrimonious relationship with the newly elected Senators of the 112th Congress. As they come to Washington this week for freshman orientation, his welcome message amounts to: "I want to disenfranchise you."
This unwelcome applies especially to those occupying six new Republican seats in the Senate come January. And it bears most particularly on two issues that will affect U.S. security profoundly over the next six years of these newly minted Senators' terms in office and far beyond: the so-called "New START" Treaty and the repeal of a statute prohibiting homosexuals from serving in the armed forces.
New START is a seriously defective bilateral arms control agreement with the Russians, one that would make dramatic and ill-advised cuts in the number of U.S. strategic weapons and delivery systems. To be ratified, such a treaty needs the affirmative votes of 67 Senators. President Obama believes he may be able to secure those votes if he makes utterly incredible promises to yesterday's Senate, the one now running out the clock in a post-election "lame-duck" session.
Specifically, Mr. Obama is reportedly prepared to pledge to spend nearly $90 billion over the next ten years on long-overdue improvements to the nation's nuclear weapons industrial base. Even if he were committed to such a worthy investment, much of it would be made towards the end of what would be his second term (should he be reelected) or later - hardly a bankable proposition. That is all the more true since the President is determined to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Does anyone really think he will sink vast sums at a time of acute fiscal distress in an enterprise he wants to dismantle, not preserve?
Should Republicans currently in the Senate buy this pig-in-a-poke, they would be denying any opportunity to their newly elected colleagues to learn about, let alone seek improvements to a treaty that: will leave the United States with far fewer nuclear weapons than the Russians (and obsolescent ones, at that); imposes what amount to new constraints on missile defenses and prompt global strike weapons that are conventionally armed; and is, according to the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, outgoing Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, inadequately verifiable.
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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