Before Republican senators vote down the strategic arms reduction treaty negotiated by the Obama administration, they should think long and hard about the consequences.
In substance, New START has none of the historic significance of Richard Nixon's SALT I or ABM treaty, or Jimmy Carter's SALT II, or Ronald Reagan's INF treaty removing all intermediate-range missiles from Europe, or the strategic arms reductions treaties negotiated by George Bush I and Bush II.
The latter cut U.S. and Russian arsenals from 10,000-12,000 nuclear warheads targeted on each nation to 2,000 -- a huge cut.
If Republicans could back those treaties, what is the case for rejecting New START? Barack Obama's treaty reduces strategic warheads by 450, leaving each side 1,550.
Is this not enough to deter when we consider what the Chernobyl disaster did to the Soviet Union and what the knockdown of two buildings in New York has done to this country? Ten hydrogen bombs on the United States or Russia could set us back decades, let alone 1,000.
Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona is holding up the treaty until he gets more assurances that the administration will do the tests and upgrades necessary to maintain the reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons. He should receive those assurances.
Maintaining the credibility of the U.S. deterrent is a vital national interest. But does this justify holding the treaty hostage?
Without a treaty, we lose our right and our ways and means to verify that Russia is carrying out the terms of arms treaties already agreed upon.
How does leaving the United States in the dark about who is doing what with Moscow's nuclear weapons enhance our security?
Not only are our allies behind this treaty -- as are Republican secretaries of state and defense and ex-national security advisers -- so, too, is the Pentagon.
If the joint chiefs say this treaty is good for America, what do the reluctant Republican senators believe is wrong with it? Have they considered the impact of the treaty's defeat on Russia?
In Russia today, there is a widespread belief that when the Soviet Union gave up its global empire, allowed itself to be split apart into 15 nations and brought the Red Army home from Europe, America exploited her weakness by moving NATO onto her front porch.
We brought the Baltic states, all former republics of the USSR, into an alliance aimed against Russia. George W. Bush sought to bring in Ukraine and Georgia, thereby surrounding a Russia that had sought our friendship with U.S. power.