A group of foreign policy establishment Republicans appear to be wavering on President Obama's unnecessary and wrongheaded new START treaty with Moscow. Some, like Colin Powell and Condi Rice, are voicing outright support for it, while others, like McCain and Voinovich are creeping closer. Even the skeptical Jon Kyl has begun a serious rhetorical climb-down -- now apparently linking Senate action on the expiring tax cuts to saving the treaty. If you don't have time to read John Bolton's thorough, eight-point case against the agreement (yes, I've linked it about half a dozen times because it's that good), the Center for Security Policy has produced a condensed -- and helpfully interactive -- video primer on new START, focusing primarily on whom the treaty benefits. Hint: it's not us.
The entire five-nation briefing takes less than 15 minutes to watch, so I highly recommend it. Meanwhile, five former Republican Secretaries of State have signed an Op/Ed in today's Washington Post hailing the treaty as a "modest and appropriate" measure, and urging the Senate to ratify it, although they hedge on the timing:
We do not make a recommendation about the exact timing of a Senate ratification vote. That is a matter for the administration and Senate leaders. The most important thing is to have bipartisan support for the treaty, as previous nuclear arms treaties did.
Although each of us had initial questions about New START, administration officials have provided reasonable answers. We believe there are compelling reasons Republicans should support ratification.
The authors argue that new START will not limit our missile defense capabilities, or slow the advancement thereof:
[The treaty] preserves our ability to deploy effective missile defenses. The testimonies of our military commanders and civilian leaders make clear that the treaty does not limit U.S. missile defense plans.
That's fine analysis based on the American reading of new START, but Moscow -- also known as the other signatory to the treaty -- disagrees.
Russia will have the right to exit the accord if “the U.S.’s build-up of its missile defense strategic potential in numbers and quality begins to considerably affect the efficiency of Russian strategic nuclear forces,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow today.
In other words, the two nations signing the accord have divergent interpretations of one of its key points. That's a problem. So is this: As we reported earlier this week, the Obama administration has been caught lying to Congress about secret missile defense negotiations with Russia. It seems logical that responsible senators would want to get to the bottom of that "miscommunication" before signing off on any related international treaty. Toss in this nasty little maneuver by Moscow, and it becomes fairly clear that rushing to prematurely ratify this disarmament agreement, with this particular "ally," would be foolish. This process can wait for the next Congress.
UPDATE: Heritage's James Carafano assembles his own "just say no" top ten list.