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New START, Old Stratagem

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Here we go again. President Obama is trying once again to ram a legislative initiative through Congress knowing full well that, by so doing, he is maximizing the chances that his project's defects will not become widely understood until it is too late to do much about them. Call it the pig-in-a-poke stratagem.

This time around, however, Mr. Obama is not simply trying to socialize the economy, destroy the world's finest health care system or assault the Constitution. No, at the moment he has the national security in his crosshairs - and the negative implications could make those associated with his other, domestic policy campaigns pale by comparison.

Specifically, the President is determined to with "rid the world of nuclear weapons" - and he is intent on securing the U.S. Senate's imprimatur for this truly hare-brained idea. That is the real impetus behind his insistence that senators rubber-stamp during the lame-duck session the so-called "New START" arms control treaty that Mr. Obama signed with his Russian counterpart last April.

You see, the treaty was accompanied by - and is intended to put what amounts to an international seal of approval on - an administration-generated document known as the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The NPR commits the United States to continue on a course that would, all other things being equal, assure the continued atrophying of the American deterrent. For example, it forswears the design and manufacture of any new nuclear weapons; precludes realistic, underground testing of the obsolescing arms in the U.S. arsenal; and pledges to "devalue" the nuclear deterrence mission of those responsible for maintaining and safeguarding the forces designed to perform it.

Now, most senators - like most Americans - have the good sense to think it advisable for the United States to maintain a viable deterrent. As a result, these sorts of proposals would be unlikely to command majority support, let alone the super-majority the Constitution requires to ratify New START.

So, Team Obama is coming up with just about any other rationale to justify its insistence that the Senate vote on the treaty before Christmas. These include claims that the accord will help dissuade would-be proliferators to abandon their nuclear weapons ambitions and the assertion that U.S. international leadership is on the line.

The administration's flacks are particularly insistent that the urgency derives from the fact that, without New START's monitoring arrangements, we won't know what the Russians are up to. They warn darkly that, while bilateral relations with the Kremlin have been productively "reset," the sky will fall if ratification is not forthcoming over the next three weeks.

Like so much of the Obama administration's handiwork, none of these propositions stands up to close scrutiny. As an innovative new video by the Center for Security Policy makes clear, our enemies are emboldened by what they perceive as U.S. weakness, not induced to emulate it. Our leadership is far more likely to be taken seriously if we are seen as providing a credible deterrent than if we are cutting it so deeply as, for instance, to invite China to become a peer superpower. And the Kremlin's denizens cannot be both reliable partners for peace and disposed, as ever, to cheat on treaties and pursue their interests without regard to ours.

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