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Tone Deaf and Flat Out Wrong

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Despite all their highly paid consultants, pollsters, advisers and politicos, the Washington Establishment has a unique, almost uncanny ability, to be completely tone deaf. They are also wrong with stunning regularity. Take, for example, what President Barack Obama considers some of his greatest successes – Obamacare, the so-called stimulus and a hopeful reliance on alternative energy. He’s wrong on each and every one of them.

Now, basking in the light of a post-bin Laden bump in the polls, his administration feels emboldened. The bounce, of course, is related entirely to the killing of Osama bin Laden, not President Obama’s larger, failed foreign policy agenda.

As is often the case, however, the President’s team appears to be misreading their mandate. Last week, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher delivered a speech at the Arms Control Association Annual Meeting at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In the speech, Ms. Tauscher touted the success of the New START Treaty, a severely flawed treaty with Russia that unilaterally weakens America. She then turned to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) intimating ratification would be a priority for the administration.

What is the CTBT? It is a treaty that would permanently prohibit explosive tests of nuclear weapons by the United States. That may sound fine, until you realize such a restriction would jeopardize America’s vital national security interests by undermining our nuclear deterrent.

By running against our national interest, it does not meet the basic standards of a good arms control agreement. If an agreement is not in the national interest, it cannot be successful. That, among many additional reasons, is why the Senate wisely voted to reject ratification in October 1999.

Yet, Ms. Tauscher believes, “we have a strong case for Treaty ratification. In the coming months, we will build upon and flesh out these core arguments.” Ratifying CTBT, Ms. Tauscher argued, would “strengthen our leverage with the international community to pressure defiant regimes like those in Iran and North Korea as they engage in illicit nuclear activities.” The same argument was made during the New START debate. Last March, Ms. Tauscher said if we ratified New START, “the more it calls out people like North Korea and Iran.”

At the time, conservatives argued New START had no impact on Iran and North Korea; indeed, that was a major weakness because it did nothing to stop rogue nations like North Korea and Iran from continuing to develop nuclear weapons that could reach our shores. Nothing in their recent histories suggests America’s ratification of the CTBT would persuade Iran and North Korea to become honest brokers on the world stage.

Does this administration really believe their post-bin Laden bounce is a mandate to pursue a flawed treaty that has been thoroughly rejected? According to reports, one unnamed official said the administration is “closely consult[ing] with senators before making any choices."

Rather than considering another flawed arms control treaty, Congress should spend its time on the most important priority: Enacting policies that will lead to economic growth and jobs creation.

The same NYT/CBS poll notes the post-bin Laden “good will toward Mr. Obama did not extend to his economic policies.” In fact, his approval on handling the economy dropped 4 points to 34 percent, the lowest in his presidency.

Cutting spending, reforming entitlements, rolling back regulations and increasing domestic energy production would be a good start towards economic growth. Unfortunately, for an administration that sees the federal government and international organizations as the solution, such an approach is a complete anathema.

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