Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is This All They've Got?

I think START gives up too much to the Russians, in terms of national missile defense, theater nuclear weapons, and non-nuclear use of strategic launchers. And I'm not convinced that on-the-ground inspectors make up for losing unencrypted telemetry from Russian missile tests to make sure they aren't trying to break out. As a bonus, Russia can't afford to maintain what they have so why rush into a bad treaty?

The bankruptcy of the administration's arguments is clear with Secretary Gates' comments in defense of the treaty:

Without it, he says, money that Republicans want for a modernization of U.S. nuclear weapons is "very much at risk."

The Pentagon chief also says that if the treaty fails it's a "slam-dunk cinch" that the U.S. will know less and less about Russian nuclear programs, because it won't have inspectors on site. ...

Gates also says Russian cooperation on a range of U.S. national security priorities is in jeopardy.

So the administration won't spend money on nuclear weapons upgrades? How is that a consequence of a lack of a treaty as opposed to the administration holding that money hostage?

Inspectors on the ground are the most easily fooled, as we learned in Iraq in the 1990s. I'd rather be reading their missile test data to make sure the Russians are obeying a treaty. A better treaty could take care of this verification issue.

Finally, Russia will stop cooperating on what? How much of a reset do we have if the Russians will stop cooperating with us on other issues? Doesn't this just tell us that the Russians believe that they struck gold with this unbalanced treaty rather than representing good relations that we should reinforce? If our relations are really "reset," Moscow will understand our objections and enter further negotiations to fix them.

These are weak arguments for ratifying the treaty, as far as I'm concerned.

Kill START. Start over.