No on national security

    Just imagine what would happen, politically speaking, if the Senate Democrats ever threatened to block a national-security treaty that had been endorsed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the commander of the U.S. strategic command, the current Secretary of Defense (a holdover from George W. Bush), six former Secretaries of State (including Reagan secretary George Schultz, and Bush II secretary Condoleezza Rice), five former Defense secretaries (including Reagan defense chief Frank Carlucci and Nixon/Ford defense chief James Schlesinger), Bush foreign intelligence adviser Brent Scowcroft, Bush national security adviser Stephen Hadley, and seven former nuclear weapons commanders.Yes, imagine what would happen if the Democrats ever threatened to thwart Senate ratification of a new national-security pact with Russia that basically retrained the framework of the original treaty with the Soviet Union – as negotiated and endorsed during the ’80s by President Reagan, and signed in 1991 by his Republican successor, the senior George Bush.Under this scenario, of course, two things would happen: (a) Conservative heads would explode, and (b) Republicans would be in message overdrive – painting the recalcitrant Democrats as soft on national security, and inspiring their digital foot soldiers to march into the blogosphere with gripes about how wimpy libs hate the military.Yet today it’s the Senate Republicans who are threatening to shelve the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, despite its long Republican pedigree, and in flagrant violation of the overwhelmingly bipartisan support bestowed on its ’91 predecessor, the original START. And, naturally, thanks to the brain-dead Democratic messengers, the party of No is paying no political price for dissing the entire national security establishment.New START – which would stipulate a 30 to 40 percent cut in the strategic nuclear warheads deployed by America and Russia, even as it allocates an unprecedented $80 billion to upgrade our nuclear arsenal – cannot be ratified unless two-thirds of the senators vote Yes. But Jon Kyl, the Republican senator who has been deputized by his party to negotiate with the White House, signaled this week that he intends to drag his feet – thereby ensuring that the pact won’t come up for a Senate vote until next year…when the Republicans will have six new members, and thus new clout to obstruct.Kyl insists that the treaty has “complex and unresolved issues” – an amusing spin, given the fact that the treaty has already been the topic of 21 Senate hearings and four classified briefings, and that the Republicans’ professed concerns (insufficient funds for modernizing our nukes! the treaty won’t allow us to develop a missile defense program!) have been put to rest time and again.In a bid to buy Republican support, the Obama administration has kept ponying up more and more money; at last glance, it has agreed to spend the aforementioned $80 billion for a nuclear arsenal upgrade, plus $100 billion over the next decade to modernize “strategic delivery vehicles.” Yet, with each spending hike, the GOP leaders say it’s not enough. Meanwhile, the chief of the U.S. strategic command, the Joint Chiefs chairman, and the Secretary of Defense have all stressed that New START would not stop America from developing a missile defense system (if we deemed it necessary to build one). Yet the GOP leaders choose not to listen to the very people who are entrusted with defending this country.  Which brings us to the big question: Why is the Party of No apparently so determined to sit on a pact that Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, calls “essential to our future security?” Or, to put it in the rhetorical terms that Republicans would understand, why are they against the military? Why are they so willing to make us less safe, by denying us the opportunity (as negotiated in the treaty) to have nuclear experts in Russia, for the purpose of verifying the arms reductions?You know the answer already. Last weekend, President Obama said that Senate ratification of New START was a “top priority” for his administration. For your typical Republican, those are fightin’ words. Never mind the fact that New START is a top priority for the Republican foreign policy establishment and the entire national security establishment; if it’s a top priority for Obama, ipso facto it must be bad. And, by definition, anything that can be done to weaken Obama politically, and embarrass him (and us) on the world stage, must be good. Even if it means nixing a treaty that Admiral Mullen deems “essential to our national security.”Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican foreign policy maven who helped prep the treaty for ratification, recently warned his colleagues that “Republicans can’t just be the Party of No.” Oh yes they can. With respect to the treaty impasse, this current bunch makes Ronald Reagan look like a pie-eyed peace freak.

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