I know that most people don't pay a great deal of attention to arms control treaties. We either find them way too complicated or are just more interested in who wins Dancing with the Stars.
But there's a big reason why people need to pay attention to the START Treaty that the Obama Administration has placed before the Senate. Once the treaty is ratified it will be nearly impossible to change it and there are lots of good reasons why we need to ask important questions about what this treaty really represents and demand answers from the Obama Administration BEFORE the Senate votes on ratification.
Readers will recall that the Obama Administration promised the American people transparency. That's a promise they've had a hard time living up to in the health care debate and the same is true with this arms control agreement. Concerns over what the Obama Administration promised to the Russians, especially where it concerns missile defense, has led some Senators who are charged with the Constitutional duty to "advise and consent" to request the record of negotiation discussions where this and other issues were considered. The Obama Administration has refused to release these records even though there is a precedent for doing so from the Reagan Administration which released negotiating records on earlier arms control treaties with the Soviets after Democrat Senators demanded them.
The truth is we do NOT KNOW what Obama has promised the Russians and unlike the health care bill where Nancy Pelosi said we have to pass the bill to "find out what's in it" any weakness in a treaty of this sort requiring a vote of 2/3rds to pass the Senate isn't easily undone.
Can we just take the Obama Administration's word for it that they haven't sold out missile defense which we need now more than ever with the North Korean and Iranian threats increasing? I don't think so!
The Obama Administration is pushing the Senate to ratify this treaty without delay and there is pressure to vote on it before the newly elected members of the Senate are seated next January. Why the rush? You know the answer... we've seen this pattern before with other legislation and regretted it.
There's no reason to rush this treaty and certainly no vote should be taken until the Obama Administration comes clean with what they have told the Russians behind the scenes! President Reagan used to recite the old Russian proverb: "doveryai, no proveryai" (Доверяй, но проверяй) which translates to "trust but verify." When it comes to Obama, we can't afford to take his word for it!
UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer: Irrelevance of Start!
As usual, Charles Krauthammer nails it. Here's an excerpt of his latest column which addresses this issue:
It's a lame-duck session. Time is running out. Unemployment is high, the economy is dangerously weak and, with five weeks to go, no one knows what tax anyone will be paying on everything from income to dividends to death when the current rates expire Jan. 1. And what is the president demanding that Congress pass as "a top priority"? To what did he devote his latest weekly radio address? Ratification of his New START treaty.
Good grief. Even among national security concerns, New START is way down at the bottom of the list.
The worst thing about this treaty, however, is that it is simply a distraction. It gives the illusion of doing something about nuclear danger by addressing a non-problem, Russia, while doing nothing about the real problem - Iran and North Korea. The utter irrelevance of New START to nuclear safety was dramatically underscored last week by the revelation of that North Korean uranium enrichment plant, built with such sophistication that it left the former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory "stunned." It could become the ultimate proliferation factory. Pyongyang is already a serial proliferator. It has nothing else to sell. Iran, Syria and al-Qaeda have the money to buy.
Iran's Islamic Republic lives to bring down the Great Satan. North Korea, nuclear-armed and in a succession crisis, has just shelled South Korean territory for the first time since the Korean armistice. Obama peddling New START is the guy looking for his wallet under the lamppost because that's where the light is good - even though he lost the wallet on the other side of town.