The Global Citizen: Prevent War
The United States Senate agreed to the New START Treaty today. The bilateral nuclear arms treaty passed with bipartisan support by a 71 to 26 margin. Today's rollcall vote came after months of highly partisan debate and despite a packed Senate schedule.
Adoption of this treaty demonstrates a commitment to responsible and cooperative U.S. global engagement. President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and Senators Kerry, Lugar, and Reid deserve special praise for their vision and leadership. New START's approval is also testament to the courageous 13 Republicans who placed national security above obstructive partisan politics.
A November CNN poll noted that 82% of Americans supported ratification. Before the Senate vote, tens of thousands of Americans weighed in. Citizens for Global Solutions National Outreach Director Anu Joshi said, "I want to thank the thousands of Citizens for Global Solutions supporters who called, wrote to and met with their Senators to support ratification of New START. Their voices were a key part of this victory."
If the people will lead, the leaders will follow. The ratification of the new START treaty, without question, was uncertain as recently as one week ago. But because of the indefatigable efforts of us, citizens who stand for global solutions to global challenges, we turned the tide. We moved the mountain. We carried the day.
Imagine what other mountains we're going to move in the months and years to come.
At the heart of the new START treaty stands a Big Idea that can be expressed in a single sentence. When both we and our potential adversaries agree to mutually limit our military muscle and to mutually open ourselves to external inspections, that's better for us, for American national security, than when we insist that we cannot allow our armaments or our sovereignty to be constrained in any way (as the right demagogically demands), and consequently our potential adversaries remain wholly unconstrained as well.
From time to time, it's always good to take a step back and ask ourselves how we can do our jobs better, as individuals and as organizations. That's what the U.S. State Department did this week with the release of its first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, or QDDR. This 242-page document, entitled "Leading Through Civilian Power," assesses what State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are doing right and where there is room for improvement in the areas of diplomacy and development.
In the words of Secretary of State Clinton in her opening letter:
"New actors, good and bad, have the power to shape international affairs like never before. The challenges we face-nuclear proliferation, global pandemics, climate change, terrorism-are more complex than ever."
After 20+ hearings and over 900 questions submitted for the record, we are finally one step closer to a full Senate debate and vote on New START, maybe even starting tomorrow. As Politico told us today: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring the START treaty to the floor as early as Tuesday evening, despite continued protests from senior Republican leadership that the treaty should wait until the next Congress." Senator Reid also threatened (promised) to bring the Senate back after Christmas if they don't get through everything that needs to be done. As a tax payer I have to say that I'm happy to finally see Harry Reid figure out that he needs to protect our national security and that we can't punt this important vote to the next session because we don't want to work late.
December 5th, 2010 marked an unfortunate anniversary for U.S. national security. It has been one year since the previous arms control treaty between the United States and Russia expired, meaning that the U.S. has not been able to inspect the Russian nuclear arsenal since December 2009. We have no boots on the ground, no verification, no way of knowing what's happening with the nuclear weapons that still remain in Russia's possession.
The New START nukes treaty is at a critical make it or break it moment. The administration and Majority Leader Reid are determined to ratify this important disarmament agreement. Senator Reid is going to make the vote happen. Will the right number of Senators acknowledge their responsibilities to keep this country safer and vote for the treaty?
Senator Kyl (R-AZ) stated last Tuesday that he didn't think there was enough time for the Senate to consider New START in the post-election session. Many people reacted by concluding that this was the end of the road for New START. As the logic goes, Senator Kyl is key to unlocking the right number of Republican votes to make the treaty happen. But this gives too much credit to Senator Kyl and fails to recognize that many other Republicans have yet to state their views on the treaty. It presumes that Republican Senators are willing to vote against national security in order to follow the Party's lead.
As posted on the Huffington Post:
Harry, it looks like you defied the odds in Nevada and are going to be in D.C. for another six years. Amen. But winning elections is one thing. If you seriously want to prove that you still have the chops to remain Majority leader in the next Congress, it's time to get serious about finishing the current Congress on a winning consensus-building note.
While there are certainly many important issues on your plate that are far from guaranteed, why not show your true leadership skills? Pass the New START nuclear draw-down treaty. It has strong bipartisan support and is a security no-brainer.
In just a few weeks, it will have been an entire year since President Reagan's START I treaty expired and U.S. inspectors were dismissed from Russian nuclear facilities. Its replacement, New START, allows us to make mutual cuts in our nuclear arsenal alongside Russia under a transparent verification system. It was negotiated in April, debated and voted for in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) over the summer (with the support of three Republican senators), and now awaits a full Senate vote in order to be ratified.
In a speech this morning, President Obama outlined his plans and goals for the next few weeks. He emphasizes the overarching need for non-partisan consensus in order to prevent legislative deadlock. Although the economy has obviously been a critical issue in Tuesday's past election, President Obama also spoke of the need to address foreign policy issues, specifically the Senate ratification of the New START treaty, during the upcoming lame-duck session. Please read the President's remarks below:
"THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. I just want to make a few quick remarks to expand on some things that I said yesterday. Obviously Tuesday was a big election. I congratulated the Republicans and consoled some of our Democratic friends about the results, and I think it's clear that the voters sent a message, which is they want us to focus on the economy and jobs and moving this country forward. They're concerned about making sure that taxpayer money is not wasted, and they want to change the tone here in Washington, where the two parties are coming together and focusing on the people's business as opposed to scoring political points.
As posted in the Huffington Post:
My friends at CIVIC just released a new report with findings on the conflicts in northwest Pakistan, particularly the civilian harm occurring on a daily basis that we seldom here about back here in Washington. The group conducted over 160 interviews with war victims, most of whom have never received an apology or help for the losses they've suffered. That's caused a lot of anger on the ground and is crippling the legitimacy of the Pakistani government. With US support funneling into that country and US drone strikes increasing exponentially, this is something we should all be concerned about.
In one interview Mohammed, who lost his young daughter during Pakistani military operations last year tells CIVIC: "In the evening, artillery started raining shells on the mountains...one of the shells landed near us killing my daughter. When it hit it just blew her up into pieces. My other daughter started crying in a hysterical way after seeing her sister killed...she is unable to forget what happened."
As published in the Huffington Post
President Obama, speaking from the Oval Office, told the nation (and the world) that it is time to "turn the page" now that U.S. combat operations have officially ended in Iraq. And while he talked about what we learned from the last "page," the President missed an important part of the Iraq war's lesson. If we learned anything in Iraq, it's that our nation is most successful when we work in close cooperation with other nations as opposed to going at it alone. Our greatest strength is when we convince nations to join together and play by a common set of rules that we are also willing to adhere to.
President Obama correctly told us that:
"...one of the lessons of our effort in Iraq is that American influence around the world is not a function of military force alone. We must use all elements of our power -including our diplomacy, our economic strength, and the power of America's example -to secure our interests and stand by our allies."
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