The Global Citizen: Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)
It was a bad and sad day for Indiana on Tuesday.
Senator Richard Lugar not only lost in the Republican primary; Tea Party extremists did their best to humiliate America's finest public servant. A few even trespassed onto the senator's farm and put up the obnoxious "Retire Lugar" campaign signs that popped up like weeds across our state this spring.
Through his work on the school board and as Indianapolis mayor, Lugar set the stage for the remaking of the Indiana capital city into a major, world class city. As senator, he made Indiana a better state, but also globally important.
As an Indiana Republican, Senator Lugar made the party a powerhouse, but often saved the GOP from its worst excesses. The man once known as Nixon's favorite mayor was now deemed too moderate for a strong majority of Indiana Republicans.
Here is what some other, more graceful, Hoosiers posted on facebook on Tuesday night:
Kiel, Terre Haute, IN: Thanks for 36 years of representing Indiana well on a global stage, helping end apartheid and all of that.
Gabe, Columbus, IN: Lugar stood up to the hawks in the Reagan administration to demand the President break with the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines.
Dave, Indianapolis, IN: Sad day for the hungry, a sad day for our nation. Democracy is about talking with one another, not shouting at others.
Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana lost his Republican primary yesterday to Tea Party backed conservative Richard Mourdock, after more than 35 years in the Senate. His defeat is not just a defeat for Lugar and his supporters, but a defeat for American national security and indeed the entire world. In the words of fellow Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Senator John Kerry, "It will soon almost sound cliché to say that America is safer today because of Dick Lugar's 36 years of service in the Senate, but it really does bear repeating."
Lugar's challenger, Richard Mourdock, said in his victory speech, that his campaign was about ideas for the future of both the Republican Party and our nation as a whole. Unfortunately, Mourdock's win is part of a disturbing pattern of election victories for Tea Party ideas, of unilateralists over more moderate, internationally minded Republicans.
Longtime CGS activist Tad Daley will appear on C-SPAN BOOK TV at 3 AM, 8:30 AM, and 4 PM EDT Sunday, October 9th. He'll be talking about his book APOCALYPSE NEVER: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon Free World, and laying out his plan for abolishing nuclear weapons before they abolish us. Tad spoke at Busboys and Poets in Washington DC on August 9th, 2011, the 66th anniversary of the atomic obliteration of Nagasaki, in an event sponsored by Citizens for Global Solutions, Peace Action, and Progressive Democrats of America.
Getting two-thirds of the Senate to agree on anything is a daunting task. So it was no small feat when the Senate approved New START, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, during its December lame duck session. New START was the first major international agreement passed by the Senate since the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1997.
The United States is a bit schizophrenic when it comes to treaties. The U.S. government does a great job negotiating them. From the International Criminal Court to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, U.S. diplomats have forged very constructive compromises on major human rights and security agreements. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate has a history of letting these accords molder. The Senate and the White House still have a long list of treaties that are overdue for ratification.
Much can be learned from the successful passage of this treaty. Here are seven lessons for policymakers to consider as they move forward.
With the new year beginning, this is the time when Citizens for Global Solutions would normally prepare our Congressional Report Card to rate members of Congress on global issue. The CGS Report Card analyzes voting records on issues ranging from genocide prevention to nuclear nonproliferation to funding for the international affairs budget.
But this year, we’ve come to the sad conclusion that there isn’t going to be a Report Card. Why not? Because Congress didn’t do enough on record last year to warrant one.
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.
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.
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