Michael Crabtree

Research Associate

Cold War Kids: The Truth About the New START Treaty

Ideological diverse yet respected foreign policy experts and high-ranking military officials—Henry Kissinger, George P. Schultz, Richard Burt, Robert Gates Hillary Clinton, and Adm. Mike Mullen—support the New START treaty. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg noted the reason for this phenomenon: “At its core, the debate is not between liberals and conservatives but between those who understand the world of nuclear weapons has changed dramatically and those who still view national security through a pre-9/11, Cold War lens.”

Treaty opponents embrace this Cold War hysteria, imagining a game of international chess that did not stop with the collapse of the Soviet Union. For them, first strike capability, acceptable losses, and thousands of nuclear weapons trained on major population centers have become a way of life. They demand to see negotiation records, hoping to uncover proof of Ivan’s cunning as he stealthily softens up lazy American capitalists for a surprise nuclear strike. Small wonder that those who entertain this skewed fantasy would sacrifice the proven benefits of a strategic arms treaty and bet the house on an unwanted, nonexistent panacea. These neo-Cold Warriors either are incapable of accepting the changes resulting from the end of the Cold War or they seek to return to the heady days of an unfettered nuclear arms race.

Misconceptions About Missile Defense: The Truth About the New START Treaty

As the hearings on the New START Treaty continue in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, support for the treaty has come from many sources, including the United States military. Gen. Kevin Chilton, U.S. Strategic Command Chief and the man responsible for the country's nuclear forces, presented both financial and tactical reasons for ratification. Without the treaty, U.S. insight into Russian nuclear capabilities would be severely limited. Guesstimates would replace concrete Intel, leading to one of two possibilities:

  • Under development: "It will be a security issue." By underestimating Russia's capabilities, the U.S. fails to develop necessary systems.   
  • Over development: "It would be a cost issue." By overestimating, the U.S. could end up pouring money into the development of capabilities that it does not require.

Considering the budgetary quagmire the U.S. is currently faces, we can ill afford an unnecessary and unwarranted spending spree.

Does this treaty endanger America's National Security?

But with a vocal minority up in arms over perceived limitations to missile defense, suspicion abounds that the New START treaty will critically hinder U.S. defenses. Are these concerns warranted? The answer is a resounding no, and it has been reiterated by steady stream of military officials and foreign policy experts from both political parties. During his testimony before the SFRC, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates emphatically noted, "The treaty will not constrain the United States from deploying the most effective missile defenses possible nor impose additional costs or barriers on those defenses."

How Romney Got It Wrong: The Truth About the New START Treaty

Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and failed presidential contender, now sets his sights on the 2012 election. He has decided the best way to secure the nomination is to ramp up the crazy.

Romney took to the Washington Post to decry the New START treaty currently making its way through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Rather then add substantively to the debate, the former governor trotted out the same tired arguments that treaty opponents have been bleating since Senators Kerry and Lugar began hearings over two months ago. From Senator Inhofe and DeMint to the Heritage Foundation, Republicans focused on what they view as a glaring flaw in the treaty, missile defense. They claim the treaty will severely limit the development of a U.S. missile shield, and will signal to hostile powers that America lacks the will to defend itself. There's one problem with these claims: they are flat out wrong.

Romney's argument follows the rich tradition driving the Republican Party right now. The tea-partiers and other fringe groups require a certain level of cocksure militarism. Just look at McCain in 2008, with his impromptu hit song "Bomb Iran" set to the tune of the Beach Boy's "Barbara Ann." It evoked a jingoistic swagger that the Republican base ate up, akin to G.W. strutting on an aircraft carrier in his flight suit and codpiece. After all, what could be the harm in starting a third war with a far better equipped country while still hemorrhaging resources in America's two current wars?