Episode 1: Mitt’s Hope – In an Op-ed at the Washington post Mitt Romney urges the Senate to vote against ratification of the New START treaty signed by President Obama and President Medveved in April. The Op-ed is entitled Obama’s Worst Foreign-Policy Mistake.
Episode 2: The Lugar Menace – Dick Lugar of the
Galactic US Senate rebuts Romney’s op-ed calling it a hyperbolic attack.
Episode 3: Romney Strikes Back – Mitt Romney provides “further discussion” to Senator Lugar’s thoughtful critique. In this discussion Mitt outlines eight serious problems with the New START treaty. This time NRO is Mitt’s weapon of choice.
1. New START does limit U.S. missile-defense options. First, New START’s preamble not only references missile defense, it accedes to Russia’s insistence that there is an interrelationship between strategic offensive weapons and missile defense. While the Bush administration steadfastly refused to accept this Russian position, the Obama administration bows to it. The statement of interrelationship in the preamble, in addition to the specific missile-defense measures in the body of the treaty, amount to a major concession to Russia.
The treaty’s advocates dismiss the preamble reference as non-binding. But the significance of including missile-defense provisions in an offensive-weapons treaty is not lost on either signatory. Further, the Russians assert that the preamble does indeed constitute a binding limit on our missile-defense program, both in their Unilateral Statement and in subsequent public statements. Gen. Yevgeniy Buzinskiy, who served as the chief of the International Treaty Directorate in the Russian Ministry of Defense during the treaty’s negotiations, insists that any increase in our ABM system could be claimed as a breach of the treaty. Such ambiguity and pressure, and fear of being accused of violating the treaty, could strongly restrain American presidents from aggressively developing and deploying missile defense. The 1972 ABM Treaty provides historical precedent for such a chilling effect: Fearful that U.S. theater-missile-defense systems would be viewed as violating the treaty, we pulled back from realizing the full potential of such systems.
Further, the treaty prohibits our conversion of ICBM and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers for the launching of defensive interceptors. Such conversions may well not be part of the Obama administration’s current plans, but they could surely be part of a subsequent administration’s. Past missile-defense agency directors and naval planners have objected to precluding SLBM-launcher conversions, capable as they could be of defending America and our allies from diverse and undisclosed locations. Such conversions were prohibited by the ABM Treaty during the Cold War — a treaty from which we have withdrawn — but the Obama administration is consenting to their renewed prohibition by New START. Under its terms, there could be an average of four or more SLBM tubes on each of our strategic submarines that no longer contain ballistic missiles but may not be converted for defensive interceptors, and so are empty.
The sixth agreed statement of the treaty’s protocol suggests that telemetry data on missiles governed by the treaty is not to be used for strategic-missile-defense purposes. In the long term, agreeing to this limitation could prove to have been very short-sighted.
Finally, treaty analysts at the Heritage Foundation have opined that “the most serious threat to missile defense in the New START treaty is contained in the power given to the Treaty compliance forum, the Bilateral Consultative Commission. . . . Missile defense is directly within the purview of the BCC.” Treaty proponents note that substantive changes to the treaty cannot be made by the BCC. But the BCC can — without Senate advice and consent — make changes to the treaty’s definitions and agreed statements, including those involving missile defense. The treaty Protocol assigns to BCC the defining of missile defense and key terms relating to the conversion of ICBM silos for defensive interceptors. An administration that wished to further limit missile defense without the advice and consent of the Senate could do so through the BCC. In the past, under START I, the JCIC, a body comparable to the BCC, did indeed make substantive changes to that treaty’s terms without Senate consent.
…Will Emperor Obama succeed in his efforts to weaken the USA? Can Mitt Romney defeat Barack Obama in 2012? Tune in next time….
~Nate Gunderson (Thanks, Aaronius for some of the formatting of this post.)
Other episodes in the saga:
Romney’s Op-ed on START Ignites a Flurry of Debate, Support, and Criticism