The editors at National Review Online are the latest to back-up Mitt Romney on his op-ed about the failures of the New START treaty. They join former Senator Jim Talent in putting up a very strong defense for Mitt. In fact the wording of the editorial is so focused on Governor Romney’s criticisms of New START it shows it is meant more to prove that Romney is right rather than proving that New Start is wrong, but it accomplishes both at the same time. Romney’s name is mentioned in 8 of the 10 paragraphs in the editorial. Their back-up evidence points are the clearest yet that I’ve read.
It is a great thing to have such a largely read website like NRO coming to bat for Mitt. An unsourced claim on Wikipedia says, “The website receives about one million hits per day—more than all other conservative-magazine websites combined.” (The “dead tree” version has a bi-weekly of 190,000. It is also well known that the website’s editor Kathryn Jean Lopez (affectionately know as K-Lo) is a big fan of Mitt Romney and she was highly vocal proponent of his 2008 presidential bid. You can see from this magazine cover image that the National Review Magazine also endorsed Mitt in 2008. Should Governor Romney run in 2012 I think it’s almost certain that highly valuable endorsement will be coming his way again.
Some sneak peaks from the NRO editorial :
New Start: Romney Is Right
Mitt Romney caused a furor last week when he wrote a Washington Post op-ed opposing the New Start treaty. Democrats and liberal commentators rushed to accuse Romney of bad-faith politics, of ignorance, and of a dangerous extremism. He’ll never get into the Council on Foreign Relations now.
The squealing is a sign that Romney hit his target: New Start is a bad deal for the United States, and the Senate should send the administration back to the negotiating table.
Romney pointed out that the linkage in the preamble of the treaty between strategic offensive weapons and missile defenses could limit our defenses. His critics scoff, It’s just a meaningless preamble. They should tell that to the Russians. The Russians believe that if we increase our strategic defenses, we are in violation of the treaty and that they will be justified in withdrawing from it. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said, “Linkage to missile defense is clearly spelled out in the accord and is legally binding.” Members of the Duma have said the same thing.
This gets to the crux of the matter: The treaty imposes a mutually agreed upon ceiling (in theory) on both sides, but it forces new reductions only from us. For those in thrall to arms-control theology, this is the product of brilliant negotiation. For anyone who can truly calculate our interests, it’s a travesty. All honor to Mitt Romney for setting out the case against the treaty so cogently. We hope Senate Republicans are listening.
Read the whole editorial at NRO.
Unrelated side-note: Bill Maher (shudder) would “bet the house” that Romney will win the GOP nomination in 2012 and has even odds of beating Obama. (source)
UPDATE by Jayde: From Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC blog today:
New START is a non-starter
President Obama’s New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New-START) with Russia could be his worst foreign policy mistake yet.
The treaty would give Russia an even greater advantage in its total number of nuclear weapons. It calls for restraints and reductions on us that would not have to be matched by the Russians. And inexplicably, it limits our ability to deploy an effective missile defense system. As such, it fails to address the looming threats posed by Iranian and North Korean nuclear proliferation.
By all indications, the Obama administration has been badly out-negotiated, as noted yesterday by the National Review. Perhaps the President’s eagerness for global disarmament led his team to accede to Russia’s demands, or perhaps it led to a document that was less than carefully drafted.
Whatever the reason for the treaty’s failings, it must not be ratified: The security of the United States is at stake.
Read more here.
From The Atlantic (Chris Good):
Romney has built his foreign-policy ideology on the notion of American greatness and exceptionalism, interwoven with a hawkish national-security approach; that’s the foreign-policy niche he carved for himself while running for president in 2008 with business and management credentials as his main selling point. The treaty with Russia, and the notion that it proves Obama’s foreign-policy weakness, seems to be the chosen point of entry into foreign policy debate for Romney this year.
UPDATE 2 from Jayde: Baker Spring from the Heritage Foundation spoke with Josh Rogin from FP(Foreign Policy) today (714/10):
[...]On START, Romney is clear in what he wants to happen. “Whatever the reason for the treaty’s failings, it must not be ratified: The security of the United States is at stake,” he said.
That position is shared by his ideological cohorts at the Heritage Foundation, who are starting a nationwide anti-ratification grassroots effort via their new 501c4 group, Heritage Action for America. Romney has been working with this group.
[Spring] …think[s] the article signals a theme that many Republicans will now use to oppose not only START, but other arms-control initiatives the Obama team has plans to push forward.
“There’s now, in play, two fundamentally different views regarding arms controls in the post-Cold War world,” Spring said. “The question, simply and straight forwardly, is: Is the U.S. going to fashion an arms control policy based on at least the possibility if not the likelihood of a proliferated environment? Or is it going to go back to essentially the tried and true verities of Cold War-style, retaliation-based deterrence as a defining mechanism for what arms controls should obtain, as a fundamental goal?”
Spring acknowledges that his and Romney’s views differ from those of most leading Senate Republicans, including Jon Kyl, R-AZ, and John McCain, R-AZ, two key GOP voices on START. Both Kyl and McCain are keeping their powder dry, bargaining for concessions on missile defense and nuclear modernization before they will say which way they intend to vote.
According to The Hill, Kyl and Vice President Joseph Biden are in negotiations over the treaty now.
Spring says that the basic positions of the two camps of Republicans are the same, but that senators are holding their fire as part of their strategy to get the most concessions possible.
“When you look at the Kyls and McCains of the world, I don’t think there’s at this point in time much difference between their position and where [South Carolina Sen. Jim] DeMint and Romney will be. I think that’s a simple matter of legislative tactics,” said Spring.
Senate sources said that various senators are preparing two types of measures that could impact the START debate, whenever it does get to the Senate floor. One type, an amendment to the resolution ratifying the treaty, would, if passed, force the document to go back to the Russians for another round of negotiations. That could be a ratification killer in a practical sense, by overcomplicating the process until it loses steam.
Another, less controversial way to express concerns would be a statement of reservation that a senator could try to tack on to the treaty. This could allow the GOP to air its complaints while still allowing ratification to go forward.
What’s clear is that the Obama administration is working the GOP caucus hard to try to firm up the eight to 10 votes they will need to reach the 67-vote threshold. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Sen. Bob Corker, R-TN, Tuesday and Defense Secretary Robert Gates went to talk with GOP senators about START as well.
Read more here.