Posted on 09-04-2010
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

The United States and Russia signed a new treaty designed to slash nuclear warheads of each country by 30%.  See link.   This leaves  each with about 1,550 warheads, more than enough to create nuclear Armageddon many times over and each will still have more nuclear warheads than those of all the other nuclear powers combined.  This will ratchet up the pressure on other nuclear powers to trim their own stockpiles, which are not cheap to maintain in any case.

The treaty also explicitly gives the countries a free hand with violators of the NPT (Iran and North Korea).  The most controversial part of the treaty is a commitment not to threaten non-nuclear states in compliance with the NPT with with nuclear strikes even in response to chemical and biological attacks.  However, there remains sufficient wiggle room as the treaty does not specify who defines compliance with the NPT and provides the United States the ability to modify its commitment as the chemical and biological threat evolves.  See link.   The biggest importance in the treaty is likely a reduction in the chill in United States and Russian relations over the last couple of years.  See here.

The bellicose John Bolton has not surprisingly already starting barking disapproval on the odd grounds of sovereignty (See here) but one hopes that the party of no (whose support will be needed for ratification) understands the limited scope of the deal.  See here.

It does not help that Fox “News” in its inimitable fashion started characterizing the treaty (and some legitimate concerns) like this:

Former half-term governor Sarah Palin and Mr. 9/11 have started singing praises of Ronald Reagan in marking their opposition to the treaty (ignoring the fact that Reagan signed a similar treaty for a 30% reduction of the nuclear stockpile during the Cold War and (like Obama) set a Utopian goal of a nuclear weapons free world…but why let facts interfere with the random invocation of the GOP’s Reagan mythos).  It brought on the unusually sharp slap down below by the President on the “policy wonk” Palin:

This does raise the question whether the fairly pragmatic Reagan who was not averse to raising taxes if needed or was willing to (gasp) negotiate with the Evil Empire and thru back channels with Iran would have any place in today’s Republican party.  The mythology of the man grew in comparison with George Herbert Walker Bush and when the Republicans lost the White House to Bill Clinton and is now quoted as gospel by empty suits like Giuliani or Palin with little regard for whether their invocation comports to reality.  In today’s radicalized GOP rump, it is not impossible to think that Reagan would run the risk of being labeled a RINO (Republican in Name Only).  It is hard to see how Nixon with his far more moderate social stances and much greater willingness to have the government interfere in the economy would not earn the derisive label.

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