President Obama has claimed that the Start nuclear disarmament treaty that he negotiated with the Russians is a solid treaty in the best interest of the United States. I would have to question the validity of this claim as the White House is pushing the lame duck Senate to quickly ratify the Start Treaty without the usual in depth studies usually given treaties with such deep and far reaching consequences. Sometime these consequences will not be realized for years, possibly decades, well after the time that changes or precautions could have better prepared and addressed the affects on our national defense and deterrent capabilities. This rush to validate the Start treaty really sparks my curiosity as to exactly what is in this reputed great treaty.
The fact that President Obama and the White House staff have been calling for ratification not because of what is in the treaty, but rather what might be the Russian reaction should Start not gain ratification. President Obama also believes that only with the current heavily Democrat Senate does this treaty have any chance of receiving the 67 needed votes for ratification. President Obama fears that once the new Senate is seated with a more powerful Republican presence, the Start Treaty will die a merciless death. But, would this necessarily be a bad thing?
For the brave and determined, here is the LINK to the State Department reference page to all things Start Treaty. Should you decide to wade through all the diplospeak, I hope you find it as rewarding as did I. In all honesty, much of the specifications, definitions, qualifiers, exceptions, and other things that I’m not sure how to identify, seemed more like writings designed with the intent of evoking sleep mixed with confusion.
Needless to say, while researching the new Start Treaty, I was confronted with a plethora of straight-forward and convoluted arguments both for and against. Most of the arguments against Start gave lists of how the United States was required to make greater or deeper cuts than the Russians and how it would also put an end to any development of missile defense. The arguments in favor fell into two categories. First category claimed that should we not accept this treaty, whether you consider Start to be a fair treaty or an unbalanced treaty favoring the Russians, because to do otherwise would strain relations with the Russians damaging all the work put into the Start Treaty. The other category claimed that those who critical of Start were unreasonable since the United States had a more advanced nuclear arsenal so it is logical that Start would demand more of the United States, thus it is a solid treaty that deserves ratification.
Where I am unable to accurately quantify all the particulars of the new Start Treaty, I can find some other shortcomings of not only this treaty, but any Start Treaty between the United States and Russia. The problem is exactly that it is just a treaty between Russia and the United States. Back in the day, (just love that phrase even more as I get older) the vast majority of the world’s nuclear stockpiles consisted of the arsenals of the United States and Russia. That is no longer the case, and if President Obama remains feckless about the Iranian race to nuclear capability, it is soon to get far far worse. Currently we have China as the new nuclear power muscle up and coming in the world. Should Iran attain nuclear club membership, then the rest of the Muslim World, especially the Gulf Oil States, will all turn nuclear with a rapidity unseen in history. With China beginning to flex some regional muscle and North Korea now found to be chasing nuclear weapons with all urgency on both the uranium and plutonium tracks, nerves and trepidation are soon to be raging in the Far East. This is very likely to push Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, and whoever else has the technical ability to go nuclear and start a vicious arms race that will dwarf the arms race in the middle twentieth century between the United States and the Soviet Union. With the strong possibility of all of Asia, both the Far East and the Near East bursting into virtual flames as every country races to have the top nuclear stockpile in the neighborhood. Even Myanmar, called Burma back in the day, is working on its own nuclear weapons with the assistance of North Korea, the same country assisting Iran and considered the worst of the nuclear proliferators.
If Start is going to be a viable treaty for the reduction, or at least the limitation, of nuclear weapons in the world, then it is going to have to be expanded to include the realities of today, not just continue with 1970’s thinking. For Start to honestly be effective, it will have to be all inclusive of the major nuclear players. This would include adding to the United States and Russia the new members of the nuclear club who have the potential to amass massive stockpiles. This would definitely include China to be immediately included as it will be easier to limit the number of bombs, warheads, ICBM’s, SLBM’s and other nuclear armament related items than it would be to wait and then try to have them destroy weapons already built as that would be seen as an economic attack. Start Treaties that do not include the new and upcoming nuclear club members is no longer a wise or sufficient road to addressing and limiting the numbers of nuclear weapon stockpiles coming into the world. It is far better to limit than to try to force reductions once they exist. No ratification of any Start Treaty that is not all inclusive of those who are members of the nuclear club, and this, in a perfect world, would include Israel, Iran, and any other country suspected to have nuclear weapons. This will not be easy, but it will be easier than waking up one morning to the fact that the United States and Russia have reduced their weapons to a point where they are dwarfed by the stockpiles of China, or even worse, North Korea or Iran or any other player with a high likelihood of using these horrific weapons in a first strike as an offensive weapon, not a defensive weapon. Wake up everyone, there are more players and we cannot continue to ignore this reality.
Beyond the Cusp