Archive for August 13, 2010
An Iowan Calls out Heritage Action on its Deception
by Paul Deaton
is important that Blog for Iowa be a voice to counter the claims of a
group that would Stop START without regard for the dangers such an
action would present to our country.”
If we read the Heritage Action for America Issue Brief for the New START Treaty, one finds it filled with misleading information. As citizens who care about the nuclear disarmament and United States national security, it is important that Blog for Iowa be a voice to counter the claims of a group that would Stop START without regard for the dangers such an action would present to our country.
Point by point:
HA: “Russian President Medvedev seems to believe the treaty will limit future improvements in our missile defense systems. If so, the treaty will have negotiated away America’s ability to protect itself by handing the Russians veto authority over our national security policy.”
PD: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and other spokespeople throughout the administration have indicated that there is no restriction on missile defense systems. The source of HA's belief about what Russian President Medvedev “seems to believe” in unclear.
HA: “The treaty ignores the dual threats of Iran and North Korea; gives Russia nuclear superiority over the U.S., potentially fostering a Russia-China arms race; and ignores deterrence of future proliferation.”
PD: The New START treaty is by and between the United States and the Russian Federation. Of course it does not address Iran and North Korea, nor should it. The issue of Iran is being dealt with through its non-compliance with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty with use of diplomacy and sanctions. With every step the world takes towards nuclear non-proliferation, North Korea becomes increasingly isolated.
Russia (and the former Soviet Union) has had nuclear superiority over the United States, in terms of total weapons, all along. The START Treaty specifies the quantity of deployed weapons to be at parity. The treaty changes nothing here.
As far as a Russia-China arms race, the idea of further escalation in Russia is ludicrous as they are having financial trouble in maintaining the nuclear arsenal they have. China is all about China. There would be no benefit to China to grow their nuclear arsenal, as they are party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. What is especially true is that the United States and its allies are tied to China as trade partners and this too serves to encourage nuclear non-proliferation.
HA:”Now, (President Obama's) administration is refusing to share key negotiating records with Senators, who want to make certain the treaty protects American security and sovereignty.”
PD: I have negotiated many contracts, and regardless of what was said during the negotiations, the final, signed document is what matters, should a contract be pulled out for enforcement of the terms. Now that the Russian and United States Presidents have signed the treaty, that document becomes binding and what went on in the negotiations becomes moot.
HA: “The Administration must address concerns over language embedded in the treaty that may prevent essential modernization activities, which would produce a more safe, reliable and appropriate nuclear deterrence in the 21st century.”
PD: The defense establishment, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have both indicated that the needs of modernization of our nuclear complex are met by the Administration's budget proposal. Truth is that many in the peace activism community are stunned that President Obama has proven to be such a hawk regarding modernization of the nuclear complex. The concerns to which HA refers are concerns of a small minority of Senators.
HA: “The treaty may unintentionally limit our conventional weapons capability.”
PD: This comment is about pork. Some senators have inquired about changing out some of the nuclear warheads in missile silos for conventional weapons. In the first place, people who understand operation of missile silos also understand that the preference of the military would be to replace antiquated missile silos rather than re-furbish them. Secondly, it is unclear where such a new weapons systems would fit into our strategic defense. Senators don't want to lose jobs in their state should nuclear weapons be phased out completely. There is nothing unintentional in the terms and conditions of the New START Treaty. If jobs are lost with the phasing out of nuclear weapons, then the government should enjoy the savings.
HA: “What's the rush?”
PD: Every day that goes by since START expired on December 9 represents another day where the United States has not had visibility into the Russian nuclear complex. This is a matter of national security insofar as maintaining a reliable deterrence. A more appropriate question is why wait on national security? HA would rather delay, and obfuscate.
As a blogger in Iowa, the author can't compete with the well financed minions of Heritage Action. For every hour I spend writing about this, they have a person at the ready with talking points. At the same time, these points need vetting and that is something the corporate media is wont to do.
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail Paul
Iowans Should Support New START
by Paul Deaton
not about ratification. According to the State Department press
conference, we are confident about ratification. It is about a
verification process for the Russian nuclear program and the related
national security concerns. So what's the worry?”
In the author's post on New START last week, he said, “Regrettably, New START has also become a political football in the United States Senate, escalated in importance far beyond the modest nuclear weapons reductions it proposes.” In her usual, confident manner, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the importance of Senate ratification of New START in a press conference last Wednesday.
During the press conference, Bob Burns of the Associated Press asked Clinton, “Madam Secretary, you mentioned there’s bipartisan support for the treaty. Senator Lugar, as far as I know, is the only Republican who has publicly said he supports the treaty. I may be wrong; if you could correct that if I’m wrong? And secondly, do you believe that the holdouts thus far are basing their position on election politics rather than the merits of the treaty?”
Clinton asked Assistant Secretary – Bureau of Legislative Affairs, Richard Verma to respond. Said Verma, “We’ve had excellent communications with, I’d say, all hundred members of the Senate thus far and really constructive discussions with staff, with senators on both sides of the aisle. The hearings have been very thorough, very thoughtful. The questions have not had a partisan edge to them. They’ve been very probing. And frankly, we’ve been very pleased with the process. It gives us hope for not only the committee vote, but for action on the floor in the fall.”
Burns followed up, “But there are additional (inaudible) who told you they will support it? Is that what you said?”
Verma: “Well, I think as we get closer, we would look forward to additional members coming out in – for support of the treaty.”
At times like this, I wonder about the view we have from Iowa.
According to Clinton, “This treaty will provide for inspections that the United States would not otherwise be able to hold. For 15 years, START provided us access to monitor and inspect Russia’s nuclear arsenal. START, as you know, expired last December. It, therefore, has been more than eight months since we have had inspectors on the ground in Russia. This is a critical point. Opposing ratification means opposing the inspections that provide us a vital window into Russia’s arsenal. This treaty in no way does or will constrain our ability to modernize our nuclear enterprise or develop and deploy the most effective missile defenses for the sake of our security and for our allies, friends, and partners.”
It's not about ratification or politics. According to the State Department press conference, we are confident about ratification. It is about a verification process for the Russian nuclear program and the related national security concerns. So what's the worry?
Initiatives like the New START Treaty don't occur in a vacuum in Washington. According to Maggie Piggott of Heritage Action for America, a political action organization recently spun off from the conservative Heritage Foundation, “The team at Heritage Action is working to make sure all Senators realize this treaty is a threat to missile defense and would hurt our national security.” Heritage Action is well financed and working aggressively to stop ratification of the New START Treaty.
Recently, Mitt Romney shilled for the group, denouncing the treaty as “Obama's worst foreign policy mistake.” Like many critics of all things Obama, Mitt Romney and Heritage Action are focused on New START as a wedge issue to cast doubt on a president they seek to turn out of office in 2012.
If we cautiously arrive at “truth” in Washington, and truth is obfuscated by the editorial policies of corporate media, then Iowans need to turn to what we know. What we know is that Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and other presidential hopefuls spent a lot of time with us in 2007. In dozens of town hall meetings in Iowa and New Hampshire, they answered questions and we vetted them on issues that are important to us. In some cases, with nuclear non-proliferation particularly, we influenced their policy.
Despite what we hear from Heritage Action or from the corporate media, Iowans can have faith in what these leaders say regarding nuclear non-proliferation, because in a real sense they represent what we said was important to us in 2007. Things have not changed that much. From the perspective of the New START Treaty, what is important to know is that Senator Tom Harkin supports it, and Senator Chuck Grassley is “undecided.”
Senator Kerry has the votes to move the treaty out of committee, so make sure you write the Iowa Senators to urge them to vote for ratification of the New START Treaty when it is considered by the full senate. As Secretary Clinton said this week, it is a matter of national security.
~Paul Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail Paul Deaton