When analyzing the sudden urgency for the ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), we have to look at the pattern of the Obama administration and the tendency to go into full crisis mode to get what they want passed. START is no different, but is it more panic and political to save face and recover political capital lost in a continually unraveling administration?
With the talking points in place courtesy of the AP, including the need to get inspectors on the ground in Russia, and to “trust, but verify” (a must read), we need to go back to Obama stating he has “full trust” in Russian President Dimitry Medvedev as he did in July 2009. Furthermore, Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed that Russia poses no threat to the United States and met with Russian Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov in late September 2010 and reached several agreements:
A joint plan to form two working groups on defense cooperation was agreed, and according to Pentagon sources a large number of activities will be developed including bilateral military exercises and a variety of programs. The agreement will facilitate the annual renewal of a bilateral defense cooperation package, approved by the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Russian Chief of the General Staff, reflecting the findings and recommendations of the joint working group. Serdyukov commented that this framework is being taken seriously by Moscow, not least since it avoids theoretical discussion and concentrates on practical defense assistance, and observed that his visit to Washington will lend “serious impetus to the development of cooperation between the two countries’ defense departments” (Interfax, September 15).
While the Obama administration is now in panic mode, the media continues the battle, but there is a larger issue. These underreported stories from late October and early November prove interesting regarding ratification:
Russia’s State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee has repealed an earlier decision to ratify the latest Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the US after the American Senate made around 30 amendments to the original version.
Among them are clauses stipulating that the treaty does not cover deployment of a US missile defense system, or ballistic missiles with conventional warheads.
“The presidents of Russia and of the US have set the task of synchronizing all procedures concerning the new START treaty. Nevertheless, now we have to speak not only about synchronizing efforts to keep up with the deadlines, but of synchronizing the contents as well,” said Konstantin Kosachev, head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee.
Mikhail Margelov from the Russian Federation Council hopes the current “reset” in the two countries’ relations will not be affected by the latest developments.
“There’s nothing wrong with our relations with the Republican Party,” he said. “All the criticism of the Republicans against [the] START re-agreement, for example, was criticism not against Russian position or Russia’s views against START treaty, but against the position of the democratic government during the negotiations and against Obama. I think ‘reset’ is not in danger.”
So, “reset” is not in jeopardy as being portrayed by Obama, and if the Russians pose no threat to the US, why is the Obama administration manufacturing this crisis for a treaty that appears to still be a work in progress. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the only ones who have problems with the Republicans are the Democrats and Obama, because it surely isn’t the Russians.