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The Party of No and Nuclear Armageddon

I guess we now have a new meaning of the term “nuclear option” and just how much the Republicans are willing to sell out their own country and their own principals for partisan political gain.

The nuclear Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) expired in December 2009. The original START was negotiated by the Reagan administration and was responsible for reducing the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world.

In April 2010, the Obama administration negotiated a new START, which would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world even more. It also signaled a new era of cooperation between Russia and the US, including Russia helping put pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program. The treaty is clearly good for America.

The new treaty has been “endorsed by six former secretaries of state and five former secretaries of defense from both parties; the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; seven former Strategic Command chiefs; national security advisers from both parties, and nearly all former commanders of U.S. nuclear forces.”

Not only that, but the treaty enjoys strong bipartisan support. A new survey from CNN shows that 73% of Americans say the new treaty should be ratified, with only 23% against it. In fact, a breakdown by political affiliation shows a majority supports the treaty, whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, or whether you consider yourself a Liberal, Moderate, or Conservative.

The Obama administration even reached out to Republicans, negotiating with Republican Senator Jon Kyl. Kyl insisted that additional money be spent to modernize our existing nuclear arsenal. The White House offered $40 billion dollars, but he said that wasn’t enough, and asked for an additional $4.1 billion more. The White House said yes, giving him everything he asked for. This is in addition to the $100 billion already allocated to upgrading our nuclear weapons.

So much for Republican claims that they want to balance the budget.

But it was all for naught. Today, Kyl announced that he would block the vote on the treaty. He didn’t even have the decency to inform the Obama administration, who learned about it from the media.

Why would Kyl play Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown? Why would he block a treaty that is so important to our national security, spitting on the legacy of Reagan? Why would he utterly destroy American credibility on the global stage, just when we are starting to regain it? And why would he pretend to negotiate with the Obama administration, and when they give him everything he asked for, then pull the rug out from under the treaty?

The only explanation anyone can come up with is the Republicans refuse to let Obama do anything that can be seen as good. Obama recently declared that ratification of the treaty was his “top priority” for the lame duck session of Congress that opened this week. But the Party of No doesn’t care about our country, about preventing our enemies from obtaining nuclear weapons, or even about our economy. All they care about is partisan advantage.

It makes me sick.

The rest of the world wonders why we put up with this. The French ambassador asks us “Have you been drinking?” To them, the notion that a legislature would hate their president more than they love their country just doesn’t seem plausible. Welcome to America.



  1. Jeff wrote:

    Well written, IK. The START treaty is a very popular legacy from the Reagan administration, one that has led to a more secure and peaceful world. It’s one thing that America should be able to rally around and use to show the world that we are not a war-mongering society. And yet, we have people who are using this as a platform to advance their short-sighted agenda of disrupting presidential progress.

    I think I can predict what will happen next: The block against START will be successful because the Dems don’t want to fight hard and create friction with the GOP; The GOP, including Kyl, will then spout off on every major media outlet, railing against the administration for failing to renew START, thereby threatening the security of our nation. The American people will be beaten over the head with a lie about how Obama wants nuclear holocaust, and will be more willing to vote him out in two years.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink
  2. TJ wrote:

    PatriotSGT, care to tell us that this is something that both parties engage in too?

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 8:29 am | Permalink
  3. *coughliberalspincough*

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 8:57 am | Permalink
  4. Dan wrote:

    This kind of partisan sniping is always short-sighted. It’s just that normally the consequences are not national security.

    The idea that the success of the Republican party is more important than national security or even facts, harks back to Mao and Stalin. Now it’s unfortunately a common (in Europe too) right wing game plan. (I’m sorry, but in the 21st Century industrialized world, this behavior is a specialty of the right wing.)

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink
  5. Dan wrote:

    Jeff, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink
  6. Patricia Andrews wrote:

    DAN, i agree with your insight. I have noted for some time that the current neo-con playbook comes directly from the Lenin idea of “Make everything fail so we can come to power” ploy. I had been hoping that I was overstating the case, but I no longer believe that!

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Permalink
  7. patriotsgt wrote:

    Hey TJ – Political posturing is used by both parties. However, this is Sen Kyl’s version. Here is another Repub Sen take on START.
    Sen Lugar (R) supports it.
    Sen Kyl (R) is against voting on the treaty as it stands now. This is his official (complete) statement:
    “When Majority Leader Harry Reid asked me if I thought the treaty could be considered in the lame duck session, I replied I did not think so given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization. I appreciate the recent effort by the Administration to address some of the issues that we have raised and I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Kerry, DOD, and DOE officials.”

    Now there are, as I remember, from last April when this agreement was signed concerns about the verification process for the Russians along with modernizing our arsenal. We have given up alot to the Russians in the last 2 years including the missile defense shield. We got nothing in return. In fact to get them to approve sanctions against Iran, we basically allow them to contruct for the Iranians the same nuclear faciltities we are opposed to. Now thats ironic.

    In short, if this is political grand standing by Kyl and any other Repub, then voters should deal with them. I would not support their actions if were and it compromises national security. But, if the treaty needs fixing, ie. the verification processes and modernization, then we should applaud the minority for not rubber stamping just to have another “see what I accomplished” campaign bullet. Given other major legislation this admin has constructed, it just might be a good idea to actually read the whole thing first, since it is national security.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink
  8. Dan wrote:

    Patricia, I too tend to hope that my impression is exaggerated. Rather than attribute a malevolent motive to this tactic, I think it’s a result of rationalization and wishful thinking in the service of ideology and tribalism.

    Is there a way to rationalize the plan to remove Obama at ALL costs? Sure there is: as long as you believe that a second Obama term would be SO bad as to be worse than a dysfunctional government for the next two years.

    Sure it’s undemocratic and probably unethical. But if you suffer from psychopathy, you will sleep just fine.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
  9. Patricia Andrews wrote:

    Thanks, Dan — an interesting (and humorous) point!

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink