John Bolton had an interesting op-ed in the New York Times, today, decrying the ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, also known as the New START Treaty. For those of you who forget who John Bolton is, he’s the brilliant international strategist who said that the United Nations should be eliminated . . . right before becoming the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. He also has the world’s coolest mustache. (No, seriously. That’s not a jab. I really, really love that moustache.)
So the article is titled “Why Rush to Cut Nukes?” And immediately I’m thinking this would be some fun dissertation on the security that nuclear warheads provide. For the record, I disagree with the sentiment, but also recognize the historical veracity of the claim and find the argument quite fascinating. However, his sole argument against nuclear disarmament, whose brevity cannot be overstated, is that Russia still has quite a bit more than the United States. He ignores that America’s nuclear weapons are stronger and far more numerous than we could reasonably use, but that’s not an especially damning omission.
No, that would be his arguments against the Senate’s “resolution of ratification” adopted by the Foreign Relations Committee. Evidently, “the Obama administration’s main strategy is likely to emphasize . . . that resolution, which supposedly addresses concerns about missile defense and modernization of the nuclear arsenal.
“The Foreign Relations Committee’s resolution contains various ‘conditions,’ ‘understandings’ and ‘declarations’ holding that New Start doesn’t ‘impose any limitations on the deployment of missile defenses’ or dilute Congress’s aspiration to defend the nation from missile attack. A second understanding exempts conventional weapons systems with a global reach. A third affirms Congress’s commitment to the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear arsenal.”
The problem, according to John Bolton, is that this doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. The language is what the language is, and these are “mere policy statements that attempt to influence future treaty interpretation.”
Fair enough, except, in the next paragraph, he tells us that the President’s “understandings and interpretations of treaties typically have (and should) predominate.”
Got that? So we shouldn’t enact the treaty because the interpretations which Obama has endorsed don’t mean anything, and Obama is free to act upon the treaty in whatever way he chooses. Evidently, the interpretations he endorses are different from those he, you know, endorses. I believe in the world of international diplomacy they call that the “Pants on Fire Colloquy”. Of course, Bolton could be saying that, constitutionally, Obama can’t do what he wants when it means ensuring adequate national defense, but he’s given free reign over all the stuff he wants to do to weaken it. Glad to know.
As an interesting side-bar, the Senate and the President can’t interpret a treaty anyway they want (except when they can), but Bolton is evidently free to do so. He contends, “Its preamble accepts an unspecified ‘interrelationship’ between nuclear weapons and defensive systems. Politically, even if not in treaty language, the Russians get what they want: no significant United States efforts on missile defense.”
By the way, another reason to be fearful of New START’s long term effect on the country’s defense capabilities? “[A future] President can, after all, completely withdraw from a treaty on his own.” Not sure how that proves his case, but I guess if he’s willing to throw me a bone I might as well take it.
Oh, and evidently the Continental Congress of 1789 specifically warned us against nuclear non-proliferation.
To be fair, he thinks the treaty could be amended to make it palatable; but first it needs to eliminate restrictions on nuclear launching devices and Congress should approve the development of additional nuclear warheads.
However, in its current state, this piece of legislation is a travesty of international diplomacy (something which I think we can assume he is very, very familiar with), and “the Senate should heed the will of the voters and either reject the treaty or amend it so that it doesn’t weaken our national defense.” Which is fair. I don’t know about you, but if I heard one more political campaign rant about New START last October I was going to have a fit.
What a complete tool.