New START Mischaracterization and Misdirection
The Obama administration dismisses legitimate concerns about the treaty.
The Obama administration’s effort to garner Senate support for ratification of its New START nuclear treaty has met greater-than-expected resistance. This resistance follows primarily from concerns about the loopholes in the treaty’s limits on forces, its narrow but explicit limits on U.S. missile-defense options and non-nuclear strategic missiles, and its significant weakening of START’s past verification provisions. But it may well be that some of the opposition to New START has as much to do with the administration’s mode of promoting the treaty as it has with substance. Senior members of the administration have contributed to the skepticism by engaging in a pattern of mischaracterization and misdirection while simultaneously being disdainful and dismissive of reasonable treaty concerns identified by knowledgeable commentators.
For example, even before Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed the treaty in April 2010, some U.S. commentators expressed concern that the administration would agree in New START to limits on U.S. missile defense. Russian commentators fanned this flame by claiming frequently that the treaty would indeed limit U.S. defenses. In response, the administration reassured all that there would be no such limits whatsoever; New START was to be a treaty on strategic offensive forces, not on defensive forces. During an April 29 press conference to explain New START, Ellen Tauscher, the under secretary of state for arms control and international security, stated that “the treaty does nothing to constrain missile defenses . . . this treaty is about offensive strategic weapons.” And: “There is no limit or constraint on what the United States can do with its missile defense system.” Further: “There are no constraints to missile defense.”
does this administration ever talk straight on anything?