How does that square with this:
Senate Support Builds for Pact on Arms Control
By PETER BAKERWASHINGTON — The Senate moved closer on Monday to approving a new arms control treaty with Russia over the opposition of Republican leaders as lawmakers worked on a side deal to assure skeptics that the arms pact would not inhibit American plans to build missile defense systems.
There are six living secretaries of state from Republican administrations, and every one of them — from Henry Kissinger through Condoleezza Rice — endorses the New Start arms control treaty with Russia. Yet, as of this writing, the treaty is far from assured of support from even the one in four Republican senators needed for ratification.
Why the divergence between the Republican Party’s foreign policy brain trust and its legislators? Hoping to find out, I spent part of the past weekend watching C-Span, notably the impassioned utterances of Jon Kyl of Arizona, the leading treaty opponent. On Sunday, there was a stretch of action that may highlight some differences between the Kyls and Kissingers of the world.
A Republican senator announced that he would vote for the treaty and two others said they were leaning toward it after a closed-door session on classified aspects of the pact. At the same time, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, produced separate legislation that could reassure fellow Republicans worried about the treaty’s impact on missile defense.
By the end of another tumultuous day, treaty backers said they could count more than the two-thirds majority required for approval in votes that could begin as early as Tuesday. The Senate mustered as many as 64 votes in defeating Republican amendments on Monday, just two short of what supporters need for final approval, and three senators who supported one of the amendments have already said they will vote for the treaty in the end.
The momentum building for the treaty came despite the announcements of the two top Senate Republican leaders, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Jon Kyl of Arizona, that they will vote against the treaty, known as New Start. Treaty supporters pressured wavering Republicans on Monday with an appeal by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation’s top military officer, to approve the agreement.
“Ratification of the New Start treaty is vital to U.S. national security,” Admiral Mullen wrote in a letter to the Senate. “Through the trust it engenders, the cuts it requires, and the flexibility it preserves, this treaty enhances our ability to do that which we in the military have been charged to do: protect and defend the citizens of the United States.”
Kyl was complaining that the treaty deals only with strategic nuclear weapons (on long-range bombers, submarines or intercontinental missiles) and not with tactical nukes (the typically lower-yield, shorter-range warheads used to aid conventional forces in battle). One reason this is troubling, according to Kyl, is that Russia is so trigger-happy; whereas America views its nukes as a deterrent, he said, “to the Russians, tactical nuclear weapons are a battlefield weapon, just like artillery.”
Barackey old boy - you should never show your hand so early; if you really want it, the rePubeLickans will be forced to deny it.
The treaty has become the defining final test for President Obama’s legislative agenda before the current Congress adjourns for good. He has called it critical to the relationship with Russia and the fight against the spread of nuclear weapons. Opponents argue that its verification procedures are weak and that it could undermine missile defense.
This sounds way cool to me. Almost as if you are willing to trust the partner with whom you signed the treaty. How original!
The treaty requires the United States and Russia to reduce their nuclear stockpiles so that within seven years of ratification neither deploys more than 1,550 strategic warheads and 700 launchers. It would also require the resumption of on-site inspections that lapsed last December when the original Start treaty expired.
Republican opponents have tried to amend the treaty to fix what they see as flaws, but the White House has rejected that because any change in the text would require the United States and Russia to go back to the negotiating table. Russia weighed in on Monday, warning the Senate not to rewrite the treaty.
“I can only underscore that the strategic nuclear arms treaty, worked out on the strict basis of parity, in our view fully answers to the national interests of Russia and the United States,” Sergey V. Lavrov, the foreign minister, told the Interfax news agency. “It cannot be opened up and become the subject of new negotiations.”
The statement provoked a sharp response from Mr. Kyl. “What’s wrong with that?” he asked of reopening negotiations to improve the treaty. “Unless you think the U.S. Constitution was really stupid to give the Senate a role in this, it doesn’t seem there’s anything wrong with the Senate saying, ‘You’ve got about nine-tenths of it right.’ ”
But the Senate rejected three more such amendments on Monday. One would have tripled the number of inspections. Another would have increased the ceiling on launchers to 720 from 700. The third would have required new negotiations to reduce tactical nuclear weapons within a year. The first two were defeated 64 to 33 and the third 62 to 35.
With that avenue blocked, Mr. McCain was trying to fashion a plan to make clear that Russian objections would not stop American missile defense in Europe. Mr. McCain proposed an amendment to the resolution of ratification that accompanies the treaty, which would not require reopening talks with Russia.
The amendment would state that the United States would fully deploy all four phases of Mr. Obama’s missile defense program by 2020 as he has committed to doing. It would give the president an escape hatch by allowing him to delay the schedule if he reports reasons for delay to the Senate. And it would reaffirm that Russia’s statement against missile defense made at the signing of New Start in April imposed no legal obligation on the United States.
The amendment was co-sponsored by Mr. Kyl and two other Republicans, Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mark Kirk of Illinois. Congressional officials have said Mr. McCain was hoping to find a path to supporting the treaty despite his vocal criticisms, and the amendment could win Mr. Kirk’s vote too.
The White House and Senate Democrats offered no comment on the plan on Monday. But Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democrat leading the fight for the treaty, has been open to reworking the ratification resolution to address Republican concerns.
Even as Mr. McCain’s plan advanced, the treaty was picking up support that could put it over the top. Senator Scott P. Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, emerged from the closed-door session to say he would vote for the treaty. Senators Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Bob Corker of Tennessee also indicated they probably would.
To get the constitutionally required two-thirds majority, the treaty would need support from nine Republicans. Mr. Brown is the fifth Republican to say he will vote yes, and Mr. Gregg and Mr. Corker would make seven. Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia voted for it in committee and appeared likely to vote yes on the floor, and a half-dozen or more other Republicans have said they could support it if their concerns were addressed.Okay. Message to Sen. John Kerry: "They have no shame." You ought to have figured that out some time ago.
The floor debate turned heated at times on Monday. Mr. McConnell accused Mr. Obama of politicizing the treaty by pressing to ratify it before a new Senate takes office in January with five additional Republicans. “Our top concern should be the safety and security of our nation, not some politician’s desire to declare a political victory and host a press conference before the end of the year,” he said.
Mr. Kerry retorted that the treaty had been delayed 13 times at the request of Republicans. “Having accommodated their interests,” he said, “they now come back and turn around and say: ‘Oh, you guys are terrible. You’re bringing this treaty up at the last minute.’ I mean, is there no shame, ever, with respect to the arguments that are made sometimes on the floor of the United States Senate?”