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Is the Obama Administration Punting the START Negotiations?

Key START players could be undercutting national security to achieve President Obama's dream of a nuclear free world

3:36 PM, Feb 18, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
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Yesterday Senators Lieberman, Kyl, and McCain delivered a sternly worded letter to General James Jones, urging the president's national security advisor to resist pressure from Moscow to tie conventional missile defense systems into the new START follow-on. The letter came after Ambassador John Beyrle indicated on his U.S. Embassy Moscow blog that, despite claims to the contrary by senior administration officials, missile defense could be included in negotiations to reduce nuclear warheads.

Is the Obama Administration Punting the START Negotiations?

Ellen Tauscher

Consider that with this unusual statement by senior arms control wonk Ellen Tauscher, who recently said: "We have to move from a time of mutually assured destruction to a time of mutually assured stability."

Are Obama's key negotiators disconnected from the realities of disarmament? Mutually assured destruction, a deliberately frightening term that outlived its relevance when the Cold War ended, has little impact on today's multi-polar nuclear world. Further, does Tauscher even understand how deterrence is achieved? To deter aggressive nations, one either has to have a strong, credible nuclear stockpile or a military so powerful that it can compensate for the lack of heavy hitting ICBMs and nuclear bombers. But Obama's key START negotiators are trying to kill both, paradoxically arguing that killing the systems which support deterrence and stability -- missile defense and our nuclear arsenal -- will somehow enhance a deterrence paradigm that has a flawless 60+ year track record. 

This makes little sense. Pragmatic cuts to our nuclear arsenal is one thing, but allowing Moscow to achieve strategic parity with the United States -- while forcing us to drop our missile defense guard against regional states who do not threaten Russia -- is deeply concerning. Reagan mastered the prudent arithmetic of arms control treaties during the 1980s. The Obama administration should draw on his proven example, instead of naive, ideological based talking points which signficantly degrade national strategic security.

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