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The GOP's Dangerous Nukes Game

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
November 18, 2010
The Daily Beast

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Cast aside any doubts. There seems to be nothing Republicans won't do to deny President Obama a political success at home—even if it means jeopardizing U.S. national security. Namely, future relations with Russia. To be specific, Republicans, led by Senator Jon Kyl, look as though they are trying to kill the new strategic-arms limitation treaty between Russia and the United States.

Republicans, led by Senator Jon Kyl, look as though they are trying to kill the new strategic arms limitation treaty between Russia and the United States. (AP Photo) Their arguments—against the treaty, which sets lower limits on nuclear arms held by the two nuclear giants and reestablishes critical American inspection rights inside Russia—are totally without merit. That's a charge I hardly ever level because it's so serious. But in this case, it is more than justified. Signed about six months ago, the treaty does not do a great deal to curb nuclear arms on either side. But it is the essential element in efforts by Obama to “reset,” or firm up and increase the benefits of, relations with Russia. To put it simply, Russia can still do us significant harm or good on issues like Iran. And if the White House can't deliver a treaty ratified by at least 67 Senate votes, Moscow will write off the United States. As Obama said on Thursday, passage of the treaty this year is a “national-security imperative.”

That's not idle presidential chatter. His words are backed by the most senior and experienced Americans, Republicans and Democrats, who have worked in the most important positions for presidents of the United States for decades. This star-studded list includes: James A. Baker, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Bill Cohen, William Perry, and on and on. With all due respect, Senator Kyl, your knowledge of national security does not compare well to this roster. Virtually every former top security official, with the exception of Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, back this treaty. That alone should tell you something, everything, about what Kyl is really up to. But as my mother always urged, let's look at the facts.

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