The Corner

START the Debate, Stop the Name-Calling

The Left is desperately trying to convince us that Senate ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is inevitable, but, as Henry Sokolski points out, the real debate is only beginning.

The Left has accused the treaty’s opponents of (among other things) suffering from a “bias problem,” implying that the perceived consensus in support of the treaty somehow overrides the value of an honest inquiry into its terms. Others say it is just a matter of the Right’s being politically contrarian, or just not liking arms control.

In fact, there is no consensus on New START. The objections that have been raised in recent weeks by skeptics are numerous, based on extensive experience in arms control and negotiating with the Russians — not to mention concerns about our national security. Indeed, a host of current and former senior policymakers have voiced their reservations about this treaty, including the former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency, Robert R. Monroe, who writes: “Ratification of New START would be a major mistake, immensely damaging to national security.”

Chiefly, experts are troubled that New START will lock America into all the wrong commitments at a time when the threat of nuclear and missile proliferation is actually growing (e.g. Iran), not receding. In addition, New START’s deficiencies include giving a lopsided strategic advantage to Russia, reminiscent of classic Cold War–era geopolitics; constraints on missile defense; and a reduction in the number of inspection visits at Russian sites, relative to revious arms-control agreements.

Now is not the time for tossing around hollow epithets; it is a time for addressing the problems in this treaty that will leave America less secure.

Peter Brookes is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.

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