Saturday, November 20, 2010

START STOPPED?-- It is my experience that strategic arms agreements really do not solve strategic problems, but rather cause a false sense of security. If you recollect GW Bush's abrogation of the 1972 ABM treaty in 2002, you might even make the argument that such treaties inhibit US strategic defense and offensive weapons development.

As President Obama jumps vigorously into the political ring to ratify the START Treaty with Russia in the Senate during the lame-duck session, one wonders why he did not push for approval when had more good will and senators on his side to do the job His recent actions proposing an additional 4 billion to the already 40 billion budgeted for nuclear weapons modernization, indicate that he is prepared to spend considerable political and fiscal capital to make this treaty approval a fact.

The key republican that acts as opposition to the treaty approval is Senator Kyl; he is the front man for the republicans and he was the major force in the abrogation of the ABM treaty. .
The New START will cut long-range deployed nuclear weapons on both sides by up to 30 percent. Kyl's pretext has been getting the administration to come up with a big enough budget to ensure maintenance of the weapons that will remain. Why 40 billion programmed in the budget is insufficient to do this is mystery; Kyl's stance appears as a move either to crush the agreement or provide a stimulus to the US arms industry. In any case the strategic systems involved on both sides are obsolescent and not reliably deployable.

Given the republican effort to diminish Obama's political record in office, it simply may be an attempt to deny him credit for passing the agreement.

The START agreement provides a book keeping system for the dismantlement and destruction of these strategic systems. Neither Russia nor the US are prepared to cripple their nuclear strike forces as both are faced with a teeming Rsd Chinese growing threat. So you figure what the republicans and Kyl are all about.--they destroyed the cornerstone ABM agreement , so there is no jeopardy to a US strategic defense development.

As far as the President's argument on verification with on-site -inspection, there is not much more here than posturing; National Technical Means can handle this if the Russian wish--as far as counting offensive systems, it is really a shell game with the Russian reliance on mobile strategic missiles systems.

Diplomatic embarrassment is factor that will be fallout , because it will demonstrate it is waste of time to negotiate treaties with the US'. After the abrogation of the ABM , the Russians will also take this farce in stride as well--they are making big rubles off charges for US Central Asian transit rights for the US/NATO Afghan war. They will smugly note the US inability to keep its word.

Even in the halcyon days of SALT and the ABM treaty I was sceptical of the disarmament process with the Soviets with its mutual assured destruction doctrine. As it worked out the biggest threat to the US became loose nukes after the collapse of the USSR--until now the Russians have kept the nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands without a treaty. Anyway history and Realpolitik demand that treaties are made to be broken.

If there is is a mutual advantage to the new START treaty ,the Russians will abide by it without senate approval. I am less certain about US intentions under the same circumstances, as there are screwballs in charge of the House-the same gang that marched into Iraq under false pretexts.

Recently I had a drink with an friend who was with me in the 70s in the arms negotiations with the Soviets--he remarked that it seemed what we did at that time was a grand waste of time and energy. I noted that Obama has called on "Hopeless "Henry Kissinger for advice on the new START Treaty. At that we had another drink and laughed. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret


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