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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 12/21/2010

After START, when do we stop the one-sided deals?

By Jennifer Rubin

A Capitol Hill guru on START observes that the letter from Adm. Mike Mullen urging ratification of START was inadvertently revealing. Mullen's letter contained this:

"During that process, the Russian Federation publicly declared on several occasions that there should be a ban on placement of conventional warheads on strategic delivery systems. In the end, we agreed that any reentry vehicle (nuclear or non-nuclear-armed) contained on an existing type of ICBM or SLBM would be counted under the central limits of the treaty."

So did we reject the Russians' position on conventional prompt global strike capabilities? Oh, no. Instead, the START critic says that "we decided to compromise on the issue, where the compromise limits the United States but poses no practical limitation on Russia." He lists, via e-mail, other one-sided aspects of the deal:

  • legally binding language on missile defense deployments limiting only the United States and not Russia
  • delivery vehicle limitations requiring unilateral reductions of the United States
  • failing to address at all Russia's 10-to-1 advantage in tactical nuclear weapons, presumably because Russia did not want to talk about that
  • atelemetry regime protecting Russia's ability to develop new missiles without sharing any information about them with us
  • a verification regime that negotiated away our monitoring presence at the Votkinsk missile facility
  • Russia is not prevented from deploying large numbers of land-based MIRVs, which have been described as the most destabilizing nuclear weapon system, and where the United States has announced it will de-MIRV its ICBMs. START II banned land-based MIRVs, but its progeny puts them right back in the Russian arsenal.

And yet Republican opposition to the deal has essentially crumbled. I think the Republicans are foolish to have gone ahead rather than hold out for full consideration in the new Congress. But I understand that it is hard to resist the entreaties of the entire foreign policy establishment and to set up the president to fail.

We should also keep this all in perspective. The treaty, as I and others have argued, is not an earth-shaking matter, especially compared to the real nuclear threats we face from North Korea and Iran. But through the hard bargaining of Sen. Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.) the administration ponied up for weapon modernization and showed some commitment to missile defense programs. In sum, Kyl got more from Obama than the U.S. is getting from Russia.

When this is in the rear-view mirror, it will be time to reassess the Russian-U.S. relationship. We need to examine what are we giving up and what are we getting. Should we press harder on Russian human-rights violations and provide robust assistance to Georgia, which remains occupied? In the new Congress, all of this should be grounds for serious congressional oversight.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 21, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  foreign policy  
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The Right always thinks the sky is falling.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 21, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

we stop having one sided deals when we elect politicians that love America...

Posted by: DwightCollins | December 21, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

This treaty deserved closer scrutiny and should be followed very closely. The left is always anxious to degrade the United States and reduce our defensive capability.

Posted by: rplat | December 21, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Isn't NOW a better time for reassessing the U.S./Russia relationship than when START is in the rear-view mirror? Pressing harder on Russian human-rights violations and/or providing assistance to Georgia won't aleviate any of the problems in your bullet list of START deficiencies.

Posted by: wumhenry | December 21, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

This is a seriously foolish analysis of the treaty, I urge everyone to go check out what "liberals" like Henry Kissinger and James Baker have said about this.

In the meantime, the far right in Russia is screaming bloody murder about the one-sided deal Medvedev signed that let the Americans do whatever they wanted on missile defense. Treaties, as with all negotiated results, must be considered as a whole.

Posted by: Section506 | December 21, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

What do you say Rubin, is McConnell still in control of the Senate? Looks like he can't even make his own Senate Minority caucus follow his own America-hating middle-class destroying agenda.

Maybe next year he'll do better. Oh wait, he'll be the minority in the Senate next year too, thanks to Tea Party candidates like O'Donnell, Angle and Buck!

Posted by: paulflorez | December 21, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

What, we get to keep thousands of nuclear weapons we'll never use, to keep developing missile defence that will never work and the GOP extorted billions for modernizing the arsenal. What more does the right want? Oh I know, they want to make the public think that Democrats hate America and the lie wasn't cemented correctly with this treaty.

Posted by: ThomasFiore | December 21, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

There I was reading this blog, thinking, "Very little in this makes any sense." Clicked on and read Ms. Rubin's bio. Everything instantly became clear.

Posted by: chert | December 21, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Six Republican Secretaries of State and the military leadership of this country do not know the meaning of this treaty or how to keep the US safe. Ms. Rubin knows.

Posted by: turningfool | December 21, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Under pressing circumstances which would require action, I would like to be assured that the President (other than the gutless one-day wonder now in office) would take it upon himself to circumvent ANY undesirable aspect of ANY treaty if the safety of this country was at stake!

Posted by: baltic | December 21, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Well it's really simple; the republicans got all their precious tax cuts extended. Do you think they care about anything else?

Posted by: bigisle | December 21, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Instead of whining about one-sided deals, why don't you Americans abide by the agreement you signed 41 years ago to eradicate your nuclear weapons arsenal.

Yes, remember that one? It's called the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and you promised more than four decades ago to dispose of your nuclear weapons completely.

Have you done it? Not at all. As usual, you Americans break every promise and every treaty, yet you expect other nations to comply to the letter with them and much more in the case of Iran and its perfectly legal nuclear energy program.

No wonder other nations treat you Americans with complete contempt - you can't be trusted to keep your word, but you warmonger and pillage the resources of other nations.

You insist that other nations submit to the International Court of Justice and the War Crimes Tribunal, yet you demand exemption for Americans from these courts.

Guess what? Nobody trusts you and nobody respects you and most nations are just sitting back watching the USA implode slowly into economic disaster.

If you want to get some respect back, try living up to your promises. Comply with the NPT and do what you pledged to do 41 years ago. Submit to the ICJ and WCT in the Hague and let your war criminals go on trial.

No wonder you Americans are petrified of Wikileaks - it's lifting the rocks that you live under.

Posted by: ziggyzap | December 21, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Ideology rots the brain.

Posted by: manv | December 21, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

A "one sided deal" backed enthusiastically by the people who know the most about the topic and processinvolved in implementing START. hmmmm. Bring on a lot more of those please.

Posted by: roboturkey | December 21, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I'd say we were lucky Obonzo didn't have us just give the Russians half of ours and call it even. With idiots like Mullen and Gates behind the deal makes one wonder whether we got anything at all in the deal.

Posted by: GordonShumway | December 21, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Hawaii, Guam, Virgin Islands, and the North American continent still remain occupied as well as Iraq and Afghanistan plus our new missile bases in Eastern Europe are bases aren't they? and our Georgia too is occupied of course.

Posted by: Wildthing1 | December 21, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

The Russians will always be focused on nuclear weapons as the equalizer with China, which has 10 times their population and which covets a lot of their land. For that reason, Russia will always be proficient in nuclear technology and will have a strong incentive to focus their resources on this - more so than the USA, which faces a wider range of threats, thanks to radical Islam. If START restrains them, that’s all to the good, because Russia could actually come out on top in a renewed arms race where nuclear weapons are the one thing they would be investing in. Let’s not forget that since Sputnik and the 60 megaton “king of bombs”, they have been world leaders in rockets and nuclear weapons.

Besides, the USA needs Russian cooperation in non-proliferation and in securing nuclear materials. Never forget that Al Qaeda’s dream is to detonate a nuclear weapon in a major US city as soon as they get their hands on the materials they need. Their political theory says that they have the “right” to kill at least 4 million Americans.

So stop thinking about START and start thinking about: (1) keeping all materials out of the hands of terrorists; (2) heading off further construction of nuclear reactors in the Middle East; (3) developing the best possible nuclear forensics; and (4) developing a nuclear doctrine that says that there is no such thing as theft or accidents when it comes to nuclear materials, and that any diversion of such materials will be treated as a deliberate attack from the originating country, requiring a devastating counter-strike on that country - no excuses, because they have an absolute responsibility to secure their nuclear materials, and there is no way to decide between an accident and an “accident”.

On the second point - nuclear reactors in the Middle East - I cannot understand why pro-Israel conservatives are not the world’s greatest boosters of solar power, which would be the best way of keeping nuclear reactors out of those countries where radical Islam is most active. If more were invested in solar R&D, on an urgent basis, and if solar power were to become cheaper than nuclear power, then countries like Iran would have no excuses whatsoever for their supposedly “peaceful” nuclear power programs, and collective action could more easily be mobilized against them. Instead, conservatives typically oppose solar power and provide little support for the basic science that would drive the breakthroughs in this field. On issues like this, I have a lot of trouble mustering much respect for the intellectual abilities of conservatives, who fail to think beyond their standard talking points. Conservatives need to start thinking about solar power as a defense issue, but that would require too much flexibility of thought on their part.

Posted by: John_D | December 21, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey right-wingers, the end is coming, the end is coming! There is no way out, but suicide!

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | December 21, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Just one more way to weaken America. Thanks for nothing Odumba. We now know what you meant by "hope and change"...

Posted by: NO-bama | December 21, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I guess it's just impossible for right-wingers to understand something as complicated as a simple treaty. They don't understand it, so hey assume someone is out to do them in.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | December 21, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

"This treaty deserved closer scrutiny and should be followed very closely"

Seriously? Really? This thing was negotiated by professionals. Unbelievable...

Posted by: staussfamily | December 21, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

It's all about playing games. As long as the GOP prefers to play games and extort goodies for their partisan backers, nothing is worth even trying.

The GOP "leadership" will one day be shocked to notice that they have completely fallen out of favor. Even more so than now. What is the favorability rating now of Congress? Single digits?

It is that low because NOBODY likes you all. You are cocky and preening drama queens that get no results at all. You lead the finances of the nation to near collapse, and somehow you think pulling the old song and dance will gain you favor.

I think people yearn for yesterday because deep down everyone realizes that the leaders of yesterday just HAD to be better than the leaders of today.

Posted by: baldinho | December 21, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

The signing of this treaty will be a real disappointment to the war mongering paranoid right wing like Rubin here .GordonShumway , rplat and NO-bama , I can tell by your posts that you are arms control experts and that you have read the treaty and the amendments , please explain to us , specifically , what is in this treaty / agreement .

Posted by: Koom | December 21, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

When do we stop the one-sided deals? Answer: the day you realize that Russians and Chinese only Respect Strength - if they know you can hit them hard enough then the Chinese bang the Gong and both the Russians and Chinese smile insincerely and Kow-Tow to The Master. lol.

Posted by: darkasnight1234 | December 21, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

After reading this article it is suddenly clear to me that our combined military brass and all former secretaries of state really do want the USA to be taken over by the Russkies. Yup, that is why they backed this treaty, no other reason.
Yet, all these obstructionist's GOPs old pasty white men, are still grumbling over having to say yes Mr. President, and prefer that Obama to be defeated and humiliated as leader of USA, but they do not see a connection in that hoped for Obama defeat (not ratifying treaty) to an actual USA failure.
Nope, absolutedly no one would see a connection to Obama's defeat as POTUS and leader of free world to an American failure.
This is a parity on the movie "Seven Days in May." Only this time the Stars are played by wretched old men who would go so far as to place their ambitions (ala; Sarah Palin as VP)over the greater good for this country. My Country, my country, my life for this country, rather their motivation is really be damned if not according to their way.

Posted by: october30 | December 21, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Thank God, Jen, that you're on the case! Those durned military folks & Repub Secs of State obviously aren't the patriot you are, & their extensive knowledge of what they're talking about, the subject matter of the treaty, couldn't possibly exceed your own.

(Your shallowness on this issue is mind-boggling. The only concern we have about Russian tactical nukes is keeping track of them, which is what this treaty is all about.)

But, obviously, the only persons who haven't sold out on the treaty are you & McConnell. You're in good company.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 21, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse


You might try reading just what the NPT says in it about "disarmament", instead of making unfounded accusations.

Posted by: enzo2 | December 21, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

"And yet Republican opposition to the deal has essentially crumbled... I understand that it is hard to resist the entreaties of the entire foreign policy establishment and to set up the president to fail."

Spare me. Setting up the president to fail is the entire and sole purpose of everything congressional Republicans do.

Unfortunately for them, the entire foreign policy establishment (and Pentagon leadership) called them out on it, leaving them no choice but to back down, with a whole lot of egg on their faces.

Posted by: Bud0 | December 21, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Actually Enzo2, he's right, maybe you'd better have another look at the treaty text. When the nuclear powers signed NPT they did indeed commit to rapidly enter negotiations in good faith aimed towards full nuclear disarmament at an early date, to be followed by a general conference on complete international disarmament.

Posted by: Bud0 | December 21, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Article VI
Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

Posted by: Bud0 | December 21, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh Jennifer,
you continue to be an idiot. No one is expecting this treaty to prevent a war with the Soviet Union. (I use that on purpose because you apparently hadn't heard that it had disolved 20 years ago). It's more important to us to get inspectors back into the country to help keep track of nuclear material that terrorist's like Al Queda would just love to get their hands on.

Also, if you don't care about Russia's (that's what they call it now) assistance in containing Iran's nuclear program, or North Korea's bellicosity, then go ahead poke a stick into the eye of the Russian Bear. After all of those Republican foreign policy luminaries must be stupid too.

Posted by: wildcat1 | December 22, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

>>When the nuclear powers signed NPT they did indeed commit to rapidly enter negotiations in good faith aimed towards full nuclear disarmament at an early date, to be followed by a general conference on complete international disarmament.<<

Anybody with an ounce of common sense knows that oomplete nuclear disarmament is a pipedream. If U.S. authorities were ever so foolish as to destroy all our nukes in reliance on paper promises from other governments to do the same, we'd be at the mercy of ruthless and unscrupulous dictators and ruling cliques like those currently in charge in Iran and North Korea. There would be compelling incentives for cheating and it would be impossible to prevent that. This is so obvious that it hardly needs to be said.

Posted by: wumhenry | December 22, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

The gist of Rubin's criticism (parroting some unnamed "expert" in Washington) is that the treaty isn't an agreement about a whole bunch of other weapons--it's only about strategic nuclear weapons. So she would have us do nothing about strategic nukes unless we can also have complete disarmament at the same time? I didn't think the right wing was supposed to be in a flower-child fantasyland about peace and love on this stuff.

Posted by: turningfool | December 22, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

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