John Kerry tells Senate to give Putin whatever he wants
A Republican on Capitol Hill sent around an eye-opening e-mail last night that related to Sen. John Kerry's (D.-Mass.) opening remarks on the START ratification debate. Kerry told his colleagues that they should "make no mistake. We're not going to amend the treaty itself. We're willing to accept resolutions that don't kill the treaty." In other words, anything that might clarify the treaty to benefit American national security interests is out of bounds.
As the e-mailer reminds me, a treaty amendment would simply send START back to the Russians. That's not a "killer" amendment; it's a counter-offer. Can't we ask for a clarification? Oh, no. For that might annoy the Russians, upsetting the entire "reset" gambit that is apparently based on a single rule: give the Russians what they want. This means no defensive arms for Georgia, no hassling on human rights, going easy on Russian companies' violations of Iran sanctions, and pulling our missile defense systems out of Poland and the Czech Republic. It is precisely this sentiment that concerns Senate Republicans, not to mention the former republics of the Soviet Union.
In the context of the START treaty, moreover, an amendment by the U.S. Senate would hardly be unprecedented. I am reminded that in the past the Russians have asked for amendments for their benefit. A congressional research service paper earlier in the year recalled, "President Putin offered his support to START II and pressed the Duma for action in early 2000. He succeeded in winning approval for the treaty on April 14. . . . However, the Federal Law on Ratification said the Treaty could not enter into force until the United States approved ratification of several 1997 agreements related to the 1972 ABM Treaty."
Last week, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called for a new realism in our relationship with Russia. There could be no better place to begin than with the START agreement and the "give them whatever they want" mentality.
| December 16, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
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Posted by: AndreiFromRussia | December 18, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse
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