White House says Russians wrong about missile-defense limitations in START

posted at 8:48 am on January 4, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The confusion over the START agreement heated up into an international dispute yesterday as the White House finally responded to Russian declarations that the treaty specifically limits the US on missile defense.  Yesterday, I noted that the chair of the Duma’s International Affairs committee stated last week that Russia considered the preamble, with its language on limiting defensive systems to today’s status quo, legally binding.  The government-run Voice of Russia pointedly quoted chair Konstantin Kosachev yesterday to make the official position on the treaty clear.  Jake Tapper asked the White House to explain the confusion, and the Obama administration insisted that the Russians have it wrong:

An official of the lower house of the Duma says that as it ratifies the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, START, the Russian parliament will reaffirm that the treaty limits U.S. plans for missile defense, contrary to the stated position of U.S. officials.

Asked for comment, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor tells ABC News, “The President sent a letter to the Senate on December 18th that said: ‘The New Start Treaty places no limitations on the development or deployment of our missile defense programs.’ That remains the case.” …

In April, Sergei Prikhodko –- Russia President Dmitri Medvedev’s senior foreign policy adviser stated that Russian “negotiators had to insert the inextricable connection between strategic offensive and strategic defensive armaments (i.e. missile defense) into the treaty. This was successfully fulfilled and the importance of this connection when reducing strategic offensive armaments will be included in the treaty and be legally binding…”  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had also stated that “linkage to missile defense is clearly spelled out in the accord and is legally binding.”

Are they wrong? ABC News asked a senior Obama administration official at the time.

“Yes,” was the reply.

Well, someone’s wrong about START, and the Russians think it’s us.  Usually, this kind of confusion gets resolved during treaty negotiations, not after one side has already ratified the pact and the other is about to do the same.  Apparently, one or both sides brought negotiators who weren’t very good at negotiating.

This leaves us with very little assurance that Obama has not bargained away missile defense.  Their argument, that the preamble is not legally binding, is rather weak.  Certainly the preamble exists for a reason; if Obama wanted to protect missile defense, why allow it to be mentioned at all?  Doesn’t the existence of the at-least confusing language in the preamble have any meaning, and if it didn’t, why even bother to have a preamble?  Clearly, the Russians wanted that language and wanted the preamble, and someone on the American side should have given that enough thought to understand that the Russians would find it meaningful.

Here is the passage in the treaty that the Russians insist is a limitation on further development of missile defense, emphasis mine:

Recognizing the existence of the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms, that this interrelationship will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced, and that current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the Parties,

In other words, the Russians accepted current missile defense systems, but no further innovation will be acceptable.  They see missile defense advances as a threat to their own nuclear deterrent, especially since they cannot afford to develop their own strategic missile defense.  Nor do they want to start spending tons of money on catching up to us in that area; the Russian economy is weak enough without running up even more government debt.  This is a key point for them, and apparently a deal-killer, which is presumably why the Obama administration allowed the language into the treaty.  They wanted the START treaty so badly that they were willing to give up development of missile defense for it.

Now it has blown up in their faces.  The Russians will ratify it, but with additional language emphasizing the limitation on missile defense.  If they amend the treaty with that language, Obama will have to take it back to the Senate for re-ratification, which will not be forthcoming.  If the Russians just add commentary emphasizing their position, Obama won’t need to go back to the Senate, but the treaty won’t survive his presidency.  If Congress forces Obama to continue missile defense development, the Russians may pull out even before the next election.  Either way, START and the White House fumble on missile defense has become an embarrassment, another “reset button” for “smart power.”


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Nancy told Obama just to sign the treaty so he can find out what’s in the treaty.

Disturb the Universe on January 4, 2011 at 8:51 AM

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[note 1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Their argument, that the preamble is not legally binding,

It fits that they don’t think a preamble is binding…

right2bright on January 4, 2011 at 8:54 AM

Like they say on the midway: “Sorry, kid. You lose. Not understanding the rules of the game don’t make you any less a loser.”

apostic on January 4, 2011 at 8:55 AM

You know, I’m getting tired of waking up every morning, coming to Hot Air, and having to do a face palm. How far away is January 20, 2013?

rbj on January 4, 2011 at 8:55 AM

So who do you believe? Obama or Duma?

The problem is either:

A. Obama has just been too busy spending time in Washington, and he hasn’t had the time to play many golf courses in Russia.

B. It is a communication problem, and they just haven’t done a good enough job explaining things to the Russians.

C. Obama is just too smart, and the Russians are clinging to their guns.

singlemalt_18 on January 4, 2011 at 8:57 AM

As seen in the WikiLeaks documents, there is no Smart Diplomacy

J_Crater on January 4, 2011 at 8:57 AM

wonderful. We are in complete disagreement on the agreement.

just perfect.

ted c on January 4, 2011 at 8:58 AM

The push to pass it so quickly in the lame duck session SHOULD come back to haunt the Democrats. By insisting that the preamble was not binding in order to get it passed, they can’t come back with a revised treaty with specific language that restricts defensive systems and claim it doesn’t matter.

Had they waited and then got a revised treaty with specific language, the issue could have been muddled under the umbrella of “reducing the nuclear threat to our babies.” Now the defensive systems issue is front and center.

Not that they won’t try the “think of the children!” strategy (they always do), but it’ll be much harder.

mankai on January 4, 2011 at 8:58 AM

This is the smart power we were promised.

myrenovations on January 4, 2011 at 8:58 AM

It’s too late now, dude, you already signed it. It will be what the Rooskies say it is. Our death panel is under their control.

Kissmygrits on January 4, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Well of course Obaka would try to say the preamble doesn’t apply. He can’t even get the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence right!

ladyingray on January 4, 2011 at 8:59 AM

This leaves us with very little assurance that Obama has not bargained away missile defense. Their argument, that the preamble is not legally binding, is rather weak. Certainly the preamble exists for a reason; if Obama wanted to protect missile defense, why allow it to be mentioned at all? Doesn’t the existence of the at-least confusing language in the preamble have any meaning, and if it didn’t, why even bother to have a preamble? Clearly, the Russians wanted that language and wanted the preamble, and someone on the American side should have given that enough thought to understand that the Russians would find it meaningful.

Obama and the dems cares nothing for missle defense and in fact do not want it. So, most likely scenario is that they agreed with the russians to put it in the preamble and that it would be binding, but the agreement was likely that the Russians would say nothing and Obama would tell the american people it was not binding until ratified.

This smells like a double-cross by the russians to make Obama look bad and make the U.S. look weak. After all, the Duma is not going to really do anythign unless Putin wants it to. So this is all a game being played that Obama is losing very badly.

The Russians will eventually ratify the treaty as is and we will be bound and missle defense will be verboten until we get a real U.S. President who will withdraw from the treaty.

Monkeytoe on January 4, 2011 at 8:59 AM

I received an email last night from both Alexander and Corker trying to convince me that they were correct to ratify this treaty. I wonder what they think now?

ladyingray on January 4, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Well, and the Politico wonders why people question whether these mistakes are all by design. It does seem reasonable to wonder of Obama and his administration could possibly be this naive and down right lousy at their jobs. The good ol USA is getting porked by the rest of the world. All I can think of is payback is a bitch, and I hope the rest of the world is considering the fact that this idiot and his band of idiots will be gone soon enough.

Keemo on January 4, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Don’t you guys know how leftists see documents?

They take all the words they like in the preamble and use them to conform to their worldview.

Which is why the “common welfare” phrase in the preamble of the Constitution has more weight than Article X which limits the Federal government…

DavidM on January 4, 2011 at 9:01 AM

right2bright on January 4, 2011 at 8:54 AM

Theonly part of the preamble that binding (and expansive and means everything the feds want to do):

promote the general Welfare

That, they argue, covers just about every social program under the sun.

For the left, the “general welfare” statement and the Commerce Claus is the sum and substance of unlimited federal power.

mankai on January 4, 2011 at 9:01 AM

ladyingray on January 4, 2011 at 8:59 AM

I meant Constitution! UGH!

ladyingray on January 4, 2011 at 9:03 AM

“Clause”… Christmas is over.

mankai on January 4, 2011 at 9:04 AM

translation: don’t blame us

cmsinaz on January 4, 2011 at 9:07 AM

Obama lied . . .

Skandia Recluse on January 4, 2011 at 9:07 AM

One word: Feckless.

‘Nuff said.

juanito on January 4, 2011 at 9:10 AM

This is what happens when everything is treated as a crisis and we have been in the mode since Sept. of 2008. Mistake after mistake.

Cindy Munford on January 4, 2011 at 9:12 AM

They wanted the START treaty so badly that they were willing to give up development of missile defense for it.

epic fail

cmsinaz on January 4, 2011 at 9:13 AM

Cindy Munford on January 4, 2011 at 9:12 AM

amen sister…

cmsinaz on January 4, 2011 at 9:13 AM

Obama refused to show the negotiating notes for this very reason I suspect.

Mord on January 4, 2011 at 9:16 AM

This is a big efffing deal! Both parties are complicit in this. Polotics as usual.

Vince on January 4, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Mannn….

Number one on the Obamateurism of the Term list!!

DamnYankee on January 4, 2011 at 9:18 AM

Man, is this guy some kind of doofus or what?

search4truth on January 4, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Well, someone’s wrong about START, and the Russians think it’s us. Usually, this kind of confusion gets resolved during treaty negotiations, not after one side has already ratified the pact and the other is about to do the same.

Think God the “adults” are in charge!!!

Baxter Greene on January 4, 2011 at 9:21 AM

What Palin said. If missile defenses isn’t absolutely delinked, START is CRAP!

NoNails on January 4, 2011 at 9:22 AM

Captain KickDumb@$$ Rides Again.

MNHawk on January 4, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Obama refused to show the negotiating notes for this very reason I suspect.

Mord on January 4, 2011 at 9:16 AM

This administration relies on “smoke and mirrors” for everything it does.

Absolutely,100% corrupt.

Baxter Greene on January 4, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Obama lied, SDI died.

NoNails on January 4, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Uh, so what happens if we move forward with some kind of new missile defense capability that the Russians think is a violation of START? What’s the practical effect of this disagreement if it gets beyond the talking stage? A lawsuit? A new arms race? War?

Bennett on January 4, 2011 at 9:27 AM

The contrary positions of the Russians and those in the US who were pushing for immediate approval of this treaty were clear well before the Senate vote. The Russians were insisting that missile defense fell under the terms of the agreement.

The parties who pushed this pig in a poke on our country forgot Reagan’s maxim: “Trust but verify.”

Inasmuch as ObaMao flouts contractual law for his own purposes, perhaps he should invalidate this treaty before the Duma damns us into a further weak position.

onlineanalyst on January 4, 2011 at 9:29 AM

This is sick. Is there anybody in that Obama administration with an IQ greater than the sum of their digits?

rplat on January 4, 2011 at 9:29 AM

I can recall the candidate ObaMao self-righteously proclaiming that the US would not pursue “unproven missile defense” if he were elected.

It’s ironic that he would dedicate tax dollars to underwrite green energy boondoggles whose efficacy is either unproven or not cost-efficient.

onlineanalyst on January 4, 2011 at 9:32 AM

The second day of the first week of the year and the second article where my main thought through the whole thing is how stupid and childish Obama (and all the other idiots in Washington) looks.
I do not know if Obama can ride the Republican majority into the WH in 2012 but there is no way I can see surviving a 2nd term of The One.

ORconservative on January 4, 2011 at 9:34 AM

I thought these posts from Coldwarrior were dead on and worth another read:

A Treaty is a Treaty…all of it…once signed and ratified…a legal document…all of it.

Can’t go through and just pick out the good parts.

Par for the course for the O Administration. Sorta like they pick and choose what parts of the Constitution have legal standing and which do not, according to the time of day and day of the week, and what Eric Holder had for breakfast.

Smart power?

Damn, I am sooo happy the adults are in charge. /

But the Russians love Obama. Ever wonder why?

coldwarrior on December 23, 2010 at 11:24 PM

Obama will sell out anybody, including our National Defense, to score political points.

The Russian Duma has decided that they can wait till sometime next year to ratify the treaty…after we over committed to some serious points in it on our side thanks to Obama and the Dems demanding that if be ratified now instead of waiting.

I get the idea we were played like a cheap dime store fiddle by the Russians…again. They got what they wanted…a halt on US/NATO missile defense…the one area where they’ve never been able to catch up, even get close, to us for the past several decades.

Damn, I am sooo glad the adults are in charge.

coldwarrior on December 24, 2010 at 8:31 AM

Nobody has played Obama for a fool better than Putin.Now we have some idiot Republicans that can also share in this Russian smack down of “smart power”.

Baxter Greene on January 4, 2011 at 9:36 AM

GOD how I detest this corrupt bunch of b@stards that are stealing the future of my grandchildren.

lukespapa on January 4, 2011 at 9:40 AM


Obama….”I will slow our development of future combat systems”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dl32Y7wDVDs

Baxter Greene on January 4, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Move over, Poland; now you are not alone in feeling betrayed by this Administration.

GnuBreed on January 4, 2011 at 9:45 AM

Lovely, a treaty that is subject to interpretation. This national embarrassment is beyond stupidity.

Obama has been an opponent of missile defense all along, so I’m sure that’s what he intended, else why insert the preamble in the first place?

The net effect of this “indecision” is to place control of a critical part of our defense into Obama’s hands — a wonderful bargaining tool to hold against a Republican congress. I can’t believe that the Republican fools actually took the word of this serial liar AGAIN.

Aardvark on January 4, 2011 at 9:48 AM

As it turns out, the “Constitutional Law Professor” isn’t very good at constitutional law and is even worse at contract law.

“Just words”, he once said.

SlaveDog on January 4, 2011 at 9:50 AM

I don’t blame the Dims for this, it was the Pubs that supported it that sold us out. At least Judas got 30 pcs of silver all the Pubs got was a promise not worth anything. Nice going GOP.

chemman on January 4, 2011 at 9:51 AM

They wanted the START treaty so badly that they were willing to give up development of missile defense for it.

And we think this isn’t intentional? I mean…it’s not a secret the hippy libies are all out peace man. And have a disdain for the military, and national defense.

capejasmine on January 4, 2011 at 9:51 AM

It’s too late now, dude, you already signed it. It will be what the Rooskies say it is. Our death panel is under their control.

Kissmygrits on January 4, 2011 at 8:59 AM

The Great White Father breaks treaties all the time. Just the indigenous peoples of America.

darwin-t on January 4, 2011 at 9:51 AM

….the treaty won’t survive his presidency.

I just hope our country survives his presidency.

iurockhead on January 4, 2011 at 9:52 AM

Thanks to the Traitor-in-Chief’s hatred of the country that has given him everything, the Russians won this battle without a fight.

The treaty — especially with a spineless, America-hating coward in the White House — is whatever the Russians say it is. And the idea that some part of the document isn’t binding because someone doesn’t want it to is absurd on its face.

Giving away the means to defend the nation is simple treason and should be grounds for impeachment. That applies to the members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans, it should be noted — who voted for it.

MrScribbler on January 4, 2011 at 9:52 AM

SlaveDog on January 4, 2011 at 9:50 AM

More evidence as to why those grades, and transcripts will never see the light of day.

capejasmine on January 4, 2011 at 9:52 AM

They wanted the START treaty so badly that they were willing to give up development of missile defense for it.

Odumbass said he was going to do this when he was campaigning to become Campaigner in Chief.

darwin-t on January 4, 2011 at 9:54 AM

I thought the “reset” fixed everything!

Really Right on January 4, 2011 at 9:55 AM

Like the healthcare bill, all that mattered was that it got passed. Whether or not its for the good of the nation, all Obama cares about are a list of “historical” legislative accomplishments he can point to in claiming a successful presidency. The man simply doesn’t care, and the legislators that signed onto this thing, along with the ones who passed the healthcare bill, are either morons or corrupt. There are few bills before congress that rise to a level of such immediate import that they can’t sustain a period of reflection and discussion, preferably by the public.

tpitman on January 4, 2011 at 9:57 AM

I hope Ed is right about this START treaty being ultimately toothless. Color me pessimistic…

Buy Danish on January 4, 2011 at 9:58 AM

I just hope our country survives his presidency.

iurockhead on January 4, 2011 at 9:52 AM

We will survive… The Tea Party will stay focused and grow in numbers and strength. It’s the entire political establishment that must be watched closely, many of our own are in on this decline of America and our values. The old media must be put to death, including investigations and prosecutions for crimes against the people. Huge spider web of machinery that must be destroyed, and will take our full attention as well as several election cycles.

Keemo on January 4, 2011 at 9:58 AM

“Like the healthcare bill, all that mattered was that it got passed.”

This is really the most important narrative of Obamas first two years in office. It is just saddening.

Indy82 on January 4, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Indy82, I think we just got one of our main talking points for ’12

cmsinaz on January 4, 2011 at 10:03 AM

This is the problem when the desire to get a deal gives rise to ‘clever’ compromise. I think both sides have an understanding of what they think they were getting, but it’s now in writing and a part of the treaty. President Obama was never willing to walk away from the table, and this is the result.

Sheerq on January 4, 2011 at 10:13 AM

We sent an amateur team to play a pro team.

What the hell did we expect, another “Miracle on Ice”.

Yoop on January 4, 2011 at 10:20 AM

I think killing missile defense is Yobummers ultimate goal, thats is consistent with betrayal of allies in europe, and he just didnt think americans are smart enough to read to catch up with that.
Russians are bitter missile clingers…

anikol on January 4, 2011 at 10:22 AM

The point of Ed’s reasoning is that the Russians hold it in their power to ratify the treaty as-is, with all of its wording problems, or to destroy it by modifying it than thus guaranteeing that the US will not ratify the new treaty.

We’ve publicly made our interpretive point about going forward with missile defense, and if the Russians ratify under those terms, they agree to our interpretation.

If they add more stuff to “clarify” their opposition, then one has to wonder whether they have truly “detargeted” the United States as they once claimed they had. Under those conditions, I posit that the new treaty has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting past the Senate.

unclesmrgol on January 4, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Appropriate subtext Ed, “smart power”

It stuns me about how arrogant liberals are, saying they are smarter than Bush, and then make blunders like this.

On a separate note: Bob Bennett is one of the outgoing Republicans who voted for this treaty. At a business conference roughly two years ago I asked him a softball question about protecting missile defense funding that incoming President Obama was probably going to cut (and later did). His sickenly weak answer helped contribute to me voting against him in a small caucus precinct where the representative we chose voted for his opponent. I have never been happier ousting out an out of touch politician than I was when I heard Bennett voted for this new treaty on his way out, contrary to his voters desires.

Primaries DO work, and this time they got rid of a menace in the Senate.

scotash on January 4, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Primaries DO work, and this time they got rid of a menace in the Senate.

scotash on January 4, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Amen to that comrade…

Keemo on January 4, 2011 at 10:37 AM

These are the people the RUSSIANS have been waiting for.

ouldbollix on January 4, 2011 at 10:49 AM

Remember all the RINOs that voted for nSTART. Are you listening Lugar, Brown, Corker, etc???

AH_C on January 4, 2011 at 10:55 AM

PS, what kills me is that it’s not like the RINOs were ever in jeopardy if they didn’t vote for it. All they had to say was the document put US at a disadvantage. That hardly becomes a campaign issue at the next election.

On the other hand, being played for a fool and worse, a naive one at that, DOES put you at jeopardy when you get primaried. Your opponents will beat you over the head with that over and over again. Afterall, this goes to the core function of the federal powers and you sold our defense for a song. This fiasco when framed properly can be a bigger deal than voting for TARP, DADT etc.

Talk about doubling down on bi-partisan stupidity.

AH_C on January 4, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Remember all the RINOs that voted for nSTART. Are you listening Lugar, Brown, Corker, etc???

AH_C on January 4, 2011 at 10:55 AM

The Tea Party will not forget… These folks are toast as far as politics are concerned. Most likely they were bought and will be set for life, thus the absolute need for investigations and prosecutions.

Keemo on January 4, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Many of the OOTD’s reported @ HA strike me more as exemplary of Mr. Obama’s short-sighted and extraordinarily partisan style of doing business, rather than reflecting the implied incompetence of “amateurism”. But for me, this one is all about amateurish execution in the fullest sense of the phrase. To have walked away from protracted negotiations without a common understanding of what the treaty means to the other side is unforgivable. It’s the antithesis of successful negotiation. A lawyer negotiating a deal for a client or a labour negotiator who did this would summarily be shown the door 99% of the time.

On another aspect of the START treaty, I’ve not seen a lot of criticism of the other big ego involved in overseeing these negotiation, namely Ms. Clinton. It’s been my understanding that the Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation is the unit within the State Department which is responsible for negotiating international treaties. If that’s the case, shouldn’t we all be slinging a few brickbats at the estimable Ms. Clinton here as well?

martin.hale on January 4, 2011 at 11:04 AM

unclesmrgol on January 4, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Win/win?

Cindy Munford on January 4, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Remember all the RINOs that voted for nSTART. Are you listening Lugar, Brown, Corker, etc???

AH_C on January 4, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Exactly. This was an exercise in self-deception, and pointless. Harmless, I suppose, but pointless. We obviously do not have a treaty with Russia on nuclear missiles at this time, no matter what Our Idiot President is telling himself.

And the active participation of a bunch of douchebag liberal Republican Senators should be noted, and publicly discussed. A sound whipping would seem to be in order.

Jaibones on January 4, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Call me a Pollyanna, but so far I see this as nothing but a good thing.

Of course it’s not a net positive that we have a pernicious imbecile as a President. But that unfortunate turn of events happened two years ago. What I’m saying is: given that there are only two possible options, it’s better when Obama does something imbecilic, rather than successfully pernicious.

In this case, Obama has shot himself in the foot much more than he has harmed America. This idiotic “misunderstanding” with Russia will cripple his support both among his staunchly Communist base support group, and among the Rockefeller Republicans who voted for him because they wanted a “kinder, gentler” American Socialism, but with a strong national defense.

Any more of this kind of “smart power,” and Obama will be lucky to win the primaries, let alone re-election.

logis on January 4, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Who should we believe?
a) Obama administration
b) The Russians
I pick b. At this point, they’re more trustworthy.

mizflame98 on January 4, 2011 at 11:08 AM

I agree with those who point out that Obama has previously made it clear the he would not support missle defense. He claimed it was unproven and too costly. (His support of costly and unproven “green technology” is different. He likes that.) He suggested that the whole concept of missile defense was de-stabilizing, which is interestingly enough the same position his old Senate buddy Dick Lugar takes.

Obama and his team know exactly what the treaty means, and they think they got a great deal. They gave up things they didn’t want in the first place, nasty old excess nukes and the evil missile defense idea, and they got something to take home to claim as an accomplishment. It doesn’t have to be a real accomplishment, just something to take home and claim as an accomplishment, i.e. inspections. It doesn’t matter that what you gave up is of far more strategic value than what you gained, because in the world of Dear Leader and Lord Axelrod, appearances trump reality, so long as you can get the folks to buy the BS.

Lying to the American people about the significance of the preamble was simply necessary to get the fraud passed. It is who they are and it is what they do. Axelrod is a professional liar. So they just lied.

novaculus on January 4, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Who were the Republicans that signed on to this deal? Will they ever learn?

JAW on January 4, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Here we go again..

http://democrats.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=330029&

the_nile on January 4, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Who should we believe?
a) Obama administration
b) The Russians
I pick b. At this point, they’re more trustworthy.

mizflame98 on January 4, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Good pick. I don’t know about being more trustworthy, but at least we know they are acting in behalf of Mother Russia.

With Obama, we know who he is supposed to represent, but we are nowhere near sure who he is actually representing.

Yoop on January 4, 2011 at 11:18 AM

They see missile defense advances as a threat to their own nuclear deterrent, especially since they cannot afford to develop their own strategic missile defense. Nor do they want to start spending tons of money on catching up to us in that area; the Russian economy is weak enough without running up even more government debt

This is why I cannot believe we’re even at the table for another treaty. The Russians are stalemated by their own economy. Why in hell negotiate with them? Who negotiates after they’ve won?

We can camp on our current nuclear stockpile, perhaps put a little money into updating that system as ongoing maintenance, and push ahead on missile defense. Let the Russians do whatever they want–they can destroy their economy trying to keep up, or just sit unhappily with their status quo. Either outcome should be just fine for the USA.

But no, we had to elect Obama.

TexasDan on January 4, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Smart power? More like smart aleck power.

Ward Cleaver on January 4, 2011 at 11:47 AM

We sign a treaty that bans both sides from wearing green. Then we say that shamrocks aren’t green, and that we will wear shamrock prints. The other side believes, with child-like simplicity of reasoning, that shamrocks are green. But we hold to our argument.

What country on earth is going to sign a treat with us after we do this? President Obama’s actions are those of a man determined to strip this country of allies and make our adverseries into enemies. Unfortunately, he will not be the first to die when the consequences come.

njcommuter on January 4, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Who should we believe?
a) Obama administration
b) The Russians
I pick b. At this point, they’re more trustworthy.

mizflame98 on January 4, 2011 at 11:08 AM

I’m tired of Zero.
Let’s get F’ed by the Russians
For variety…

Haiku Guy on January 4, 2011 at 11:50 AM

US- We’re not!

RUS- You ARE!

US- Oh no we’re NOT!

RUS- OH YES YOU ARE!

US- NOPE!

RUS- YEP!

US- Nuh uhhh!

RUS- Uh Huhhh!

RUS- Wanna bet?

US_ Errrr…..no…

CynicalOptimist on January 4, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Either way, START and the White House fumble on missile defense has become an embarrassment, another “reset button” for “smart power.”

No problem Ed. If Clinton can re-define “is”, Obama can re-define “smart”. All is well.

tgharris on January 4, 2011 at 12:36 PM

This whole issue is just not sitting right with me. I think we’re missing the point here.

Here are a couple of somewhat less obvious possibilities:

- 0bowmao doesn’t want to spend billions on missile defense, because he wants to free up that money for social programs/giveaways/redistribution.
- The Rooskies don’t want us to be developing missile defense, because they rightfully believe that we can master the technology long before they could. The Rooskies want to develop their own missile defense (without competition from us) so they can SELL it to the highest bidder. Cash is king.

I think we all can agree that 0bowmao knowingly and needlessly gave away the house.

FlatlanderByTheLake on January 4, 2011 at 1:45 PM

The Rooskies want to develop their own missile defense (without competition from us) so they can SELL it to the highest bidder. Cash is king.

I think we all can agree that 0bowmao knowingly and needlessly gave away the house.

FlatlanderByTheLake on January 4, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Like Slick allowed our rocketry tech to go to China. Outcome? 1) China working on a carrier-killer which requires over the horizon precision targeting a relatively fast-moving target. 2) China hauling stuff into space for cash. 3) China moving to colonize the moon and beyond before we can even get our butts in gear on a replacement to Space Shuttle, let alone send man into deep space or back to the moon.

3) the irony vis a vis #3 just flat out chaps me. We’re sending probes to the moon to hunt for ice and other raw materials to sustain life on the moon, all with no real plan for using it. Once we’ve mapped out the moon’s resources, the Chicom will just swoop in and set up sovereign camp.

We see how our gifts to the Chicoms just keep on giving; So what else are we giving away the ranch for with Rodina? As others have noted, Russia is economically & militarily insignificant compared to other would-bes, so why are we even wasting the time of day with them over START?

AH_C on January 4, 2011 at 2:38 PM

I received an email last night from both Alexander and Corker trying to convince me that they were correct to ratify this treaty. I wonder what they think now?

ladyingray on January 4, 2011 at 9:00 AM

I seem to recall a certain political figure who was mocked for opposing the treaty while all “serious” Republicans supported it…

alwaysfiredup on January 4, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Give “Oppease” a chance!

chickasaw42 on January 4, 2011 at 3:48 PM

So we really don’t have treaty after all? It might have been a good idea to get this clarified before voting to ratify the thing. Another transparency failure.

flataffect on January 4, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Can’t expect a team of socialist elitist academics to engage in serious negotiations with people who wrote the book on modern socialism and come away with anything that can be easily interpreted.

n0doz on January 4, 2011 at 10:12 PM