First, Sen. Kyl and others contend that the treaty somehow diminishes America’s will to ensure that the existing U.S. nuclear stockpile is secure and workable—i.e., that the warheads will explode when and how they are supposed to. Most nuclear experts don’t believe this is a serious problem to begin with. But to reassure Kyl and his cohort, Obama is committing more than $85 billion in coming years to check the reliability of the nukes and to modernize them. That sum includes a very recent addition of $4.1 billion, which the White House hoped would seal their bribe. That $85 billion is a very high figure historically for this task—but it apparently is still insufficient to reassure Sen. Kyl.
Now, if the Republican reasons for opposing this new treaty are so silly, what are they really thinking? The only answer can be that they do not want this president of the United States to be seen as accomplishing anything. They plain don’t want him to succeed, for that will only strengthen his image and his political hand. And that’s the last thing they want. They just want to damage him and continue to beat him up, whatever the consequences for American security.
And have no doubt: The consequences of rejecting this treaty would be serious. It would totally undermine Moscow’s faith in Washington’s ability to carry out negotiated agreements. It, thus, would undermine the administration’s ability to strengthen ties with Moscow, to find common ground to deal with the problems of the Middle East and South Asia—very serious problems indeed.