By Brent Budowsky - 11/22/10 10:13 PM EST
As the new START Treaty moves to center stage amid growing alarm from America’s strongest allies that it will not be ratified in 2010, I recall an essay I wrote for National Review Online in December 2004 titled “Roosevelt, Reagan, Rushmore.”
I suggested President Reagan reached true historic greatness for his role in reducing the deadly dangers to the world of the nuclear arms race.
The START Treaty is strongly supported by a long list of leading advisers to Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
It’s supported by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanders of every branch of our military. It’s supported by the civilian leadership and military command of NATO. It’s supported by political leaders and military commanders of every American ally around the world.
Legitimate concerns have been raised by Republican senators and addressed at length by START supporters.
President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Gates (who has served Republican and Democratic presidents) have shown great diligence addressing good-faith concerns with effective solutions.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has conducted extensive public hearings and private negotiations that provide a model for bipartisan foreign policy at its best. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) have developed an extraordinary partnership in which they serve as virtual co-chairmen of the committee regardless of which party controls the Senate majority.
Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is working in the tradition of majority leaders Mike Mansfield, Howard Baker and Bob Dole, supporting bipartisan discussions with an open door for all Republican senators.
The START Treaty will not transform world affairs. However, it includes provisions that commanders and world leaders believe are critical, in particular guarantees of verification that are no longer in effect without START.
“Trust but verify” was at the heart of President Reagan’s arms-control strategy. Without verification of all arms-control obligations, no arms-control obligation is enforceable and the safety, security and stability of the United States and all nations are endangered.
After extensive discussions with Republicans, ratification of START would include a significant modernization of our nuclear forces, even when budget deficits create intense pressure on spending.
Our nation is at war. Our troops are under fire. Our communities are threatened by terrorist attacks being planned today. The START Treaty should be ratified in 2010.
There should be no misunderstanding about this: If the START Treaty becomes the next weapon of aggressive partisan warfare, it would demoralize America’s allies and embolden America’s enemies.
President Obama and President Medvedev have begun a reset of U.S.-Russian relations that is strongly supported by our commanders and allies. This reset has fostered increasing cooperation on vital matters, including policy toward Afghanistan and Iran.
President Reagan achieved greatness because he knew that on great matters of state a nation must rise above partisanship, as we must today, ratifying START in 2010.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.