I think we can support START for more than a few reasons.
First, I think we have an obligation to the world to lead in the area of nuclear deterence. But the United States also needs to lead in the area of Nuclear non-proliferation. Russia and the United States are the two main nuclear powers. If we can reach an agreement with them, then we can perhaps get nuclear weapons regimes under control.
Second, I do take to heart the efforts of Presidents Reagan and GHW Bush in trying to rein in nuclear stockpiles in the old Soviet Union. I think START is a non-offensive way to do this. Would I prefer a stronger minded president? Of course, but this treaty is not going to change that either. We won’t get a new president until 2013 at the earliest, so we should try to envision a set-up where the new president is able to lead from a modest framework of nuclear arms control.
Third, this is not unilateral disarmament as some would say. Ronald Reagan used to say trust, but verify. We have the ability in this treaty to try to verify Russian nuclear weapons reductions. Does this assuage the conservative mind in me regarding the Obama administration? The answer is no. But I do feel that a stronger willed administration would be willing to appoint strong people to monitor the Russians and decide if they are cheating. Again, with this administration, I understand the problems inherent trusting them to do what is right, but I also want a framework that a stronger administration can work from.
Fourth, we need to reaffirm our commitment to bi-lateral agreements regarding nuclear weapons. If anything, this treaty demonstrates the ability of the diplomatic system to work outside the United Nations. We are working with nations on a one-to-one basis, which reinforces our ability to conduct diplomacy without a UN imprimatur.
Fifth, and most importantly, we conservatives need to de-link this treaty from the Obama Administration’s poorly decided nuclear response policy. That policy is the height of naivte or worse. However, it is not the same thing as a basic international framework for control of nuclear weapons, which is in the interest of the United States and Russia. I also know that this administration has demonstrated weakness on the world stage multiple times, but administrations change. Chances to re-assert a time tested regime of Nuclear weapons reductions and controls are not. I think it is in the best interests of the country to support Senate ratification of this treaty. I hope enough Republicans in the Senate see it that way too. We can be critical of the President’s weakness and his apparent apologies for our country. But we can replace him. We should replace him. We should not torpedo what has been a hallmark of bi-partisan bi-lateral diplomacy of this country for twenty-five years just to register our disapproval of this obviously misguided president.