Why are Republican leaders holding the New START plan, agreed upon by Barack Obama and Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, hostage? Surely over one thousand long-range nuclear weapons is enough for both countries. The dark years of the Cold War are fading away in the memories of many, and good riddance. No one in government should discount the impact of the nuclear arms reduction treaties of the past. The treaties have created an atmosphere of peace in the world, without the imminent threat of mutually assured destruction.
Pat Buchanan has urged GOP leaders to join with Democrats and ratify the New START treaty:
Behind the Obama policy lies this reality. The best way, the only credible way to secure the freedom and independence of former Soviet republics like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and Georgia is not by threatening Russia with war, but by bringing Russia in from the cold and giving Russia a growing stake in aligning with the West.
I agree with Pat. There has been too much progress made in the face of the threat of nuclear war to use the issue to score political points. Russia and the U.S. can only benefit from better relations. One nation is resource rich (Russia) and the other is resource hungry (the U.S.). America also has major technological know how to share with Russia, for instance shale gas drilling techniques.
Russia also has much more to gain from a peaceful democratic Afghanistan. The proximity of Afghanistan to Russia makes it a perfect training ground for Muslim extremists who have often targeted the Chechnya region.
As America pulls back from its worldwide deployment, a Russian partner will be easier to work with than a Russian antagonist. America is in desperate need of strong allies, not more enemies. There is no reason to give Russia a free pass on human rights violations or other undemocratic actions. In fact, an agreement on arms reduction can be a stepping stone for putting pressure on Russia to further join the ranks of Western civilization by allowing more freedom in the country.
As for NATO, it has probably outlived its usefulness to an extent. Russia and the West don’t want war with one another. There may be competitive tensions and historic gripes that haven’t yet been settled, but the DEFCON level tension of the Cold War is gone. Today NATO is being used as a nation-building tool, adapted to rebuild the Middle East in the West’s image. That can never happen though. A culture cannot be forced to change, it must change on its own, through time.
The U.S. should systematically begin closing its bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in South Korea, Japan, Germany and the other countries of Europe. In that vein, why not shut down a number of the bases here in the U.S. that are kept open merely as a form of pork barrel spending?
These troops should be redeployed along the Mexican border to protect law and order in the region. Money saved from the troop pullback could be used to restart the F-22 program. Out of all the deterrents to foreign invasion the U.S., the F-22 must be one of the best. The Pacific Fleet could use an upgrade too. The Chinese aren’t sitting on their hands when it comes to their military. They are actively building the capabilities needed to invade Taiwan.
Times are changing. Republican senators need to worry less about yesterday’s threats and more about tomorrow’s. Pressing for missile defense systems would be a much better use of political capital than obstructing strategic arms reductions treaties.