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An agreeable START to new international politics

This level of support reaffirmed the broad consensus that our national interests are better served through global engagement, not global arrogance. International agreements, disparaged by the previous administration, are again seen as viable tools of security policy. A comprehensive approach to reducing nuclear threats has replaced nuclear whack-a-mole……….

Fresh Security Consensus Trounces Cold War Politics in New START Victory, THE HUFFINGTON POST, Joe Cirincione, 24 Dec 10, The New START treaty has obvious benefits for national security. But the overwhelming vote in favor of the treaty (71-26) has much broader significance. And the still sizable vote against it, a troubling dark side.

The case for the treaty is fairly simple. It reduces the number of Russian long-range nuclear weapons, restores inspections on the ground to monitor those that remain, and paves the way for stronger global action on the key threats of Iran, North Korea and nuclear terrorism.

s Michael Krepon of the Henry L. Stimson Center notes, arms control treaties are the “glue” that hold together the global non-proliferation system.

Reducing nuclear dangers requires top down leadership. If the two largest holders of nuclear weapons can’t agree on structures, rules, and monitoring arrangements for arms reductions, all of the other rules governing nonproliferation become weaker.

That, in a nutshell, is why the treaty passed the Senate with a large, bipartisan majority and why it had the unequivocal support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former commanders of US nuclear forces, and almost every senior official who served in a national security cabinet position during the past seven administrations.

This level of support reaffirmed the broad consensus that our national interests are better served through global engagement, not global arrogance. International agreements, disparaged by the previous administration, are again seen as viable tools of security policy. A comprehensive approach to reducing nuclear threats has replaced nuclear whack-a-mole……….

Treaty supporters mobilized the broad, bipartisan security consensus and isolated the ideological and political opponents. Non-government organizations played a key role in organizing former Republican and Democratic officials in support, bringing in former senior military officials, encouraging citizens to phone and email their Senators, and working with Catholic, Protestant and Jewish groups in key states and nationally.

Senior administration officials have personally thanked the groups for the sustained campaign they ran for the treaty. “We couldn’t have done it without you,” they say. As one Senate staffer told us after the victory:

It was the best grassroots arms control campaign in a long time – and I truly believe that it made a difference. In particular, it neutralized the right-wing efforts in home states and gave us a level playing field in Washington.

This combination allowed a Democratic president for the first time in history to win approval of an arms reduction treaty he negotiated — over strenuous objection of the Republican Senate leadership. In the end more than one quarter of the Republican caucus (13) choose the advice of the Joint Chiefs over the recommendations of Jon Kyl and John Bolton.

The nuclear policy battles ahead will be every bit as fierce as the START debate. But if this combination is kept intact, there will be likely be more victories like the one this week–victories that help turn us from the outdated threats and strategies of the last century and carry us forward to meet the challenges of the 21st.

Joe Cirincione: Fresh Security Consensus Trounces Cold War Politics in New START Victory

December 24, 2010 - Posted by | politics international, USA

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