Only in Obama’s Orwellian world can secret negotiations to kill missile defense not mean the White House plans to kill missile defense. These secret negotiations were exposed by Bill Gertz in a June 16 article in The Washington Times. Genuine missile defense cooperation between the U.S. and Russia would be a very good thing. In fact, the U.S. was well down this path in 1992 with the Ross-Mamedov Talks, named for two chief negotiators, in response to Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s proposal for a Global Protection System against missile attack.
The Clinton Administration canceled these talks in 1993 in favor of its policy of preserving and strengthening the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with the Soviet Union. The ABM Treaty prohibited an effective U.S. missile defense development program and deployed capability. The Clinton administration’s policy to preserve the ABM Treaty failed because the Senate was fully prepared to reject this portion of its arms control agenda, even in the face of the Russian Duma’s decision to jettison the START II strategic nuclear arms control agreement. In fact, the Clinton administration did not even bother to submit its agreements for preserving the ABM Treaty to Senate because it knew that rejection was the likely outcome. START II never entered into force. The courage and forthrightness of the Senate in the face of both Clinton administration and Russian Duma defiance is why the U.S. has a robust missile defense program today and an open path to strengthening its overall missile defense capabilities in the future.
Now, it appears that the Obama administration and the Russians are returning to the patterns of behavior exhibited over the course of the late 1990s. Only this time, according the piece by Bill Gertz, they are calling these attempts to limit U.S. missile defense options as a form of expanded cooperation. Further, it appears that the Obama administration and Russia have created a hostage in the form of New START, similar to START II, in order to coerce the Senate and the American people. This may well constitute cooperation, but it is cooperation aimed at denying the American people and America’s allies of the defense against missile attack they deserve. Today, the Senate should do what it did in the late 1990s and say this kind of cooperation between the Obama administration and Russia is simply unacceptable and it will not consent to the ratification of New START under these circumstances. At the same time, the Senate should say that it will welcome genuine cooperation between the people of the U.S. and the people of Russia based on an unfettered missile defense program.