The Wikileaks revelations have been described as the “9/11 of diplomacy”. One not-so-secret revelation, however, is news that the Obama Administration doesn’t hold the transatlantic alliance in particularly high regard. For Obama, America’s European allies are like pawns on a chess board—to be arm twisted into supporting the Democrats political agenda wherever necessary. And nothing is higher on Obama’s agenda right now the New START Treaty.
The latest European voice ‘spontaneously’ calling for ratification of the treaty is Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary general of NATO. Rasmussen states: “As a former member of the Danish Parliament, I know better than to tell U.S. senators what to do.” Then he goes on to tell the Senate exactly what to do—to ratify New START. And his primary reasoning for this support? That New START will lead to a second treaty of greater importance of Europe—namely, on tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.
It is impossible, not to mention ridiculous, to ask U.S. senators to support New START for the purposes of achieving another treaty at some point in the unidentified future which may or may not be important to America’s cousins across the Atlantic. The U.S. Constitution only empowers the Senate to offer its advice on and consent to this particular treaty.
The Senate is right to be concerned about New START. The Russians have indicated that the treaty imposes significant limitations on U.S. ballistic missile defenses—and therefore on NATO’s proposed missile defense plans as well. In a unilateral statement made by the Russian Federation, Moscow stated: “The Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms signed in Prague on April 8, 2010, can operate and be viable only if the United States of America refrains from developing its missile defence capabilities quantitatively or qualitatively.” Although the Administration is refuting this claim, it is refusing to release the negotiating record of the U.S.-Russian deliberations for the Senate to review, making it difficult for Senators to fully asses whether the Treaty is in fact in the U.S. interest and that of its allies or not.
When the new Senate reconstitutes in January there will be plenty of time for the Foreign Relations Committee to reconsider the matter and investigate exactly whether the Treaty genuinely does serve U.S. and allied interests. It is worth waiting these few short weeks for the newly-elected Senate to execute its constitutionally-mandated duty to genuinely offer its advice and consent on such an important issue—and with the full facts before it.