My view: Will Senate GOP sell out U.S. national security?

By David T. Pyne

Published: Sunday, Dec. 5 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

This past April, the Obama administration signed the controversial New START Treaty with the Russian Federation. It is pushing the U.S. Senate to vote on the treaty during the "lame-duck" session as early as next week before a dozen newly-elected Republicans can be sworn into office. Disturbingly, it appears Senate Republicans are now considering selling out our national security and ratifying this defective treaty for a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts.

Many Republican policymakers have rightly argued that U.S. Senate ratification of this nuclear disarmament treaty would pose an unacceptable risk to America's national security. The New START Working Group, which includes some of America's top nuclear experts, recently issued a report concluding that "if Russia exploits the legal lapses in New START, there is no actual limit in the new Treaty on the number of strategic nuclear warheads that can be deployed." In contrast, the administration could be expected to strictly adhere to treaty limits on warheads and launchers potentially putting the U.S. at a huge disadvantage against Russia, which already has a nuclear arsenal nearly three times larger than our own.

Former Governor Mitt Romney was absolutely correct when he warned, "The president's New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia could be [Obama's] worst foreign-policy mistake yet. New START impedes missile defense" and "gives Russia a massive nuclear-weapons advantage over the United States." Furthermore, this treaty does nothing to limit the size of the Chinese nuclear arsenal, which has been expanding precipitously during the past decade.

The failure of the administration to negotiate effective verification measures utilized in previous nuclear arms control treaties with Russia is troubling and would make it difficult, if not impossible, for us to ensure that Russia is complying with the terms of the treaty. In addition, many experts have testified that America's aging nuclear arsenal is in dire need of modernization, but Obama has repeatedly refused to commit to fund it.

This treaty, if ratified, would force the U.S. to reduce our nuclear arsenal to a level nearly 60 percent smaller than the nuclear deterrent Obama inherited from the Bush administration — below the level necessary for minimal deterrence against potential nuclear blackmail or nuclear attack. It represents just the first step in Obama's ongoing plan to achieve "a world without nuclear weapons," starting by getting rid of our own, which would be highly irresponsible in the increasingly dangerous world we live in today. This is a very idealistic, na?e and irresponsible proposition. Russia and the People's Republic of China, with nuclear arsenals rivaling or exceeding the U.S., will never agree to give up their own nuclear weapons. America must never unilaterally relinquish the very weapons which protect us against the horrors of nuclear attack.

Rather than continuing to decimate America's nuclear arsenal which has kept the nuclear peace for the past six decades, we should begin immediately to restore a credible strategic nuclear deterrent by doubling the number of warheads deployed on our Trident II SLBM's from 4 to 8 warheads a piece. This could be done at minimal cost by returning recently retired W88 warheads to active service. In view of the fact that they constitute the most survivable leg of our venerable nuclear triad, we should also significantly increase the operating tempo of our Ohio-class nuclear missile submarines so that two-thirds (as opposed to a mere 28 percent today) are deployed at all times in order to help ensure that we can deter any would-be nuclear aggressor.

It is also critical that we strive to realize Ronald Reagan's vision of establishing a comprehensive national missile defense system to protect our country from nuclear attack by deploying thousands of SM-3 Block 2 ABM interceptors aboard U.S. Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers during the next five years. Finally, it is vital that Congress vote to significantly increase funding for measures designed to protect us from a potentially catastrophic Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack and/or crippling cyber attack on our nation.

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has seriously mismanaged America's national security. Senate Republicans need to stand united in championing a return to a policy of "peace through strength" and vote to reject this dangerously flawed treaty.

David T. Pyne serves as National Security Policy Coordinator to Senator-elect Mike Lee (R-UT) and as a Vice President of the Association of the United States Army's Utah Chapter.

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