Largely ignoring the WikiLeaks scandal that continues to grab headlines this week, President Obama has placed his focus on passing the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, signed with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last April 8. Meeting with General Colin Powell in the Oval Office yesterday, the president obtained Mr. Powell’s backing, who urged the Senate to ratify the treaty during the lame-duck session.
Under New START, the U.S. and Russia will be forced to limit their nuclear warheads to 1,550 each, as well as limit their total number of ballistic missile launchers and nuclear-armed bombers to 800 apiece.
Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev sign the New START treaty.
But, for good reason, the treaty has met serious opposition. As American Foreign Policy Council’s Ilan Berman notes, it “contains a number of serious deficiencies”: It fails to limit Russia’s ongoing strategic modernization efforts, which would allow the Kremlin to easily reconstitute its nuclear arsenal in the future; it does nothing about battlefield nuclear weapons – of which Russia has over 10 times more than the U.S.; and, finally, analysts suspect the White House agreed to limit future missile defense development in exchange for reductions in the Russian strategic arsenal.
Indeed, although the treaty is meant to “reset” U.S. relations with Russia, it seems more like a plan to lead the way to “a world without nuclear weapons,” as President Obama stated was his personal goal. But a world without nuclear weapons is unrealistic, and a United States without nuclear weapons is suicide. With the number of nuclear-armed states growing – and dangerous ones at that – a strategically weaker, undefended United States would be unable to deal effectively with our nuclear-armed adversaries. Simply put: It is the wrong strategy at the wrong time.