New START treaty doesn’t make sense for US
President Barack Obama signed the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April. The treaty requires that the United States and Russia cut down their 2200 warheads to 1550, and keep one another informed about their nuclear arsenals. While the treaty may prevent another arms race, it ignores several other pressing issues on the security front, not to mention that it will cost a whopping $84 billion.
Among the strongest advocates of the treaty are many smaller European countries such as Denmark, Norway, Latvia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Lithuania, which desire the treaty’s ratification in the name of furthering the trans-Atlantic alliance, NATO, and enhancing European security. Such countries see Russia’s expanding arsenal as a major security threat and hope the treaty will open doors to further communication about their concerns.
Many of Obama’s advisors see the treaty as an opportunity to restore his political momentum after suffering heavy losses in the midterm election. They fear that pushing back the deadline of the ratification vote any further will only serve to foster an even weaker standing for Obama. Republicans in the lame duck Senate encourage waiting for the new Congress to convene in January before putting the treaty to a vote.
Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona has drawn the most attention on the matter, citing concerns about the modernization of the nuclear triad and the budget for the nuclear weapons complex. In order to sway the vote, Gen. Kevin Chilton approached Kyl with a proposal from Obama to spend a total of $180 billion on nuclear weapons from 2012 to 2016.
START requires the reduction of warheads and inherently puts the United States at a disadvantage. America is the target of several violent and nuclear weapon-possessing countries, and a treaty that proclaims to the world that the US must reduce its number of arms merely begs for trouble. The immense spending on the nuclear triad and nuclear weapons complex would also mean less to spend on security measures for nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On the Russian front, it is true that we could all sleep a little better knowing that the apocalypse won’t transpire between the two superpowers. Ultimately the treaty boils down to which is worse: the possibility of a slow and painful death at the hands of extremist factions, or an arms race with Russia.
Trisha Thacker is a biology freshman and may be reached at [email protected].