Wednesday, December 22, 2010

U.S. Senate Ratifies START Treaty With Russia 71-26, Alaska Senators Mark Begich And Lisa Murkowski Both Vote Yes; Sarah Palin Has Misgivings

On December 22nd, 2010, the U.S. Senate voted 71-26 to ratify the controversial Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia. Only 67 votes were needed to ratify the treaty; both Alaska Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski voted Yes. Ratification was considered a foregone conclusion after the Senate voted 67-28 to invoke cloture and allow debate on the treaty to proceed on December 21st.

You probably noticed that the Yes side picked up four more votes between cloture and ratification. Switching from Not Voting to Yes were Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Judd Gregg (R-NH); switching from No to Yes was Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE). Johanns explains his abrupt 180 degree about-face HERE.

President Barack Obama signed the treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April 2010. The treaty would authorize the resumption of inspections of each country's nuclear arsenal while limiting both the United States and Russia to 1,550 warheads and 700 launchers. It still needs to be approved by the Russian State Duma (parliament). Several senators were reassured by the last-minute passage of a ceremonial amendment stating that the accord should not be interpreted in a way that would hamper U.S. missile defense plans. The amendment was sponsored by Republican senators John McCain of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee, among others.

To no one's surprise, Alaska Senator Mark Begich voted Yes. But this was expected; after all, Begich has, for the most part, faithfully rubber-stamped Obama's agenda since 2009. However, the Yes vote by Lisa Murkowski triggered much more concern. Senator Murkowski disclosed her support of START in advance; in this press release, she explained that she was assured that ratification would not preclude the United States from expanding either the number of missile interceptors at Fort Greely or the number of missile fields. Specifically, she was assured that "the Treaty in no way limits our ability to sustain our current thirty GBIs, to complete construction of missile field 2, to update or build new missile fields as necessary, or more generally to expand and modernize our missile defenses both qualitatively and quantitatively in the future.” Senator Murkowski also acknowledged some limitations, but dismissed them as not being within the scope of the treaty. Murkowski has also undoubtedly been freshly empowered by the Alaska Supreme Court's just-announced decision to reject Joe Miller's challenge to Murkowski's electoral victory.

However, former Governor Sarah Palin has serious reservations about the treaty. In a December 17th National Review article, Palin spells out her primary objections:

-- The treaty requires the U.S. to reduce its nuclear weapons while permitting Russia to increase theirs.
-- The treaty recognizes a link between offensive and defensive weapons – a position the Russians have sought for years.
-- The treaty imposes no restrictions on Russian sea launched cruise missiles.

But Palin appears most concerned with the treaty's linkage between offensive and defensive missiles. She believes we're compromising our ability to develop a shield to protect ourselves against offensive missiles. This is a concern echoed by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), who argued on the Senate floor that the basic premise of the treaty -- that America's nuclear arsenal should be at parity with Russia's -- is flawed. "Russia is a protector of none and a threat to many. America is a protector of many and a threat to none," DeMint said.

Certainly Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili might agree with that latter assessment -- although no one apparently bothered to ask him if he would voluntarily sign a START treaty with Russia. You see, Georgia has experienced Russia up close, personal, and in a most detrimental way for many years now. Ever since Georgia achieved independence from the old Soviet Union in 1992, Russia has worked ceaselessly to subvert the Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. They even went so far as to grant residents of those two provinces Russian documents. Imagine how Mexico would react if we granted citizens of their northern states of Sonora and Chihuahua American documents. Then, in 2008, when Georgia finally had enough of Russian provocation and sought to reassert their sovereignty over the two provinces, Russia responded with an outright military invasion and forcibly amputated the two provinces from Georgia, permitting insurgents in the two provinces to ethnically cleanse Georgians under the cover of Russian protection.

Oh, and let's not forget the mysterious "plane crash" of Polish dignitaries at the Russian city of Smolensk. Taking the life of then-President Kaczynski, it partially decapitated the Polish government. Many believe it was an FSB operation (the FSB is the successor to the old KGB); suspicions about the crash are documented HERE.

Oh, and Ivan remains capable of brutality towards its own people. Recently, Russian authorities brutally suppressed a protest against mass immigration by Russian patriots in Moscow. While the Russian government attempted to portray the patriots as "football hooligans", a discussion thread on Stormfront reveals that there is much more to the story. Attacks and murders against Russians by foreigners have long been ignored by the media and brushed aside by the Russian government. While this is not intended to excuse unlawful behavior, it does explain how state refusal to deal with problems can generate direct action by the public.

I'd say that the Georgians and the Poles are much more knowledgeable about the real Russia than Barack Obama. And the real Russia -- the same old totalitarian wine poured into new democratic bottles.

1 comment:

  1. why do we care what sp thinks?