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Sen. Jim DeMint: Why I May Filibuster New START: UPDATED

December 3rd, 2010

Senator Jim DeMint, critical of the Obama administration’s decision to drop Bush-era plans to deploy missile defense shields to Poland and the Czech Republic, is equally critical of START. He believes the treaty will limit how future presidents could pursue missile defense. DeMint asserts that Cold War-era foreign policy is no longer feasible, since the U.S. faces threats from rogue states like Iran and North Korea, and START would have no effect on these countries’ capabilities to develop nuclear weapons.

In a recent statement published at National Review Online‘s The Corner blog, DeMint argues why he may filibuster the new treaty. An excerpt:

“Many of us have been concerned that the START Treaty would weaken our national security, and recent revelations of previously undisclosed talks with Russia on missile defense and movement of Russian tactical nuclear warheads only raise more questions that must be answered. I’ve asked for the full negotiating records, as have been provided to the Senate on previous treaties, but the Obama administration has continually denied that request and promised that missile defense was never part of the negotiations with Russia. But we have now learned that the State Department did in fact meet with Russia to specifically discuss missile defense, after months of denying these discussions ever took place.”

Read the rest at NRO.

Update: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney weighs in on START in the Boston Globe. An excerpt:

“Why the hurry, Mr. President? It’s a question we’ve asked twice before. There was a rush to pass his $787 billion ‘stimulus’’ to hold unemployment below 8 percent. Congress obliged, and now we are saddled with higher unemployment and crushing debt. Then there was his health care assault: no time for our representatives to even read the bill. As ObamaCare has been revealed, it has frightened business into retreating from hiring. Now the president is in a hurry again: affirm the New START treaty right away, he insists, during the lame duck session. Fall for his rush once, shame on him; twice, shame on Congress; a third time, shame all around.

“A treaty so critical to our national security deserves a careful, deliberative look by the men and women America has just elected. The president is in a hurry for the same reason he has been in a hurry before: he knows that if his vaunted treaty is given a thorough review by the Senate, it will likely be rejected. And well it should be.”

Mitt Romney Responds to Richard Luger on START

July 26th, 2010

Mitt Romney

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post earlier this month, and he’s received a number of responses. At National Review Online, he responds to Senator Richard Lugar’s criticism of his article, which Romney says “deserves further discussion

Romney lays out eight problems with new START. An excerpt:

“1. New START does limit U.S. missile-defense options. First, New START’s preamble not only references missile defense, it accedes to Russia’s insistence that there is an interrelationship between strategic offensive weapons and missile defense. While the Bush administration steadfastly refused to accept this Russian position, the Obama administration bows to it. The statement of interrelationship in the preamble, in addition to the specific missile-defense measures in the body of the treaty, amount to a major concession to Russia.

“The treaty’s advocates dismiss the preamble reference as non-binding. But the significance of including missile-defense provisions in an offensive-weapons treaty is not lost on either signatory. Further, the Russians assert that the preamble does indeed constitute a binding limit on our missile-defense program, both in their Unilateral Statement and in subsequent public statements. Gen. Yevgeniy Buzinskiy, who served as the chief of the International Treaty Directorate in the Russian Ministry of Defense during the treaty’s negotiations, insists that any increase in our ABM system could be claimed as a breach of the treaty. Such ambiguity and pressure, and fear of being accused of violating the treaty, could strongly restrain American presidents from aggressively developing and deploying missile defense. The 1972 ABM Treaty provides historical precedent for such a chilling effect: Fearful that U.S. theater-missile-defense systems would be viewed as violating the treaty, we pulled back from realizing the full potential of such systems.

“Further, the treaty prohibits our conversion of ICBM and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers for the launching of defensive interceptors. Such conversions may well not be part of the Obama administration’s current plans, but they could surely be part of a subsequent administration’s. Past missile-defense agency directors and naval planners have objected to precluding SLBM-launcher conversions, capable as they could be of defending America and our allies from diverse and undisclosed locations. Such conversions were prohibited by the ABM Treaty during the Cold War — a treaty from which we have withdrawn — but the Obama administration is consenting to their renewed prohibition by New START. Under its terms, there could be an average of four or more SLBM tubes on each of our strategic submarines that no longer contain ballistic missiles but may not be converted for defensive interceptors, and so are empty.”

James Carafano: “Why do Republicans trust Gates?”

July 16th, 2010

The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano, blogging at Big Peace, writes about his skepticism over Defense Secretary Robert Gates supporting the new START. Missile defense experts and others are concerned that the president has compromised our nation’s security to obtain Russia’s cooperation in dealing with Iran.

“When Republican presidential aspirant Mitt Romney went off on the White House, the White House noticed,” Carafano writes. “In a withering column in the Washington Post, Romney labeled the New START arms control agreement ‘Obama’s Worst Foreign Policy Mistake.’ That did not sit well with Obama. The administration has been trying to fast-track Senate ratification of the treaty. The president’s concern over the Romney speed-bump is apparent. Mr. Obama quickly dispatched Defense Secretary Robert Gates to launch what The Hill dubbed  ‘a 2012 proxy fight with Mitt Romney.’”

The move had a limited pay-off, says Carafano. Republicans apparently are swayed by Gates’s support of START. The question is, “Why do Republicans trust Gates?”

Read the full post here.

James Carafano on Romney’s Opposition to START

July 13th, 2010

The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano wrote a post about the new START at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Peace blog. Carafano references a Washington Post article we blogged about last week. Mitt Romney wrote that the new treaty “could be his worst foreign policy mistake yet. The treaty as submitted to the Senate should not be ratified.”

Carafano makes the point that although other Republicans oppose START, Romney’s opposition to it is bold, considering he may decide to run for president.

“Even in the ranks of the Senate, most of the honorable gentlemen and gentlewomen are holding off rejecting the treaty outright. Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Jim DeMint of South Carolina have expressed a pretty high degree of skepticism. At best, however, most of the legislators on the right have confined themselves to demanding the White House give up more background information, demanding “reports on Russia’s compliance with a nuclear arms control treaty that expired last December,” and requesting “the record of negotiations that led to the New START agreement in a letter to President Obama on May 6.

“By coming out and saying the treaty is unacceptable as it is, Romney finds himself standing pretty much to the right of the Right.”

Read Carafano’s full post here.

Mitt Romney: START Could Be Obama’s Worst Foreign Policy Mistake

July 6th, 2010

Mitt Romney

Former Governor Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post. He was some tough words for the president.

“Given President Obama’s glaring domestic policy missteps, it is understandable that the public has largely been blinded to his foreign policy failings…He castigated Israel at the United Nations but was silent about Hamas having launched 7,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip. His policy of ‘engagement’ with rogue nations has been met with North Korean nuclear tests, missile launches and the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, while Iran has accelerated its nuclear program, funded terrorists and armed Hezbollah with long-range missiles. He acceded to Russia’s No. 1 foreign policy objective, the abandonment of our Europe-based missile defense program, and obtained nothing whatsoever in return.

“Despite all of this, the president’s New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New-START) with Russia could be his worst foreign policy mistake yet. The treaty as submitted to the Senate should not be ratified.”

Like other proponents of strong and comprehensive missile defense, Romney believes START limits our missile strategy, despite the administration’s assurances to the contrary.

“Its preamble links strategic defense with strategic arsenal. It explicitly forbids the United States from converting intercontinental ballistic missile silos into missile defense sites. And Russia has expressly reserved the right to walk away from the treaty if it believes that the United States has significantly increased its missile defense capability.

“Hence, to preserve the treaty’s restrictions on Russia, America must effectively get Russia’s permission for any missile defense expansion. Moscow’s vehemence over our modest plans in Eastern Europe demonstrate that such permission would be extremely unlikely.”

Why did President Obama caved to an agreement that benefits mostly Russia? Why is the reasoning behind restricting the defense of our homeland?

“The treaty also gives far more to the Russians than to the United States. As drafted, it lets Russia escape the limit on its number of strategic nuclear warheads. Loopholes and lapses — presumably carefully crafted by Moscow — provide a path to entirely avoid the advertised warhead-reduction targets. For example, rail-based ICBMs and launchers are not mentioned. Similarly, multiple nuclear warheads that are mounted on bombers are effectively not counted. Unlike past treaty restrictions, ICBMs are not prohibited from bombers. This means that Russia is free to mount a nearly unlimited number of ICBMs on bombers — including MIRVs (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles) or multiple warheads — without tripping the treaty’s limits. These omissions would be consistent with Russia’s plans for a new heavy bomber and reports of growing interest in rail-mobile ICBMs.”

Read the full article at the Washington Post.

Protect America Month

June 1st, 2009

American flagThe Heritage Foundation has declared June “Protect America Month.” Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney kicked off the month with an appearance at Heritage on Monday to address attendees about the need to build and maintain a strong and comprehensive missile defense system. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will speak at Heritage on July 10.

During Protect America Month, Heritage will emphasize protecting our country and committing to levels of defense spending that will get the job done.

Read the full text of Romney’s speech here.

Mitt Romney Speaks at Heritage

June 1st, 2009

 
Mitt RomneyMitt Romney, former Republican candidate for president, spoke at the Heritage Foundation on Monday. He criticized President Barack Obama’s missile defense cuts, especially in the wake of North Korea’s defiance. An excerpt:

“Freedom is threatened not just by those who aspire to world leadership, but also by the rogue and malevolent. North Korea has made it abundantly clear that they are not only intent on perfecting nuclear weapons, but they are contemptuous of the concerns of the United States and the world at large. It was no accident that they launched their missile while the President was addressing nuclear non-proliferation, and executed their nuclear test to coincide with Memorial Day. The message is clear: the on-again, off-again talks and diplomacy and agreements have been nothing but stalling maneuvers. While diplomats celebrate yet another agreement, convinced that all their work has made the world safer, North Korea continues down the nuclear path Kim Jong Il has long pursued.

“Arrogant, delusional tyrants can not be stopped by earnest words and furrowed brows. Action, strong bold action coming from a position of strength and determination, is the only effective deterrent.”

The speech was titled, “The Care of Freedom,” and you may read the full text at the Heritage blog.