Friday, December 03, 2010

President Obama, You Are No Ronald Reagan

President Obama would like you to think that Ronald Reagan would approve of his insistence that the START Treaty be ratified in the Senate during the lame duck session. Not so fast, say two men who were in the Reagan administration.

Ed Meese and Richard Perle wrote the following on why Reagan would not approve of those claims.

There are many reasons why this treaty falls short of those negotiated by President Reagan. For one thing, its verification regime is inadequate. For another, it gives the Kremlin an unwarranted influence over the structure of our nuclear deterrent. Most important, it will almost certainly reduce our freedom to deploy vital defenses against ballistic missiles.

Moreover, the administration is asking a lame-duck Senate, dominated by a party that was rebuked at the polls by the electorate, to vote for this major arms-control treaty, in contravention of the settled traditions of our country—a tactic Reagan surely would have deplored.

Never in U.S. history has a lame-duck Congress voted on a strategic nuclear arms-control treaty with the Soviet Union or Russia. That is why a group of 10 newly elected Republican senators sent a joint letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid demanding that they be allowed to perform their constitutionally mandated task of advice and consent on this treaty.

Mr. Meese was attorney general and a member of the National Security Council, and Mr. Perle was assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.

The first red flag was Barack Obama evoking the name of Reagan in the first place. While some far left bloggers like to gnash teeth and wring hands that Obama is going all Reaganite on them, it is silly to even contemplate that notion.

The second red flag was Barack Obama asking for and receiving support from Republicans from former administrations, by way of producing letters signed by them in favor of the treaty ratification. He even did a photo op with the White House press corps using Colin Powell as a prominent Republican in his corner. The problem with that endorsement is that Colin Powell, while thanked for his service to our country, is no longer considered much of a voice of authority in Republican politics. He chose to play racial politics and endorse Barack Obama over John McCain, though he had been a strong McCain supporter up until the end of the campaign and suddenly changed teams. Then he denied it was about supporting the potential first bi-racial president. At that point, he lost credibility as a voice of reason. If Obama wanted legitimate and intelligent Republican support by a widely respected Republican public figure, he would have brought in Condi Rice and listened to her for endorsement. She is an expert on Russian politics. Her years of public service and dealing with Russian issues goes back decades.

Obama is not a man of his word. This, unfortunately, is a continuing pattern. As this op-ed summarizes, we have no reason to believe that Obama would stand strong on a nuclear defense treaty. Future restrictions on U.S. missile defense are an even greater concern. The treaty's preamble language argues America should reduce its defensive systems, a passage the White House dismisses as not operative. Moscow, however, reads this as restricting the U.S. missile-defense effort. Russian officials warned if the United States continues to develop missile-defense capabilities, the treaty would be null. The ill-defined Bilateral Consultative Commission established by the agreement will become the primary vehicle for Russia to impose its version of the treaty language. Combine this with the Obama administration's general lack of enthusiasm for missile defense and it's a recipe for disaster.

Thanks to previous moves, Obama has placed Poland and the Czech Republic in a vulnerable position by cancelling the previous administration's plans to put missile defense protection in place in eastern Europe. He bowed to Russian pressure in that decision.

With Russia continuing to intimidate and bully its neighbors and the country run in a mafia-like atmosphere, this is no time to grant a weak-kneed American president a broad path of discretion in our nation's security.

President Reagan was a strong voice for a free eastern Europe and took on the Soviet Union. Thanks to his strong will and principles in action, that country is now called Russia.

President Obama, you are no Ronald Reagan.

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