As Republicans continue to work themselves into a tizzy about the New START treaty’s preambular language on missile defense, there are a number of key points to keep in mind about why this should be a non-issue. I realize that this is all about politics and not the substance at this point, but here goes:
- Our military leadership, including MDA Director O’Reilly, does not believe that the preamble (and the Russian unilateral statement) meaningfully constrains U.S. missile defense plans. The Lugar resolution of ratification reaffirms this.
- The preamble is non-binding. It is not part of the text.
- The recognition of a linkage between offensive and defensive forces is an objective reality that has been a staple of previous arms control agreements.
- Removing the preamble would not change the fact that Russia could still withdraw from the treaty under Article XIV if it sees it fit to do so.
- Amending the preamble would kill the treaty because it would force the U.S. and Russia to go back to the drawing board and renegotiate the treaty.
- There is no evidence that previous Russian complaints about U.S. missile defenses have constrained U.S. missile defense spending or plans. Congressional support for missile defense is too strong for Russian pressure to have any influence in any event.
- For its part, the Obama administration has made it abundantly clear to the Russians that it is moving full stream ahead in its pursuit of the Phased Adaptive Approach for Europe and defenses to protect the U.S. homeland against an attack from Iran or North Korea.