As you know, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and the Heritage Foundation have been frequent guests on NoH. In the spirit of continued friendship, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on their latest contributions to the New START debate.
In today’s Roll Call, Sen. Inhofe argues that the 15 hearings held to date on New START in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee have been unbalanced because they have yet to include a witness who opposes the treaty. Let’s set aside for the moment the fact that no sooner had the ink dried on Obama and Medvedev’s signature of the treaty than Sen. Inhofe declared his opposition to it (which belies his suggestion that he could make a more informed decision if only he could hear from witnesses who oppose the treaty.) Let’s also set aside the fact that the Senator has only showed up for two of the thirteen public hearings on the treaty to date, including neither of the hearings with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, and STRATCOM Commander Kevin Chilton.
The Senator’s core argument – that the witness list has been unbalanced – is ludicrous. Just look at the witnesses who have testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on New START…
Under the category of “Republican” and/or “assumed their position under the Bush administration” and/or “worked for a Republican Senator” and/or “is a lab director” there is: former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, Gates, Adm. Mullen, former Secretary of State James Baker, for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Gen. Chilton, Missile Defense Agency Director Patrick O’Reilly, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, DTRA Director and former Lugar staffer Ken Myers III, Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Director George Miller, and Sandia National Laboratory Director Paul Hommert. If you’ve lost count, that’s a total of 15 witnesses.
Under the category of “Democrat” there is: former Secretary of Defense William Perry, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation Rose Gottemoeller, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Jim Miller, Secretary of Defense Representative to Post-START Negotiations Ted Warner, and Mort Halperin. That’s a total of 6 witnesses.
If you eliminate current administration officials and the lab directors, the ratio is 7 Republicans to 2 Democrats.
Thus, if there’s an imbalance, it’s heavily in favor of Republicans and former Bush administration officials! Clearly the overwhelming bipartisan support for New START doesn’t matter to Sen. Inhofe; indeed it seems to have really upset him. Not even Joseph and Edelman, who Inhofe commends for raising concerns about the treaty, said that they oppose the treaty.
In sum, the Senator should be forced to answer a simple question: Why does he believe that our senior military leadership, all of whom assumed their current positions under the Bush administration, and statesmen in his own party have no idea what they’re talking about?
Apparently the State Department’s New START verification assessment caused a bit of a stir at Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on New START, specifically the statement in the unclassified summary of the assessment that “any Russian cheating under the treaty would have little effect, if any, on the assured second-strike capabilities of U.S. strategic forces.” Sen. McCain interpreted this trivial statement of fact to mean that we’d cavalierly accept any Russian cheating on the treaty. But forget Sen. McCain. Baker Spring smells a conspiracy:
The State Department’s report…effectively concedes that the Administration really favors a “minimum deterrence” strategic nuclear force, where a large disparity in the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads in favor of Russia is determined to be insignificant.
Baker, you can’t be serious!? There’s simply no way one could read the Nuclear Posture Review or anything else the administration has said and come away from it thinking that the U.S. intends to start unilaterally disarming or that it would stand idly by if Russia began producing hundreds of additional missiles like salami.
A General Suggestion to the Heritage Foundation
The degree to which Heritage will say just about anything to cast doubt on New START is pretty amazing, though perhaps not surprising. For example, yesterday Peter Brookes stated: “So we will cut our strategic nuclear warhead levels to 1,550, but Russia will keep 2,100. How does that advance American security?” Also yesterday, Baker Spring opined: “Russia plans to maintain in excess of 2,000 real warheads [under New START].”
But today Kim Holmes alleges: “Experts predict Russia’s strategic forces will drop to 1,000 warheads, which is below the 1,550 level of accountable warheads in New START, with or without the treaty.” It would be nice if Heritage could at least get its story straight, even if they continue to have a little trouble with the facts!