By Kingston Reif
September 24, 2013
Sen. John Barrasso criticizes the U.S.-Russia plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, primarily on the grounds that Russia played a big role in negotiating it (“Why the Russians Can’t Be Trusted in Syria,” op-ed, Sept. 16). In doing so, he fails to offer an alternative solution and paints a misleading picture of U.S.-Russia cooperative arms-control efforts.
The Cold War has been over for more than 20 years, but some still seem paralyzed by a counterproductive “us versus them” mentality. Sen. Barrasso doesn’t explain why the Russia-brokered deal, even if imperfect, will leave us worse off than military strikes or greater U.S. involvement in the civil war.
In addition, he wildly misconstrues the benefits to U.S. security of the 2010 New Start treaty. The treaty, which has the overwhelming support of U.S. military leaders, verifiably limits the number of Russian nuclear weapons that could instantly target an American city.
Sen. Barrasso also conflates questions about the accuracy of Moscow’s declarations under the Chemical Weapons Convention with noncompliance, and ignores the fact that Washington has missed its chemical weapons destruction deadlines.
Implementation of the proposed U.S.-Russia deal to rid Syria of chemical weapons won’t be easy, but it is an important diplomatic achievement providing the best hope to reduce the Syrian chemical-weapons threat.
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