Center head honcho John Isaacs has a timely piece in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists today on the impact of the recent midterm elections on key nuclear and other top national security issues over the next two years. John writes:
While the campaign locked in politicians’ views on budget deficits and health care, there was minimal debate on national security issues. This could signal that there might be more latitude for negotiations on issues such as nuclear weapons reductions and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
For John’s full analysis on “What the 2010 elections mean for national security issues” click here.
Below are some highlights from the piece:
The issue of nuclear reductions was not a key issue during the campaign; largely, candidates touched upon the topic of New START only when presented with specific questions about the treaty.
Eight Republican senators are needed for Senate approval of New START; 14 will be needed for the CTBT.
Cutting military spending
During their election campaigns, the new Republicans virtually unanimously called for reductions in federal budget spending. While most of that fire was trained on domestic spending and entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, there is newfound Republican inclination to consider cuts in the Pentagon budget as well.
There has been talk that Republicans will press for a harder line on Iran. On November 6, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham expressed strong support for military strikes on Iran.
Non proliferation spending
If Congress makes across-the-board reductions to match levels in previous years, as is likely, the Defense Department and Energy Department nuclear safeguard programs are likely to suffer.
War in Afghanistan
Opposition to US troops in Afghanistan has been bubbling in Congress, with opposition led by Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Jim McGovern and outgoing Wisconsin Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold.