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July 23, 2010

Mosque at Ground Zero: What Would George Washington Do?
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Surprisingly, we know -- because we know what Washington wrote to the country's first synagogue, in Newport, Rhode Island, in response to their letter seeking protection from an intense climate of bigotry and fear:

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy, a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

Update:  via Robert Wright, give Mayor Bloomberg credit for channeling our first President:

“Government should never — never — be in the business of telling people how they should pray, or where they can pray,” Bloomberg said last week. “We want to make sure that everybody from around the world feels comfortable coming here, living here and praying the way they want to pray.”

July 22, 2010

Oklahoma’s Misguided Crusade
Posted by The Editors

This  post was written by Alexandra Siegel, an intern at the National Security Network

Congressman Rex Duncan [R-OK] has gone to war. Leading his state into battle, Duncan recently launched what he called a “preemptive strike” in the “war for the survival of America.” Earlier this summer Duncan placed an amendment dubbed “Save Our State” on Oklahoma’s November ballot, which would ban local courts from considering sharia or Islamic law in their judgments. According to Duncan, this amendment is necessary to prevent judges from “undermin[ing] those founding…Judeo-Christian… principles of America.” 

While Duncan has certainly professed its urgency, his “strike” is indeed quite preemptive. As the Economist reports, there has not been a single proposal by a US citizen (Muslim or otherwise) to make appeals to sharia law in Oklahoma or any other state. Despite this, Duncan reports that the use of sharia in American courts is “not just a danger” but “a reality.” He argues that we must act now to avoid suffering the same “fate” as our allies across the Atlantic. Sharia law, he maintains, is “a cancer upon the survivability of the UK” which will have equally negative impacts in the US. Ironically, the destructive “cancer” that Duncan warns of is the British application of sharia law in some civil and family court cases when requested by both parties. In these cases, the primacy of the law of the land remains paramount—hardly a cause for hysteria.

Regardless of its absurdity, recent events indicate that Congressman Duncan is not alone in his fight. In reference to the proposed building of a Mosque near Ground Zero, Newt Gingrich asserted: “There should be no mosque…so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization...No mosque. No self deception. No surrender.”  Similarly organizations like the “Virginia Anti-Sharia Task Force” (VAST) which has a self professed mission to “oppose and assist others in resisting the implementation of the radical, barbaric and anti-Constitutional Shariah law in Virginia or anywhere in America,” have sprung up around the country.  

Unfortunately, by alienating Muslim Americans who play vital roles in combating domestic and international terrorism, those who dream up legislation like the “Save Our State” or organizations like VAST do far more to undermine American national security and values than the unfounded threats they warn against. 

As was highlighted at the event that the National Security Network organized with the Center for Ameriacn Progress Action Fund on July 14th featuring Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) and a prestigious panel of experts, including former New York and Los Angeles Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, community organizations and the families of radicalized individuals have shown themselves to be critical actors in disrupting terrorist plots and preventing radicalization. Furthermore, attacking and excluding Muslim American communities not only runs counter to fundamental American values, but also serves to foster the kinds of conditions that breed domestic radicalization. As events like the attempted attack in Times Square indicate, this poses a serious threat to our national security. 

Inflammatory and discriminatory campaigns like the one launched by Rex Duncan not only spark unnecessary fear, but also alienate many Muslims who play indispensible roles in U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Paradoxically, in his fight “for the survival of America,” Duncan dangerously undermines U.S. national security.

Re: Should Liberals be Giving Obama a Break? Part III
Posted by Shadi Hamid

Michael Cohen strongly disagrees with my previous post on why liberals are angry with Obama. Unfortunately, as I suspected, some of what I wrote was misinterpreted. I'll do a quick response now. Michael writes:

The notion that signals or dog whistles to the left should be more important than actual accomplishments (like passing legislation that provides health insurance for 30 million Americans) is crazy to me.

Pretty sure I didn't say that. So let me be clear: at the end of the day, liberals should have supported health care reform in its final and imperfect form (and most did). My post wasn't actually about that. It was about getting there. It was about not accepting constraints as a given. This, as a great philosopher once said, is the "soft bigotry of low expectations." Politics is the art of the possible and, as Michael tells it, so little is apparently possible. It's unclear how accepting these limits without at least testing them is of benefit to the "actual Americans" who are suffering and, presumably, would have benefited from, say, $1 trillion in stimulus spending rather than $800 billion.

It might be said - it often is - that only liberal elites have the luxury of being ideologically pure. Well, it might also be said - if often isn't - that liberal elites also have the luxury of being flexible pragmatists. After all, painful policy compromises - that hurt the middle and lower class - are painful for, well, the middle and lower class. I think it's fair to say that the liberal DC establishment isn't exactly known for its inflexible ideological proclivities. The ones criticizing Obama for "compromising," if that's even the right word, are pretty clearly in the minority.

By this notion, Obama should have fought for the public option - as a signal to the left - even if it risked undermining the entire effort at comprehensive health care reform.

No that's not the correct implication. It's not a zero-sum game. Obama (clearly) signaling that he cared about the public option would not have destroyed the health care reform effort. Because 50+ senators saying they cared about it and most of the House Democratic caucus caring about it did not undermine the "entire effort." In fact, it strengthened the Democrats' bargaining position. 

It's also worth pointing out that liberals' preference for the "public option" wasn't about standing for "principle" at the expense of people. I think a public option is probably a good thing in part because it would help "actual Americans suffering from lack of health insurance" gain access to more affordable care. 

Indeed it is striking that Shadi is standing on principle over an issue (the public option) that he acknowledges he doesn't have a strong, informed opinion about.

My question to Michael would be: when is it appropriate, if ever, to stand on principle? How do we make that call? Where are the red lines? When should liberals fight and when should they back down? 

Afghanistan Exit Strategy Watch
Posted by Michael Cohen

So I'm about to do something decidedly unwise; I'm going to go a bit out on a limb in predicting where things are headed with the US mission in Afghanistan. As you can see from the title above; I have a sneaking suspicion that something has dramatically changed about the national discourse regarding our policy in Afghanistan.

The first and most obvious sign - and perhaps the catalyst for change - was the replacement of Stanley McChrsytal with David Petraeus. As I wrote at the time, President Obama was getting rid of a general who seemed to be operating under the premise that the US could win in Afghanistan (and was in it for the long haul) versus one who has shown a history of more pragmatic behavior and a better understanding of political realities. 

But really since then it feels like the whole narrative on Afghanistan has changed. Once upon a time US options in Afghanistan were reduced, in popular debates, to staying the course or cutting and running. But in recent weeks you've had Robert Blackwill call for de jure partition of Afghanistan; Richard Haass is now arguing that Afghanistan is not worth it and we need to drawdown; Fareed Zakaria is expressing incredulity at the level of US commitment to Afghanistan to combat a minimal threat. Hell even Newt Gingrich said things "won't end well" there. 

And today in the New York Times, David Sanger makes the following observation, "Mr. Obama has begun losing critical political figures and strategists who are increasingly vocal in arguing that the benefits of continuing on the current course for at least another year, and probably longer, are greatly outweighed by the escalating price."

Aside from John Nagl, it's getting harder and harder to find anyone who thinks things are going well, we're going to "win" in Afghanistan or that a course correction is unneeded. (Well of course, the Obama Administration would be the other exception).

So with that backdrop, on Monday I went to hear David Kilcullen at an event hosted by the World Policy Institute here in New York. As you can likely imagine I was loaded for bear, ready to take on Kilcullen's pro-COIN arguments. 

Well he started off by going through all the reasons why you don't want to do counter-insurgency. And this wasn't an Accidental Guerrilla argument; it was a litany of the challenges in trying to capture "hearts and minds" or fighting your way out of a COIN fight or trying to marshall political will or relying on a host country government for support or trying to "out-service provide" your enemy etc. In short, Kilcullen was basically making the basic anti-COIN argument.

So I then asked what seemed like an obvious follow-up observation: knowing all the inherent challenges in fighting a counter-insurgency - and considering the US-imposed timeline for beginning withdrawals from Afghanistan - isn't it pretty much a terrible idea to try and wage a COIN campaign in Afghanistan today. 

And Kilcullen basically said yes, arguing instead that the US should move away from COIN and focus more on stability operations. He talked about the need for a bottom-up rather than top-down strategy and the importance of devoting more resources to stable areas of Afghanistan, rather than the red zones in the south and east.

By the time he was done, I leaned over to a friend and noted that Kilcullen answered my question pretty much the exact same way I would have. 

Now the fact that David Kilcullen and I agree on the hopelessness of doing COIN in Afghanistan is, in of itself, not terribly interesting. After all, if you go back to the fall Kilcullen was sounding some discordant notes about the Obama Administration trying to find some middle way to find a counter-insurgency. He seemed to be arguing that it was an all or nothing. I don't really agree with that, because it sort of assumed COIN or nothing; but to Kilcullen's credit he was willing to push back on the conventional wisdom.

But what is interesting, I think, is that now (in July 2010) Kilcullen seems to have basically concluded that the current mission can't work - and that the hopes for a successful counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan have come and gone. And this is someone who just got done writing a book on counter-insurgency.

Now I'm not arguing that as Kilcullen goes . . . so goes the US military or even the Obama Administration. But it seems increasingly clear that elite opinion on Afghanistan is beginning to shift against the current mission and toward a more limited set of goals. Unless Barack Obama is LBJ re-incarnated I think that has to, at some point, make a difference.

It will be interesting to see how things play out on the ground over the next few months, but I think we've hit a genuine inflection point on Afghan policy - and it leans toward de-escalation, not escalation.

Should Liberals be Giving Obama A Break? Part III
Posted by Michael Cohen

In response to my call for the left to lay off the criticism of Obama, Shadi Hamid makes the following observation:

The Left wants to feel that Obama is on their side, fighting for what they believe on, independent of whether or not that leads to tangible policy/legislative successes. If he can't deliver, fine, but at least put in some effort and say it like you mean it (see public option). Do I have a strong opinion on the public option, as a policy? No. Do I know anyone who has a strong opinion on the public option, as policy? Maybe, but only a few. Do I know anyone who has a strong opinion on the public option, as a signal and as an idea? Yes.

I really like Shadi and I agree with much of what he writes on the Middle East, but I think this is just wrong on a number of levels. The notion that signals or dog whistles to the left should be more important than actual accomplishments (like passing legislation that provides health insurance for 30 million Americans) is crazy to me. By this notion, Obama should have fought for the public option - as a signal to the left - even if it risked undermining the entire effort at comprehensive health care reform. 

While I suppose this would have made some folks happy, what would that have meant for actual Americans suffering from lack of health insurance? Every years tens of thousands of Americans die because they don't have health insurance. Those are the people the the left quite reasonably claims they are fighting for - the notion that their needs should be secondary to the "signal" that would be sent to liberals by fighting for a public option is borderline amoral. For Shadi to say that failure is "fine" . . . well actually that's not fine.

I supported Barack Obama, not because I cared one iota for the public option, but because I thought Obama would be able to pass important progressive legislation, which is exactly what he did in husbanding all of his political capital to pass comprehensive health care reform. I would be willing to venture that the vast majority of people who voted for Obama could care less about the public option; I'm pretty positive that is true of the 40 million Americans who currently don't have health insurance.

That there are folks on the left who dismiss Obama's accomplishment because he didn't fight hard enough for a public option (which had no chance of passing and in the grander scheme of things wouldn't have made a huge difference) shows how out of touch they may actually be with own constituency. Indeed it is striking that Shadi is standing on principle over an issue (the public option) that he acknowledges he doesn't have a strong, informed opinion about.

We sometimes seem to forget sometimes that politics is not an end in itself. Winning an election only matters so far as how you utilize the political power you've gained to affect public policy decision-making. If you're a progressive it's about using the power government to help those who need a helping hand or correct inefficiencies in the free market. That's what this imperfect health care legislation has done.

To achieve that goal there are compromises that must be made along the way. For liberals to not acknowledge that reality or give short shrift to accomplishments that help working and middle class Americans because they don't line up perfectly with their ideological preferences . . . well that just strikes me as a rather naive way to think about American politics.

(Let me also add, for the record, that none of this is meant to suggest that left should not hold Obama's feet to the fire when he screws up or fails to adhere to progressive values. My blogging on Afghanistan is a testament to that belief. We should and we must criticize - nothing could be worse than if the left become cheerleaders for the Administration. But we must also acknowledge and praise victories and temper our criticism with an acknowledgment of basic political realities).

Re: Is It Time to Give Obama a Break?
Posted by Shadi Hamid

Michael Cohen is asking liberals to "give Obama a break." I don't find his case very convincing. And I'm starting to think that "pro-Obama" liberals don't really understand why their colleagues are so disappointed. I've already written about this in a recent Huffington Post piece. So let me reiterate and expand on a couple of the points I made.

First of all, this isn't really about policy. Most people - even people who follow policy - don't particularly care about policy. That's not what gets them angry. That's not even really why/how they vote. Much of it, rather, has to do with the emotional component of politics, something which, I think, some liberals are quick to dismiss. This is very much in keeping with that most annoying post-Bush fetish - "pragmatism" - perhaps the most hollow, misleading, and misunderstood word ever to be bandied about in Washington.

What many liberals believed Obama would do was redefine how partisan and ideological debates were conducted and shift the American electorate leftward. He wouldn't accept Republican framing as a given and insist on presenting liberal policies in those terms. For once, as I wrote then, "we'd have Democrats who were proud of being liberals and didn't feel compelled to apologize for what they actually thought." Note that none of these things actually have to do with legislation or what extent congress blocks the president's agenda. They have to do with perceptions of strength, ideology, and conviction, three things not often considered the strong suit of American liberalism. 

In other words, the Left wants to feel that Obama is on their side, fighting for what they believe in, independent of whether or not it leads to tangible policy/legislative successes. If he can't deliver, fine, but at least put in some effort and say it like you mean it (see public option). How many instances are we aware of where the Obama administration arm-twisted centrist Democrats, making clear the repercussions if they failed to support liberal objectives (again, see public option)?

Do I have a strong, informed opinion on the public option, as a policy? No. Do I know anyone who has a strong, informed opinion on the public option, as policy? Maybe, but only a few. Do I know anyone who has a strong opinion on the public option, as a signal and as an idea? Yes.

July 21, 2010

Had We But World Enough And Time, This Coyness, Senate GOP, Were no Crime*
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Some of the more thoughtful right-of-center voices on the New START Treaty debate have picked up a new theme in recent days:  it's not that we're going to oppose the treaty, it's just that we need more time.

Henry Sokolski wrote:

Assuming the Senate gets down to business now and starts deliberating, ratification early in 2011 is both feasible and reasonable. Trying to short-circuit this process, on the other hand, is more likely to result in more of what we have already have — an unhelpful game of political chicken.

Talking points have gone to Hill offices asserting that the 13 months between submission and ratification of START I in 1991-2 (Bush 1, Democratic Senate, whatever that's worth) should be the norm.  But something rather significant -- the breakup of  the Soviet Union -- occurred after the treaty was signed and submitted, requiring negotiation of an addendum to the Treaty.  I'm wracking my brain on what of similar significance has happened since New START's April 8 signing and May 13 submission to the Senate.  Maybe commenters can help me out.

Perhaps of more relevance:

  • President Reagan's INF Treaty was approved in four months (1988);
  • President H.W. Bush's CFE Treaty was approved in four and a half months, during the collapse of the Warsaw Pact (1991);
  • Treaties for each of the three rounds of NATO expansion have been approved in ten weeks or less by Senates controlled by both parties (1998, 2003, 2008).  

INF and START I, and the first round of NATO expansion, were epochal, strategy-shifting documents that had taken many years to conceptualize and negotiate over harsh criticism and divides.  Yet Trent Lott, George Mitchell, and Harry Reid managed to lead the Senate through what its members seemed to think was sufficient debate in 10-20 weeks.  A document amending the CFE Treaty was approved by a Republican Senate in just five weeks (1997).

It's not as if Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, 8 former Secretaries of Defense and State, 3 former National Security Advisers, the former head of Strategic Command (STRATCOM), and several dozen other national security leaders who have given the treaty full-throated endorsements are going to change their minds.  

Indeed, our allies are already complaining about slowness and people such as Brent Scowcroft and Chuck Hagel are using words like "state of chaos" and "worst possible outcome since World War II" to describe what happens if the treaty doesn't pass promptly.

*Andrew Marvel, "To His Coy Mistress."  All those @Shakespalin tweets inspired me.

Give Barack Obama a Break Redux
Posted by Michael Cohen

Over at the New York Daily News today I expand a bit on my post from a few days ago on why the left needs to give Obama a break:

In the ordinary world of politics, last week might have seemed like a pretty good one for Barack Obama. Far-reaching financial reform legislation passed the Senate and headed to the President's desk. Add that to comprehensive health care reform (the lodestar of the left's domestic agenda), overhaul of the student lending program and an $800 billion stimulus measure, and the first 18 months of Obama's presidency are the most successful period of progressive legislative activity in more than four decades.

Yet even with this list of accomplishments, there is a growing sense of gloom and anger among the President's liberal supporters. 

Bob Kuttner of The American Prospect has accused the President of not governing like a progressive. Eric Alterman says most progressives would agree that Obama's presidency "has been a big disappointment." Enthusiasm among rank-and-file Democrats pales next to that of Republicans.

The left's litany of complaints will be familiar to regular readers of the liberal blogosphere. Obama didn't fight hard enough for a public option during the health care debate; he didn't push for a bigger stimulus; he's sat on his hands in the climate change debate; he's been too cautious on gay rights; he's adopted the fuzzy language of postpartisanship. In short, to liberals, Obama has been a "sellout."

This criticism is misdirected. It ignores the administration's significant accomplishments, but it also fails to take into account the significant institutional impediments that are thwarting Obama and, in, turn, a larger progressive agenda.

 You can read the whole thing here . .  (and no, I didn't choose the headline).

July 20, 2010

America's Unquenchable Defense Spending
Posted by Michael Cohen

With all the talk these days in Washington about the need to trim the deficit it seems one piece of the budgetary pie keeps getting ignored - the defense budget. A couple of weeks ago, the Sustainable Defense Task Force (which includes NSN head Heather Hurlburt and occasional DA blogger Will Harting) put out a new report that offers policymakers a helpful guide for wringing more savings out of the DoD budget. 

The report is linked to here and I've got a short piece over at AOL highlighting some of its conclusions as well as the need to look for defense dollars as a way to trim America's growing deficits:

The calls from Republicans and Democrats for belt-tightening rarely, if ever, seem to extend to the military. Deficit hawks in the House have even demanded that an amendment to the $37 billion Afghanistan spending bill that would allocate $10 billion to prevent teacher layoffs next school year be paid for with offsetting spending cuts. No such demands have been made about war spending, which since 9/11 tops more than $1 trillion. When it comes to paying for America's wars, Washington's attitude has seemingly been, "Put it on the credit card ... preferably the Chinese one."
Yet, outside the nation's entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the defense budget is by far the biggest chunk of the nation's fiscal pie. Aside from money allocated for the Pentagon there is another more than $300 billion in additional outlays for costs like homeland security, military aid, veteran's benefits and military-related interest on the national debt. That's more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money -- or about $3 out of every $10 in tax revenue.
And while the defense budget has been growing for decades, since 9/11 the numbers have jumped significantly. In fact, 65 percent of the increase in discretionary spending has gone to the Department of Defense in the years since 2001. And the money is not just going to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nonwar defense spending makes up more than a third of the increase.
All of this is happening at a time when the U.S. faces no major foreign rival and al-Qaida, according to the nation's intelligence chiefs, has been reduced to a mere 400 to 500 key operatives in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan alone, the U.S. is spending $100 billion and deploying 100,000 troops to face an enemy that has only about 50 to 100 operatives in the entire country.
Trimming the defense budget will not solve the country's deficit woes, but it would certainly help. Moreover, smart spending cuts would allow lawmakers to divert money toward creating jobs and growing the economy -- steps that would, over time, do far more to reduce the deficit.
A recent report by the Sustainable Defense Task Force provides a useful guide going forward. Tasked by Rep. Barney Frank to identify areas of the defense budget that could be cut without compromising U.S. vital interests, the task force found nearly $1 trillion in possible savings over 10 years.
You can read the whole thing here.

July 16, 2010

New START’s Many Strengths: What the Experts Say
Posted by Kelsey Hartigan

The Heritage Foundation recently pulled together a rather entertaining list of quotes about the New START treaty.  It back-fired.  Big time. 

After Senator Jim DeMint fumbled missile defense 101, Senator Lugar responded that he didn't know any "serious thinker" who would suggest what DeMint had just asserted.  Well, based on the lack-luster list of commentary Heritage pulled together, fringe conservatives are struggling to find a "serious thinker" who opposes New START.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has held months of hearings and heard from the nation's most respected military and national security leaders from both sides of the aisle.  Over the course of twelve hearings, Senators have been repeatedly urged to ratify New START as it is essential to our national security.  Here's just a taste of what the experts are saying:


Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:  “The New START Treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership—to include the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of the service chiefs, and the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, the organization responsible for our strategic nuclear deterrent.  For nearly 40 years, treaties to limit or reduce nuclear weapons have been approved by the U.S. Senate by strong bipartisan majorities. This treaty deserves a similar reception and result-on account of the dangerous weapons it reduces, the critical defense capabilities it preserves, the strategic stability it maintains, and, above all, the security it provides to the American people.” [Secretary Gates, 5/13/10]

James Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense for Presidents Nixon and Ford and the Secretary of Energy for President Carter: “It is obligatory for the United States to ratify.”  [James Schlesinger, 4/29/10]

Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “I am pleased to add my voice in support of ratification of the New START treaty and to do so as soon as possible. We are in our seventh month without a treaty with Russia." [Admiral Mullen, 6/17/10]

Dr. James Miller, Principal Deputy Defense Undersecretary for Policy:  “The New START Treaty is strongly in the national security interest of the United States. The Department of Defense fully supports the treaty.” [James Miller, 6/16/10]

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN):  “I support the New START treaty and believe that it will enhance United States national security.”

Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisor to President Nixon and Secretary of State to Presidents Nixon and Ford:  “In deciding on ratification, the concerns need to be measured against the consequences of non-ratification, particularly interrupting a [bilateral arms control] process that has been going on for decades, the relationship to the NPT, and to the attempt to achieve a strategic coherence. And so, for all these reasons, I recommend ratification of this treaty...In short, this committee's decision will affect the prospects for peace for a decade or more. It is, by definition, not a bipartisan, but a nonpartisan, challenge.”  [Henry Kissinger, 5/25/10]

Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Samuel Berger, Frank Carlucci, Chuck Hagel, John Danforth and many other prominent national security experts:   “We, the undersigned Republicans and Democrats, support the New START treaty.”  [30 Bipartisan Leaders via Partnership for a Secure America, 6/24/10]


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen:  “The New START deals directly with some of the most lethal of those common challenges - our stockpiles of strategic nuclear weapons.  By dramatically reducing these stockpiles, this treaty achieves a proper balance more in keeping with today's security environment, reducing tensions even as it bolsters nonproliferation efforts.  It features a much more effective, transparent verification method that demands quicker data exchanges and notifications... In other words, through the trust it engenders, the cuts it requires, and the flexibility it preserves, this treaty enhances our ability to do that which we have been charged to do: protect and defend the citizens of the United States.”  [Admiral Michael Mullen, 3/27/10]

General Kevin Chilton, STRATCOM Commander:  “As the combatant command responsible for executing strategic deterrence operations, planning for nuclear operations, and advocating for nuclear capabilities, we are keenly aware of how force posture and readiness changes can affect deterrence, assurance, and overall strategic stability. The New START agreement, in my view, retains the military flexibility necessary to ensure each of these for the period of the treaty.” [General Chilton, 4/22/10]

Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush: “The New START Treaty makes its modest but nonetheless useful contribution to the national security of the United States and to international stability.” [Stephen Hadley, 6/10/10]

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu: “New START is an important part of President Obama's nuclear security agenda. If ratified and entered into force, the treaty will commit the United States and the Russian Federation to lower levels of deployed strategic nuclear weapons in a transparent and verifiable way. This will increase stability between our countries, while demonstrating our joint commitment to a nuclear nonproliferation treaty.” [Secretary Chu, 6/17/10]

Former Secretary of State James Baker:  “Although I am not an expert on the nuances of the proposed New START treaty, it appears to take our country in a direction that can enhance our national security while at the same time reducing the number of nuclear warheads on the planet. It can also improve Washington's relationship with Moscow regarding nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles, a relationship that will be vital if the two countries are to cooperate in order to stem nuclear proliferation in countries such as Iran and North Korea.” [James Baker, 5/19/10]

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:  “This is a treaty that if ratified will provide stability, transparency and predictability for the two countries with more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons. It is a treaty that will reduce the permissible number of Russian- and U.S.-deployed strategic warheads to 1,550, a level not seen since the 1950s.” [Secretary Clinton, 6/17/10]

General Kevin Chilton, STRATCOM Commander:  “I believe that there are three reasons why the New START agreement represents a positive step forward. First, New START limits the number of Russian ballistic missile warheads and strategic delivery vehicles that can target the United States. Second, New START retains efficient flexibility in managing our deterrent forces to hedge against technical or geopolitical surprise. And third, New START will re-establish a strategic nuclear arms control verification regime that provides access to Russian nuclear forces and a measure of predictability in Russian force deployments over the life of the treaty.”  [General Chilton, 6/16/10]

Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:  “The chiefs and I believe the New START treaty achieves an important and necessary balance between three critical aims. It allows us to retain a strong and flexible American nuclear deterrent. It helps strengthen openness and transparency in our relationship with Russia. It also demonstrates our national commitment to reducing the worldwide risk of a nuclear incident resulting from the continuing proliferation of nuclear weapons.”  [Admiral Mullen, 6/17/10]


General Brent Scowcroft (Ret.), President George H.W. Bush's National Security Advisor:  “The principal result of non-ratification would be to throw the whole nuclear negotiating situation into a state of chaos.” [Brent Scowcroft, 6/10/10]

James Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense for Presidents Nixon and Ford and the Secretary of Energy for President Carter:   Failure to ratify this treaty “would have a detrimental effect on our ability to influence others with regard to, particularly, the nonproliferation issue.”  [James Schlesinger, 4/29/10]

Former Defense Secretary William Perry: “If we fail to ratify this treaty, the U.S. forfeits any right to leadership on nonproliferation policies.”  [William Perry, 4/29/10]

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:  “The consequences of not ratifying this treaty would have very serious impacts on our relationship with Russia, and would frankly give aid and comfort to a lot of the adversaries we face around the world.” [Hillary Clinton, 6/17/10]

Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisor to President Nixon and Secretary of State to Presidents Nixon and Ford:  “This START treaty is an evolution of treaties that have been negotiated in previous administrations of both parties. And its principal provisions are an elaboration or a continuation of existing agreements. Therefore, a rejection of them would indicate that a new period of American policy had started that might rely largely on the unilateral reliance of its nuclear weapons, and would therefore create an element of uncertainty in the calculations of both adversaries and allies. And therefore, I think it would have an unsettling impact on the international environment.”  [Henry Kissinger, 5/25/10]


Director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly:  “The New START Treaty actually reduces previous START treaty's constraints on developing missile defense programs in several areas.” [General O'Reilly, 6/16/10]

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: “The treaty will not constrain the United States from deploying the most effective missile defenses possible nor impose additional costs or barriers on those defenses.” [Sec. Gates, 6/17/10]

Commander of U.S. Strategic Command General Chilton:  “As the combatant command also responsible for synchronizing global missile defense plans, operations, and advocacy, this treaty does not constrain any current missile defense plans.” [General Chilton, 6/16/10]

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy and Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Ash Carter:  “Missile defenses have become a topic of some discussion in the context of the Senate's consideration of the New START Treaty with Russia. The fact is that the treaty does not constrain the U.S. from testing, developing and deploying missile defenses. Nor does it prevent us from improving or expanding them. Nor does it raise the costs of doing so. We have made clear to our Russian counterparts that missile defense cooperation between us is in our mutual interest, and is not inconsistent with the need to deploy and improve our missile defense capabilities as threats arise.” [Flournoy and Carter via WSJ, 6/17/10]
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