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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why Is The Russian Defense Minister Smiling?

I do not think you listened to the State of the Union Address very carefully. 

How do I know that you were not listening carefully?

Well, I bet you thought Obama said that one of the benefits of the New START Treaty would be that the U.S. and Russia would reduce the missiles pointed at each other.  Here are the lines from the speech (emphasis mine):
"American leadership can also be seen in the effort to secure the worst weapons of war. Because Republicans and Democrats approved the New START treaty, far fewer nuclear weapons and launchers will be deployed.  Because we rallied the world, nuclear materials are being locked down on every continent so they never fall into the hands of terrorists. (Applause.)"
We are safer!  Because of American leadership, fewer Russian nukes will be pointed at us!  This is, of course, the same thing we were led to believe in December during the pre-Christmas rush to ratify the Treaty.

Not so fast.  Our President is a wordsmith.

The sentences in the speech were devoid of context.  Obama never said that the Russians would deploy far fewer nuclear weapons and launchers; he only said that fewer such weapons would be deployed.

In fact, the Russians are crowing, because they will not have to reduce anything.  In connection with the ratification by the Russian Duma, the Russian Defense Minister is laughing out loud that the limits in the Treaty are above Russian capabilities, so only the U.S. will have to reduce weapons systems.

As reported by The Telegraph (emphasis mine):
Anatoly Serdyukov, the Russian defence minister, told Russian senators that the treaty would not damage Russia's interests and would have little impact on its nuclear arsenal however.

"The limits on delivery vehicles and nuclear warheads outlined are substantially more than our current possibilities," he said. "We do not possess so many (warheads and delivery vehicles)."
The treaty's future hung in the balance towards the end of last year when Republicans, who are sceptical about the agreement, won more seats in the US Senate. But Mr Obama managed to get the senate to approve it in December in the face of strong resistance. Republican sceptics argued that it gave too much to Russia and was not in America's national interest.

Mr Serdyukov has appeared to bolster that suspicion in the past, telling Russian MPs that the Kremlin would not have to actually make any real cuts in its arsenal.

On the contrary, he told them it allowed Russia to beef up its nuclear deterrent substantially whereas Washington would have to make cuts in its own stocks.
I understand why you didn't pick up on this nuance during the speech.  It was just a  line in the speech, and you had not stopped cheering the news that we had "broken the back of this recession," and you were wondering what you could do to help "win the future."

So you are to be excused.  But what is the excuse for the Senators, particularly the 13 Republicans, who trusted but apparently did not verify?

As for the Russian Defense Minister, he's all smiles.  He gets that way sometimes.

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  1. When in the film Gosford Park, the American movie director coyly refuses to reveal the ending to his movie, Maggie Smith says, (hear her voice please), "Well, you understand, none of us will ever see it." Can you hear her voice? No imagine her saying about the sotus, "Of course, he doesn't really believe anything he says."

  2. Yet another "WTF" moment in that speech. (links: http://www.facebook.com/notes/sarah-palin/obamas-message-to-america-the-era-of-big-government-is-back-now-help-me-pay-for-/494999858434 and http://gatewaypundit.rightnetwork.com/2011/01/whoa-sarah-palin-on-obamas-wtf-speech-wtf-was-right-on-video/ )

    It is morning in America. Wake up, people!!

  3. The Manchurian Candidate stikes again.

  4. Somebody help me out here.   Who were the 'the 13 Republicans' that voted for 'New START Treaty'?

  5. Heh... Serdyukov? He's a bundle of laughs. See?


    Actually, given how much trouble he's gotten from inside the military, he must be happy to have something to make the Generals feel better.

  6. From this story in The CAPITOLIST at Politics Daily by Patricia Murphy:

    "The Republicans voting yes were Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Robert Bennett (Utah), Scott Brown (Mass.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Judd Gregg (N.H.) Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska.), Olympia Snowe (Maine.), and George Voinovich (Ohio).

    Also from the story:

    "There isn't time to lay out all of the problems that I think that those of us who oppose the treaty still believe are present in the treaty," [Senator John] Kyl [R-AZ] said.


    "This treaty is just another example, another symptom, of a foreign policy that sends a message of timidity, even ambivalence, not only about our own security, but about America's leadership role in a very dangerous world," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).


    Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) agreed. "I think it makes us less secure, not more secure as a nation," Vitter said. "It's clear to me that President Obama went into negotiations willing to give up almost anything to get a treaty and that basic posture produced what it always will -- a bad deal of us."


    As senators gathered for the final vote, Sen. John Kerry, the treaty's champion in the Senate and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thanked the Republicans who joined the Democrats in supporting the pact that could not have ratified without bipartisan backing, and gave his closing argument for it.

    "In the final analysis, regardless of where you stand on the START treaty, this is one of those rare times in the United States Senate . . . when we have it in our power to safeguard or to endanger human life on this planet," Kerry said.

    *"Thanks for the anchor!"

    (*Former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole's sarcastic quip to a reporter, when he was asked what he had to say to the White House, back in August of 1974, in response to their belated admission that Richard Nixon had indeed been aware of the Watergate Cover-up.)

  7. @Trochilus     Thanks for that summary AND the URL.   Quite a Republican rogues gallery that is!   Those folks need to be shamed and vilified.   (I can still say that, can't I)?

  8. If -- hypothetically speaking, of course -- our beloved President actually despised the United States of America and was doing everything in his power to weaken or destroy his country without getting tossed out of office ... what would Obama be doing differently?

  9. I also understand the Russians have stated that they don't agree with the treaty definitions used for US passage, and therefore the entire agreement is up in the air, because the two parties are agreeing to substantially different concepts, couched in the same language.