My Very Own HTM – The New START Treaty

Was the New START Treaty a national security issue?  Why or why not? 




1. What does the cartoon say about the New START treaty?

Constitution (Wolny paper, 2010)

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution codifies treaty-making roles and responsibilities as a joint endeavor between the executive and legislative branches:

He (the President) shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; (The United States Constitution)

 Article I enshrines Congress’ responsibility to “provide for the common defense”. (The United States Constitution) It remains the Senate’s responsibility to ensure that the President’s national security objectives are in keeping with the best interests of the United States.  Arms control treaties merit particular attention because they reduce the nation’s ability to defend itself from foreign attack. (Fisher 1997)  Historically, the President negotiates treaties, and presents them to the Senate for its “advice and consent”. 



  1. What does the US Constitution tell us about the President’s authority to make treaties?
  2. What does “advice and consent” mean?


Chairman John Kerry Speech (The

No threat to our national security is greater than the danger from nuclear weapons. Responsible political figures across the spectrum need to support every step possible to control the spread of nuclear weapons. New START is one of those steps. This view is shared by most who have taken the time to understand the treaty and the international context in which it was negotiated. Rather than pander to politics, we need to ratify this agreement quickly. Every day without its verification regime is a day without a clear view of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

From the first Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in April, Richard Lugar, the panel’s ranking Republican, and I have made clear that there is no room in this debate for domestic politics. Serious people may differ over elements of the agreement, but after 10 hearings we have produced a public record that makes the case for ratification and rejects the narrow, uninformed political objections advanced by Romney.

Let’s examine the key objections: Romney says that New START impedes our ability to build missile defenses against attack from rogue countries. This is a myth. The treaty will have no impact on our ability to build ballistic missile defenses against Iran, North Korea or other threats from other regions. The Obama administration is free to proceed with missile defense plans it announced last year.

Like others unfamiliar with previous arms control agreements, Romney warns that Russia could use language in the treaty’s preamble as a pretext for withdrawal if the United States builds up its missile defense. In a word, baloney. The preamble is not legally binding. Every arms control treaty since the Kennedy administration has allowed either party to withdraw if it felt its national interests were jeopardized. Surely Romney would not want to give up that right.


  1. What is Chairman Kerry’s position on the New START Treaty?
  2. What are his reasons for supporting the treaty?
  3. How does verification relate to a safer nuclear arsenal?

The Republican Position (

McCain argued it is not appropriate to link the development of missile defenses to negotiations to reduce the nearly 25,000 offensive nuclear weapons possessed between Russia and the United States.

“It’s not appropriate for today, when the United States and the Russian Federation, for all of our differences, are not devoted to one another’s destruction and when one of the greatest threats to our national security comes from rogue states, like Iran and North Korea, which are developing nuclear weapons and increasingly better means to deliver them,” McCain said.

McCain and Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), one of the lead GOP critics of the treaty, worry it could hamper the nation’s development of a ballistic missile shield.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said Republican concerns were overstated because the preamble does not have a binding effect on the signatories.

Kerry opposed McCain’s amendment because he said it would have forced the treaty and its preamble to be renegotiated, delaying Senate ratification for months.

“All of this argument that they have been going on for several days now is about language that has no binding impact on this treaty,” Kerry said.

”If you change it, it requires this treaty to go back to the government, the Russian government, and then we don’t have this treaty, we don’t have any verification for whatever number of months follow,” he said.


  1. What are the key Republican concerns with New START?
  2. What are the goals of Senators McCain and Kyl in regard to New START?
  3. How has Senator Kerry responded to the Republican stance?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s