To START or Not to START

Former CIA director R. James Woolsey worries in the Wall Street Journal that the Obama administration has become too "eager for a deal" with Russia. He claims the terms of the New START arms control agreement is "substantially more lax" than its predecessor, signed in 1991. In particular, Woolsey warns that the newer version is basically unverifiable and does not put enough limits on Russia's capabilities, while at the same time failing to explicitly give the United States the right to modernize its nuclear wapons, build nonnuclear weapons systems and deploy missile defenses. Finally, he says the Senate should only pass the pact if the administration can address each of these issues directly.

Needless to say, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates disagree. Their joint op-ed in the Washington Post urges the Senate to approve the agreement without delay and specifically rebuts Woosley's fears about verification, modernization, missile defense and conventional capabilities.

Also in the Post, editor Fred Hiatt thinks the administration has swapped the July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan with the more-recently-emphasized date of December 2014, although "the American people have yet to be clued in." Hiatt notes that "deadlines, whether in 2011 or 2014, carry risks" by emboldening enemies and encouraging "regional players to jockey against one another."

Meanwhile, überpundit Fareed Zakaria reports from Singapore that President Obama's Asia visit "was largely successful" in starting the American "hedge"—Zakaria carefully dismisses analogies to Cold War–era containment of the Soviets—against China. The president was really laying the "building blocks to balance Chinese expansionism," not pushing trade and jobs as advertised. Which means that the failure to secure the free-trade agreement with Seoul or concessions on Beijing's currency wasn't really that big a deal.

And speaking of analogies, Asia and economics, Robert Samuelson fills the space below Zakaria by comparing Japan's "lost decade" to America's current economic woes, saying that Tokyo's experience shows "There is no substitute for vigorous private-sector job creation and investment."