Lame-Duck Atomic Fizzle

November 17, 2010

Lame-Duck Atomic Fizzle

The New York Times is reporting that the "make or break voice" on the New START arms-control pact will block the Senate from ratifying the treaty in the lame-duck session of Congress. Despite intense courting by the White House—twenty-nine meetings and billions of dollars promised for modernizing America's atomic arsenal—Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said there's just not enough time to tweak the bill properly before a vote. And while Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) hopes he can change Kyl's mind, experts are already warning the delay could affect Moscow's willingness to cooperate on other problems like Afghanistan and Iran.

Daniel Drezner admits that his predictions of New START's passage were faulty. And Spencer Ackerman—who apparently foresaw the treaty's demise last March—says the arguments against New START should be "dismissed with a roll of the eye," while Daniel Larison thinks they are "fundamentally dishonest."

As for the consequences, Steve Benen says they will be "severe" and calls Kyl's move "petty partisanship,"  "shameful," and "mindless, genuinely stupid obstinacy." On the Atlantic website, Max Fisher warns of "significant defeat for U.S. foreign policy" if the agreement fails to pass because it would cause leaders worldwide "to think twice before making a difficult deal" with Washington.

On the other side of the coin, Conn Carroll thinks it's the right thing to do, and Prairie Weather hopes the failed ratification is the "final blow" to Obama's presidency. But Matthew Cooper warns GOPers against getting too excited—some real heavy-hitter Republican foreign-policy royalty (including Henry Kissinger and Condi Rice) actually supports the agreement—or it may "allow the administration to sound like the voice of reason."