High Stakes on START

An editorial in the Guardian argues that a failure on behalf of the U.S. Senate to ratify the START treaty would cause significant damage to the president’s ability to be taken seriously on the world stage.  However the authors fail to see that this is an attractive outcome to his political opponents … yet I have no idea what Russian opinions of NATO have to do with it.

Without the ability to deliver the deals he makes with foreign leaders, not just Russian ones, this US president will become window dressing on the international stage. No one, least of all Europe, will benefit from that.

The reset button has not transformed Russia into a liberal democracy, but it has started to change attitudes. A Pew poll published two weeks ago found that the proportion of Russians who viewed Nato favourably had risen from 24% to 40%. This helps the liberal wing of advisers under President Dmitry Medvedev’s protection when they argue that Nato is not plotting to encircle Russia. Mr Medvedev will be attending the Nato summit that opens in Lisbon today more as a potential participant than as a reluctant neighbour. A paper published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies outlines how such participation might work – by initiating Russian co-operation on missile defence, upgrading the level of interoperability between Nato and Russia, and reforming the Nato-Russia Council. All Europe would benefit from this, and the cold war that still rages in the minds of some senators could at long last be consigned to the annals of history.