Now that New START has finally been passed by the Senate – which was going to happen at some point or another – conservative commentator Jacob Heilbrunn observes that the Republicans damaged their national security credibility by opposing the treaty, and have given the Obama administration another opportunity to trumpet the Russia relationship as a main foreign policy success (if for example the GOP chose to calmly back New START, and instead beat up on Obama over other aspects of the reset, they could have avoided this outcome).
The biggest problem the GOP will face, however, is the Gelb prophecy. President Obama will ballyhoo his modest treaty as a major accomplishment, one achieved in the teeth of retrograde Republican opposition. He looks like the statesman; his detractors like leftovers from the Cold War. Before the GOP embarks upon a fresh neocon crusade in foreign affairs, it might think about the results of the last one in Iraq. The New Start treaty does not jeopardize American security. Quite the contrary. The treaty enhances it.
America’s task isn’t to keep building new weaponry, but to keep it out of the hands of its foes. The treaty helps accomplish that goal. America has more than enough weapons to, as Sen. Bob Corker vividly put it, blow its enemies to “Kingdom Come.” As Kissinger himself expostulated in 1972, “What in God’s name is the meaning of nuclear superiority?” Forunately, the era of supersizing is over. Lean and mean should be America’s new credo.