I was trying to figure out how to mock this terrible, terrible, terrible Mitt Romney op-ed on New START without calling Fred Hiatt a “neocon hack job” (again).
But Peter Crail, on my Facebook wall, said it much better than I can:
Apparently under a Romney administration we can look forward to taking ICBMs out of their silos, converting the silos to interceptor sites, and mounting the ICBMs on bombers. Because that’ll show the Russians who gets out-negotiated.
If you are interested in wading through all mistakes in the Romney oped, Paul Podvig has a very patient response.
Late Update | 8:01 am 7 Julyb 2010 John Kerry has a response to Romney in the Washington Post that, among other things, demonstrates the advantages of having access to professional staff who actually know what the hell they are talking about:
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.
Similarly, Romney is flat wrong in claiming that the Bilateral Consultative Commission is broadly empowered to amend the treaty with regard to missile defense. The language is clear that any amendment proposed by the commission would have to be ratified just like a new treaty.
Another red herring is the notion that the treaty allows Russia to escape limits on the number of strategic nuclear warheads. The same limits apply to the United States and Russia, including the ability to count each nuclear-equipped heavy bomber as a single warhead. The new treaty’s approach to counting bomber weapons is consistent with the strategic relations between the United States and Russia and works to our advantage because our fleet has a great nuclear-weapons capacity.
Romney’s claim that Russia can mount an unlimited number of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) on bombers is a strategic concept that was rejected in the 1960s because submarine-launched missiles were deemed far more effective. If Russia were foolish enough to pursue this path, we could either get the new weapons incorporated in the treaty or withdraw. His argument that the treaty abandons limits on multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles, known as MIRVs, is equally flawed; the Bush administration decided it did not care what missiles Russia retained when it negotiated the 2002 Moscow Treaty. Similarly, concerns about restrictions on converting launchers for ICBMs and those launched from submarines for missile defense purposes are misplaced because those conversions would be more expensive and less effective than alternatives and thus unnecessary.