In the effort to undercut a new START treaty, conservatives led by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) asserted that the Obama administration, in its haste to get a deal done before receiving the Nobel prize in Oslo, would undercut US national security interests by conceding to a number of Russian demands simply to get a deal done. In other words, Jon Kyl, his staff, and conservative commentators like Fred Barnes, accused the President of the United States of not putting country first. This despicable claim has now been totally discounted.
The Russians, it seems, did try to use the Nobel award to extract more concessions from US negotiators, knowing that the United States wanted to have a deal in place prior to the President’s trip to Oslo. But the Obama team refused to give in, and indicated a number of weeks ago that an agreement should not be expected.
According to Strobe Talbott the President of the Brookings Institution and notable Russia expert, the Obama team refused to budge:
The Russians may have overplayed their hand, figuring (incorrectly) that Obama was so eager for a deal that he’d grant them last-minute concessions to get it before he goes to Oslo. That’s the most likely explanation for why their military toughened its stance on some unresolved issues involving verification and monitoring. The Pentagon—in part to demonstrate that it isn’t going to be pushed around—hardened its own stand. Obama himself was miffed at the Russian squeeze play. There will still almost certainly be a treaty, although later than Obama would have liked—perhaps when he returns to Europe for the Copenhagen climate summit next week. If that happens, the Russians will have achieved nothing with their eleventh-hour tactical stonewalling. They will only have complicated negotiations on an agreement that is at least as much in their interests as the U.S.’s and slightly soured an otherwise solid relationship between their president and Obama.
So after claiming repeatedly that the President was going to sell out to the Russians, don’t conservatives like Kyl owe the President an apology for questioning his patriotism?