The Heritage Foundation has been arguing for a while that a lot of “experts” oppose the New START treaty. They noted that “one of the most egregious arguments peddled by New START proponents is that no reasonable arms control expert is opposed to New START. That is blatantly false.” After hearing testimony from countless GOP witnesses that New START is vital, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) demanded to the hear the testimony from the New START opponents promoted by Heritage.
But the bench of “experts” opposing the treaty is extraordinarily short. Ben Loehrke at the Prague Project put together a fantastic chart that shows how few opponents there are.
That’s right 70 to 6. Loehrke adds further:
Over Seventy former high-level government officials and senior military officers have come out in support of New START. In addition, every administration official supported the treaty, from Hillary Clinton, to Bob Gates, and, representing the entire uniformed military, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Michael Mullen. Heritage rounded up six – five George W. Bush appointees and a former Senator.
The claims of expert opposition to START are eerily similar to claims of expert scientific opposition to climate change. In fact, my colleague Brad Johnson produced a chart almost identical to the one above on climate change. Just as the weight of expert analysis is behind the scientific consensus that climate change is a fact, so too is there a vast bipartisan consensus among bipartisan national security experts that New START is vital to our national security.
Much of this explains why, when Heritage fellows write about the START treaty, they repeatedly site only other Heritage fellows when looking for back up. There isn’t really anyone else out there.
Frankly, the almost total lack of expert opposition to the treaty is one of the reasons why the GOP leadership in the Senate is not opposing the treaty on its merits. Direct opposition to the treaty would only expose the GOP in the Senate to legitimate attacks that they are extremists. This is why Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ), as well as other GOP Senators, say they are hopeful the treaty can be passed.
These Senators however driven by a mix of nuclear neocon ideology and pure partisan politics are seeking to delay the treaty vote by tying their support to something that has nothing to do with the START treaty. As Walter Pincus noted today in the Washington Post, Republicans supported the arms control treaty negotiated under Bush and showed little concern for things they now claimed to be concerned about. While this shows Senate Republicans to be total hypocrites, it also shows that the arguments of true outright treaty opponents are so weak even the leadership of the Senate GOP won’t make them.