Corker Bucks GOP START Talking Point, Thanks Kerry For Holding So Many Hearings

A new Senate GOP argument against the New START treaty is not really an argument at all — it is merely a call for delaying ratification. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) who heads the Senate Republican Policy Committee put out a document that pointed out that previous arms control treaties took a while to get ratified. Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) echoed these comments and attacked Senator John Kerry, who heads the Foreign Relations committee, for trying to “rush” the treaty through.

But yesterday in a Senate hearing on START, Republican Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) rebuffed Kyl’s claims of rushing, when he said that: “I appreciate so much that the chairman [Senator Kerry] continuing to have so many hearings.” Watch it:

The hearing yesterday was the sixth hearing Kerry has held. Only two Republican Senators bothered to show up — Senator Richard Lugar (who supports START) and Corker. None of the other Republican Senators on the committee showed up to question George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush’s National Security Advisers, Stephen Hadley and Brent Scowcroft. The hearing was over so fast that it lasted little more than an hour. If Republican Senators really felt that Kerry was rushing the treaty through the committee you would think they would actually show up to the hearings.

The fact is that nothing is being rushed and that by making the standard “slow down” argument the Senate GOP has only confirmed that they have no real leg to stand on in opposing this treaty. Kerry is holding extensive hearings featuring almost exclusively prominent Republican officials.

Claims that because other treaties took longer, the New START treaty should take longer is also bogus. What Thune and Kyl fail to note was that for the first START treaty a little thing happened called the collapse of the Soviet Union. That, as one would expect, significantly impacted the ratification of the treaty. The nine months it took to ratify the Moscow Treaty in 2002 was due to the incompetence of the GOP run Senate, not due diligence — the treaty was just three pages long.

But furthermore, this treaty needs to ratified as quickly as possible, since there currently is no legal basis for the continued verification and monitoring measures needed to watch over Russia’s nuclear arsenal. We are losing information on the Russian nuclear arsenal and this gradual erosion of intelligence, will result in an erosion in trust, which would result in a destabilizing nuclear situation.