Part of the problem for the GOP is that the vast majority of Republican Senators don’t actually oppose the treaty. They are just trying to stall and as a result they allude to vague “concerns.” But since they aren’t opposing the actual treaty, just opposing having a vote on the treaty (which has only been sitting in front of the Senate for eight months), they come across incredibly incoherent.
Case in point was Senator Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) appearance on Fox News today. This was the second time in two days where Senator Hatch appeared on TV to talk about START. Yet Hatch’s comments have been shockingly incoherent. While it is one thing for a Senator to be asked a question out of the blue that he is unprepared for, in this case the fundamental purpose of the interview was to talk about the START treaty.
Hatch was asked simple straightforward questions, such as “will the treaty make us safer.” And in response — after stammering about the treaty impacting “certain defense approaches” and preventing us from “defense mechanisms” (what in the world does that mean?) — he actually felt the need to admit that he didn’t know what he was talking about.
FOX ANCHOR: What is your take on this treaty overall?
HATCH: Well, I’m still studying it. I haven’t made up my mind on it yet. I am concerned about a number of things about not being able to fully check up on and verify matters with regards to their particular lines of weapons. Some of the telemetry problems bother me quite a bit. There are other aspects about it that i’m just very concerned about. I do hope that we can find a treaty that we can do between the two countries because it would be a good thing but i’m worried about this treaty. For instance there’s a real question whether we can do defense of the United States approaches — certain defense approaches under this treaty. I’m going to have to have those types of things resolved before i can vote for it.
FOX ANCHOR: …Is it your believe that this treaty will make us more safe or more vulnerable as a country?
HATCH: Some think it’s going to make us more vulnerable because it doesn’t cover very important aspects. At least one aspect of it prevents us being able to have defense mechanisms. It’s just a matter of real concern. I’ve got to really study it more to be able to be up on it as well as i should, but i’m concerned about some of the verification provisions, some of the telemetry provisions. I come it from the point of wanting to support a good relationship between Russia and the United States.
While this could be dismissed as just one Senator getting lost, the fact is that Republicans have been incredibly incoherent when talking about the START treaty. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), who referred to the threat from the Soviet Union twice yesterday, also provided a vague nonsensical justification for opposition, as was pointed out by Andrea Mitchell.
Senator Hatch, I have an idea. Instead of going on television to talk about a treaty that you haven’t yet taken the time to “study,” why don’t you study the treaty a bit and get some answers to his concerns? Better yet just read the rest of this post Senator and you will have your stated concerns answered. Senator you will find that:
1. The New START treaty has more inspections per Russian nuclear facility than the original treaty. Furthermore, if there is no treaty, there is zero, zip, nadda, nothing in terms of verification or monitoring. So Senator, saying you are concerned about verification means you should support the treaty, since if you are concerned at all about Russian nuclear activity you would want a renewal of on the ground nuclear inspections right now.
2. In regards to your concerns about “telemetry,” which is essentially the data that a missile sends back after it is tested, there are no problems. The old START treaty had a provision to share this data from missile defense tests. But because of technological advances, we don’t need to share the data because we can get it independently. So this is a red herring. But knowing that it would be used by Republicans, the Administration pushed to include these data exchanges in the final treaty. So there is NO issue with telemetry.