The treaty actually achieves only one real result: to make the United States appear weak.
Inspections do not work. Whether you think Bush lied or was duped into believing Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (as with Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Nancy Pelosi and a host of other politicians who are also on record as holding the same belief) or not, clearly the inspections process failed us. With Russia, a country almost 40 times larger than Iraq, what hope do we have of making inspections work there? Of course, if you could completely trust the Russians to tell us where they store and make all of their nuclear weapons, it would be no problem. But if we could completely trust them, there would be no need for a treaty in the first place.
While START allows for satellite and remote monitoring, it includes provisions for a paltry 18 on-site inspections per year. At only 18 inspections, that leaves an awful lot of those 6 million-plus square miles open for Russia to do anything it wants.
Further, while it is conceivable that nuclear weapons held by the Russians either have fallen or may fall into hands of terrorists, START will do nothing workable to actually change that. It also will not deter any other powers who seek nuclear bombs from continuing their quest for the ultimate weapon. If one thinks Ahmadinejad will curb his ambitions for such power because the United States cuts the number of their nuclear stockpile, then one is, simply and totally, oblivious to reality. But if one thinks Kim Jong-il is more likely to be aggressive in the face of a self-weakened United States, then move to the head of the class.
If the logic of START worked, our police forces should disarm themselves, but what you’d see, rather than a reduction in crime, would be a reduction in the number of policemen who survived encounters with criminals. If the logic of START worked, the IRS should forsake any use of coercive force to collect taxes as, in the absence of such force, Americans would obviously and willingly send in all that the government demanded of them. If the logic of START worked, parents and teachers would no longer have to use the threat of punishment on children because, in the absence of such a threat, children would obviously and spontaneously start acting like adults. If the logic of START worked, Americas could just stop voting as, with the absence of the threat of becoming unemployed, politicians could be trusted to always act in our best interests.
But at this point you may be thinking this is different, that we’re talking about the potential extinction of virtually all life on earth, right? That this is a special case and the normal rules of logic must not apply here? On the contrary, because we are talking about such a dangerous weapon with such serious consequences, logic must apply. It is a sad, but unfortunately an obvious, truth that enlightenment, a commitment to peace and dedication to non-violent means of resolving disputes only works when the other side believes as you do. Playing a game of, say, basketball without cheating while the other side observes no such limitation may result in your losing nothing but the game itself. Your team can at least walk away with your honor and dignity intact. But behaving the same way where weapons that can lay waste to entire cities and kill millions of people are concerned isn’t honorable or dignified; it is suicidal. No, it is worse: it is genocidal.
Some buffoonish politicians claim that the passage of START is a success for the administration and for Democrats in Congress. But weakening the country by reducing the number of weapons themselves, by making America appear weak and by making the decision to willingly soften our own might in the face of an ever more dangerous world is anything but a success. It is a mistake, a New Year’s resolution by our government that will come back to haunt the country in years to come.
Jeff O’Bryant is the author of “Up into the Hills – A Brief History of Catoosa County” and holds two degrees: a bachelor’s in education and a bachelor’s with honors in history. He can be contacted at email@example.com.