Reset. New START. Ukraine.
President Obama’s “spectacular lack of leadership on the world stage” was evident long before the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
In 2010, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was touted as the crown jewel of the Administration’s “reset” policy with Russia. When Mr. Obama ratified the treaty on February 2, 2011 (with Hillary Clinton and John Kerry standing behind him — literally and figuratively), he called it the “cornerstone of our relations with Russia.” Sadly, he was right. The New START treaty left Russia with “a several-fold numerical advantage over the U.S. in tactical nuclear weapons.”
In 2010, conservatives had legitimate, substantive concerns with the treaty, concerns President Obama, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and current Secretary of State and then-Senator John Kerry ignored and rebuffed. President Obama’s vision of how New START would play out was totally unrealistic.
Hillary Clinton’s erroneous remarks in a testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the treaty were no better:
A ratified New START Treaty would also continue our progress toward broader U.S.-Russian cooperation, which is critical to other foreign policy priorities, including dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, cooperating on Afghanistan, and pursuing increased trade and investment. Already, the negotiations over this treaty have advanced our efforts to reset the U.S.-Russian relationship. There is renewed vigor in our discussions on every level, including those between our presidents, our military leaders, and with my counterpart, Foreign Minister Lavrov. Our approach to this relationship is pragmatic and clear-eyed. And our efforts—including this treaty—are producing tangible benefits for U.S. national security.
In his opening statement, then Senator John Kerry deployed similar logic:
By verifiably reducing the number of U.S. and Russian weapons, we are strengthening the stability and predictability of our nuclear relationship. More than that, we are strengthening our diplomatic relationship, making it more likely that we can secure Moscow’s cooperation on key priorities like stopping Iran’s nuclear program.
As Heritage observed two years later, “Since New START entered into force, the Russians have announced the most massive nuclear weapons build-up since the end of the Cold War.”
Today, Russia’s power play in Crimean peninsula sheds light on how ruefully mistaken Obama, Clinton, and Kerry were regarding the relationship between the United States and Russia, and the effect New START would have on that relationship. These three U.S. “leaders” lead us to a less secure, weaker America and helped evoke the aggression Russian President Vladimir Putin’s is demonstrating today toward Ukraine.
In a 2010 debate about New START Joseph Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund said:
The Republican national security establishment outside of the Senate is totally behind this treaty. That’s why I think the President is going to prevail, because there aren’t any really substantive arguments against this. It’s all politics right now — trying to deny the President a victory, trying to make him look weak and incompetent.
President Obama needed no help then and absolutely needs no help now making himself look weak and incompetent, though his ideologically identical buddies, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, have been happy to oblige on that front.