Both the U.S. and Russia were on track to ratify the new START treaty by the end of this year, further reducing nuclear arsenals in both countries, and giving each country the ability to inspect the other country's arsenal. But last week, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-AZ, who always portrays himself as strong for national security, said he may not be able to support START ratification in this lame duck session.
At the time, Kyl's statement seemed to take aback both Democrats and Republicans. After all, the new START has the full endorsement of the U.S. military leadership, as well as numerous former Defense secretaries and national security advisers, many Republicans among them. Many current Republican lawmakers were, at least until last week, for the treaty.
Kyl pretended to have some misgivings about money budgeted for weapons modernization. As it turns out, all his questions and the questions of other lawmakers, had been answered in detail, and answered again, and again, all through the summer and into the fall.
Last week, noted analyst Steven Pifer of the Brookings Institute gave Kyl the good old American benefit of the doubt, opining that the senator may have been engaging in some horse-trading to extract more spending on modernization.
Pifer said for Kyl to step on the brakes now would really open him to a charge of not acting in good faith.
Well, he's open to that charge now and, although probably not the first, I'd like to add my name to those who are making it.
Kyl is acting in bad faith. He is acting against the interest of the United States and of his constituents. He is acting solely for partisan political reasons. He doesn't deserve his high position. The people of Arizona ought to be ashamed. He's a disgrace.
And he's not alone. It soon became apparent that Kyl was a cat's paw for the so-called leadership of the Senate Republicans. Sen. Mitch McConnell and his cabal of stuffed shirts are clearly supportive of Kyl's obstructionism, with the only possible reason being to make Obama look bad.
These guys, these GOP poobahs, have not had an original idea since John McCain supported campaign finance reform, which McCain himself has since backed away from and his Party, through their booster club known as the Supreme Court, made a complete joke.
The Party of Lincoln threw Lincoln under the bus while the bus was still horse-drawn. Now, with their obstructionism on the new START, they are throwing their supposed avatar, Ronald Reagan, under the Acela Express.
Reagan said Trust, but verify, regarding arms agreements with the Russians, and that has been the mantra, the wise mantra, of this nation's arms treaties with Russia ever since.
Now, because of the Senate Republicans, we and the Russians are in the uneasy position of being forced to trust without being able to verify.
The START treaty does several very good things. It cuts down on actual nuclear stockpiles - getting rid of tons of unneeded weapons that might otherwise find their way into terrorist hands or sit around waiting for an accident to happen.
It encourages the other nations of the world to follow the example of the super-powers and hold to their nuclear non-proliferation agreements.
And the START treaty allows verification. That is, once the treaty is in place, the U.S. will be able to inspect the Russian weaponry and determine what they have, and the Russians will be able to do the same regarding U.S. weapons.
Both sides will breathe easier, and the world will be a safer place, when both sides have that knowledge, which they do not now have.
And what did that old warrior and maverick and champion of the military have to say on the START controversy?
McCain did not know if it was possible for the Republicans to take up the START Treaty before the end of the year, because there's going to be a desire, understandable desire on the part of Republicans, to do basically nothing except tax cuts.
Tax cuts. By which he means, extending the Bush era tax cuts for the super-wealthy, since they are the only tax cuts being threatened. That's what the GOP is all about. That's the only thing they are about -- make sure the five percent who have more money than most nations on earth get still more money, while national security and all the rest of us go to hell.
At the moment, the Republican caucus is tied up in a situation where people don't want to make choices, said Sen. Richard Lugar, R-IN, a maven on national security who has been urging his party to do the right thing regarding START. No one wants to be counted. No one wants to talk about it.
Lugar said that by delaying a vote until the new Senate is seated next year could very well lead to further delays, through hearings and markups. Lugar said ratifying the treaty now is immensely important for national and global security.
But you're not a billionaire, Dick, so your colleagues aren't listening.