Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter's cold war revival

'Tis the season to snuggle up indoors with hot tea, warm cookies and a nuclear warhead or two.
The Senate met behind closed doors yesterday to discuss the START accord which would ammend the previous treaty that expired in 2009. Certain players from both sides are against the ammendments which would limit each country to 1,550 warheads and 700 launchers. In a miraculous show of muscle, Democrats shot down (pun intended) three proposed GOP changes to the accord, perhaps as a direct reaction to Obama's apparent jello-spine strategy.
Members of the GOP, including speaker Mitch McConnell see the 30% cut in nuclear protection as an attack on the US safety guard against the supposed still evil giant, Russia. Other Republicans complained that the treaty was too slap dash and asked for more time to deliberate, ringing in the new year with their new friends on the side of the no vote. Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs volleyed back remarking on how Republicans appear to need little time to oppose small details in the treaty while still needing more time to look it over...an anomoly he isn't interested in entertaining. So, as Democratic and Republican senators rally back and forth, the Obama administration has been busy making phone calls and press releases, desperate to get this through the doors of the Senate before the end of the lame-duck sessions.
As you might imagine, the Senators involved in this debate were around when the Cold War was still in full swing. It isn't strange that their resistance to a new treaty comes with a grain or two of mistrust sprinkled over their patriotic ideals of "we've got the guns, son."
The US's foreign policy, particularly regarding WMD's has been one of supreme unfairness. We are opposed to any country starting or maintaining a nuclear program while we sit on a nice pile of them. Isn't that kind of like pointing a gun at someone and demanding that they put their gun down...?
However, Russia isn't exactly angelically diplomatic either. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is quoted as saying "The Start agreement, which was drafted on the basis of strict parity, completely meets the national interests of both Russia and the United States. It cannot be reopened, becoming the subject of new negotiations."
Clearly, many on both sides are content to dig their heels in and stay at the political limbo they currently find themselves in: not enemies, not friends, just hanging out on the fence, mutually assured that no one will do something too stupid.
Well, that sounds lovely.
Here's my question: why the fuck aren't we including the Russians in these negotiations? This isn't a foreign policy change that affects just how we act on the global stage. This is a direct partner treaty. What if we were the only country at the treaty of Versailles? How does that make any sense? Honestly, I'm not incredibly surprised at Russia's response. I wouldn't be a big fan of people deciding how my security defenses were to be handled without including me in the discussion. That's how we roll tho unfortunately. We'll sit behind closed doors, come to a conclusion (or not) and then let whoever is directly affected know about it later. That's good diplomacy, that.
Needless to say, since the expiration of the treaty in 2009, both sides have been overly paranoid about what the other side is doing. Instead of bringing them in and discussing this over a diplomatic meeting of the giants, we close ourselves up as if it were pre-WWI isolationism all over again.
Well, it's not 1916. It's not 1960 either. The Cold War is over...or it should be. The 30% cut is a good idea, a necessary step down from confrontation we both need. The ways in which we are going about working for this step down is diplomacy 101 retarded. We need to be able to imagine a world in which Russia and the US co-exist, minus the constant pissing contest.
That seems like wishful thinking at this point, but hope springs eternal I suppose. It would be nice if we could learn from our mistakes before we step up on the global stage with nuclear warheads in our pockets...but now I'm just asking too much.
Best of luck to you behind those closed doors. We'll be out here with the warheads, keeping them warm in the Cold winter stalemate.