Showdown

Barack Obama has decided to take a stand on the New START treaty. That confronts Senate Republicans with a choice: they can help the Iranians, or they can help the President.

I’m betting on the Iranians.

Barack Obama has decided to take a stand on the New START treaty.

That confronts Senate Republicans with a choice: they can help the Iranians, or they can help the President.

I’m betting on the Iranians. Nine Republican votes are needed, and I can’t count them: Lugar, Voinovich, and the three New Englanders only make five. And I’m also willing to bet that the media will report the defeat of the treaty as a failure by the President, not as a dereliction of duty by the Republicans.

Still, I’m for it. And I hope that Harry Reid announces that the Senate’s not going home until it’s had a vote on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, on the DREAM Act, and on the confirmation of Jack Lew.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

12 thoughts on “Showdown”

  1. One friendly amendment, Mark: The Republicans can help the UNITED STATES, or they can help the Iranians. Voting for the treaty isn't about helping Obama, it's about supporting national security. Which the Republicans don't.

  2. "And I hope that Harry Reid announces that the Senate’s not going home until it’s had a vote on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, on the DREAM Act, and on the confirmation of Jack Lew."

    Separately, or as one omnibus "Let's confuse the issue" Act of 2010?

    It's a lame duck session. A not insignificant number of the Senators have just been rejected by the voters. The idea that the Senate must vote, RIGHT NOW, on a treaty which could just as well be voted on in January, is nonsense you'd reject instantly were the partisan labels reversed.

    BTW, just read the treaty. No mention in it of Iran. Nor any relevancy I could see. I haven't had time to read the Protocol yet, (168 pages!), but the word "Iran" does not occur in it, which is suggestive. Care to explain what Iran has to do with this? Have they issued some threat to bomb Washington if we don't ratify the treaty this year?

  3. It’s a lame duck session. A not insignificant number of the Senators have just been rejected by the voters.

    The Constitution (Amendment 20) states that the terms of incoming Senators and Representatives begin at noon on January 3rd. The Senators whom they will replace have the right to serve out the full six years of their terms.

  4. Brett,

    Remember all that stuff Republicans used to spout in the good ol' days of George W. Bush like that doing such and such (or not doing such and such) would "embolden" America's enemies?

    Now, boot ..on .. other … foot.

  5. Brett:

    I think that Mark is alluding to the perspective of Richard Burt, who negotiated START for GHW Bush 20 years ago. He believes that Teheran and North Korea will benefit from a failure of the Senate to ratify the current treaty, in part because weakened relations with Russia, which has helped the US in dealing with Iran, will decrease our effectiveness there. It is like other kinds of externality: not a party to the treaty, but affected by it anyway.

  6. The nuanced idea that one's actions can have indirect consequences occurs to Brett only when he is trying to argue against some "liberal" policy or position.

    If it a conservative policy or position at issue, then a directly referenced correlation must exist.

    Sorta like the heel is connected to the foot-bones and the ear is connected to the head (as opposed to the neck or shoulder) only when a liberal activist is stomping on a conservative "provocateur ."

  7. I'm of the opinion that, if you're going to suggest a nuanced idea, you probably want to *explain* it just a tiny bit, rather than just providing a link to an article behind a pay wall. Though I see it's accessible now.

    So they sky is going to fall if the treaty isn't ratified in the next few weeks? You ARE aware, I hope, that it was signed back in April? Funny how it wasn't urgent that it be acted on, until the voters spoke, and you didn't like what they said…

  8. Brett – wake up, buddy. OF COURSE there's no mention of Iran in the treaty…no point in looking any further there.

    We need Russia's help to manage Iran. Piss them off – for example, reject the treaty – and look forward to Ahmadinejad threatening to lob nukes around the Middle East sometime in the next few years.

    On the other hand, with the huge spike in oil prices that will result from the threat of regional nuclear war, the US just might finally get serious about developing sources of alternative energy.

    So…Republican intransigence on arms control…might ultimately result lasting commitments to clean energy…looks like a win-win to me! LOL!

  9. You know what? I'm not saying the treaty should be rejected. I'm generally in favor of reducing the number of nuclear bombs that might get used in a war. They're not terribly good for my health, after all.

    I'm not entirely sure we "need" Russia's help in dealing with Iran, (Or that it's worth the entire price of keeping Russia happy.) but it would be handy to have, if the price isn't TOO steep.

    What I'm saying is, this treaty sat around for SEVEN MONTHS. It can't sit around for another month and a half? Spare me the fake urgency, the only thing that makes voting on this treaty NOW urgent is that there are a bunch of Senators who've been rejected at the polls, but who still get to vote for a few more weeks.

    On general principles, as a matter of democratic legitimacy, the absolute worst reason for voting on something during a lame duck session is that it wouldn't pass if you waited until the newly elected members were seated.

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