I do not think you listened to the State of the Union Address very carefully.
How do I know that you were not listening carefully?
Well, I bet you thought Obama said that one of the benefits of the New START Treaty would be that the U.S. and Russia would reduce the missiles pointed at each other. Here are the lines from the speech (emphasis mine):
“American leadership can also be seen in the effort to secure the worst weapons of war. Because Republicans and Democrats approved the New START treaty, far fewer nuclear weapons and launchers will be deployed. Because we rallied the world, nuclear materials are being locked down on every continent so they never fall into the hands of terrorists. (Applause.)”
We are safer! Because of American leadership, fewer Russian nukes will be pointed at us! This is, of course, the same thing we were led to believe in December during the pre-Christmas rush to ratify the Treaty.
Not so fast. Our President is a wordsmith.
The sentences in the speech were devoid of context. Obama never said that the Russians would deploy far fewer nuclear weapons and launchers; he only said that fewer such weapons would be deployed.
In fact, the Russians are crowing, because they will not have to reduce anything. In connection with the ratification by the Russian Duma, the Russian Defense Minister is laughing out loud that the limits in the Treaty are above Russian capabilities, so only the U.S. will have to reduce weapons systems.
As reported by The Telegraph (emphasis mine):
Anatoly Serdyukov, the Russian defence minister, told Russian senators that the treaty would not damage Russia’s interests and would have little impact on its nuclear arsenal however.
“The limits on delivery vehicles and nuclear warheads outlined are substantially more than our current possibilities,” he said. “We do not possess so many (warheads and delivery vehicles).”
The treaty’s future hung in the balance towards the end of last year when Republicans, who are sceptical about the agreement, won more seats in the US Senate. But Mr Obama managed to get the senate to approve it in December in the face of strong resistance. Republican sceptics argued that it gave too much to Russia and was not in America’s national interest.
Mr Serdyukov has appeared to bolster that suspicion in the past, telling Russian MPs that the Kremlin would not have to actually make any real cuts in its arsenal.
On the contrary, he told them it allowed Russia to beef up its nuclear deterrent substantially whereas Washington would have to make cuts in its own stocks.
I understand why you didn’t pick up on this nuance during the speech. It was just a line in the speech, and you had not stopped cheering the news that we had “broken the back of this recession,” and you were wondering what you could do to help “win the future.”
So you are to be excused. But what is the excuse for the Senators, particularly the 13 Republicans, who trusted but apparently did not verify?
As for the Russian Defense Minister, he’s all smiles. He gets that way sometimes.