Late Start for New START Treaty
The Senate went home in September without having ratified the New START treaty. What is wrong with them?!
FCNL’s Legislative Representative for nuclear disarmament, David Culp, pointed out to me the other day that anyone can vote to ratify the New START treaty, and he suggested that, since the Senate failed to act, FCNL’s Committee might want to take a vote to ratify the New START treaty.
I pointed out that Quakers don’t vote to make decisions; we use the Quaker discernment process to achieve a consensus. David then conceded that an FCNL vote for ratification of the New START treaty wouldn’t compel the U.S. (and Russia) to abide by it, anyway. Only the Senate can make that happen.
Hoping that the Senate will ratify the New START treaty in the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress is not enough. We have to go face to face with each of our Senators and convince each one that the Senate should vote on the New START treaty in the upcoming lame-duck session. It is late but not too late to ratify the New START treaty.
Fortunately, on Senator Durbin’s (IL) list of three legislative priorities for the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress, is the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). David Culp tells me that our 14-4 win in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in September, can be duplicated on the Senate floor in the lame-duck session.
“We have the votes!” David told me. He has an important “but.” We have the votes to ratify the New START on the floor of the Senate, but we have to get the treaty to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Majority Leader Reid (D – NV) has to give it floor time, and Minority Whip Kyl (R – AZ) has to decide not to flood the treaty debate with dozens or even a hundred amendments, which would kill the ratification effort.
We need FCNL constituents to tell their Senators to urge their leadership to get to a vote on ratification of the New START before then end of the lame-duck session.
Why do we at FCNL care about the New START treaty? It won’t achieve complete and general disarmament. It won’t get the world to zero nuclear weapons. Why work on it? In August, in response to those questions, I wrote the following statement:
August 11, 2010
FCNL Executive Secretary’s Statement on the New START treaty
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) strongly endorses the New START treaty and urges the U.S. Senate to ratify it expeditiously.
We at FCNL seek to live our lives in tune with a governed universe and at one with the force of truth and the power of love. The roots of our religious practice run deep into our Judeo-Christian tradition and, today, these roots find nourishment from the variety of religious experiences of the many peoples of the world with whom we live and work.
Our religious experience convinces us that it is not God’s will for us to threaten each other with weapons of mass destruction. We unite with the 1955 statement of the Meeting for Sufferings of London Yearly Meeting (of Friends), “To rely on the possession of nuclear weapons as a deterrent is faithless; to use them is a sin.” Instead of relying on nuclear weapons, we seek a world free of war and the threat of war. We believe that peace is possible through peaceful means.
Although the New START treaty, like its predecessor START, falls far short of FCNL’s goal of complete and general nuclear disarmament and although we see the treaty not as a disarmament but rather as an arms control measure, we support it. The New START treaty, if ratified by the Senate, will resume U.S. and Russian inspections and verification of deployed strategic nuclear weapons and will further limit their numbers from 2,200 down to 1,550 on each side.
As important as reducing the number of deployed strategic weapons, the resumption of inspections and verification will, we believe, help to reduce the perception of threat between the U.S. and Russia and will increase confidence on both sides that peace is normal and can be maintained and built upon. Threat reduction and confidence building between God’s children in the U.S. and Russia may help to prevent a new nuclear arms race. What could please God more?
Let’s get this ratification done and move on to the next steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons. — JV