Secretary James Baker’s support for START adds to Senate prospects for approval of the START Treaty. James Baker brings a wealth of diplomatic and governing experience to his judgment in support of START, Nobody can deny he is one tough minded Republican
Baker uncategorically stated that arms control is a “critical component of our security” as well as that of our allies. In lawyer like precision Baker made a clear and compelling case for START: it strengthens our national security, improves our relations with Russia, reduces our warheads and gives us an advantage in stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Baker dismissed Senate irresponsibles, led by Senator DeMint (R-SC), on their favorite tune: Obama and the liberals want to limit missile defense. Baker took the issue on directly directly by dealing with it on its merits making the case for missile defense as a policy that destabilizes relationships with Russia. Baker lived up to his reputation for bluntness.
Furthermore, he would not dismiss zero nuclear weapons. He listed three criteria that fit the Obama-Clinton-Gates framework: every state that has nuclear capability needs to be at the negotiating table; use proportional reductions to get to the zero goal; verify by having the tools to do it and put no obstacles in the way of verification.
As Al Gore and Warren Christopher know all too well, Baker is a tough trench political warrior. We arms controllers have had large differences with Baker on policy and politics.That makes his testimony all the more powerful. He poses a challenge to Senate Republicans: choose the Irresponsible–Inhofe, DeMint and others– it’s the ghost of Jesse Helms– or follow Baker and Schlesinger who are as tough and as realistic as they come. Baker’s testimony poses a sharper choice for Senate Republicans than they realized going into this effort.
Senators who have to wrestle with this choice include Kyl, McCain, McConnell, Chambliss and Isakson(Ga), Graham (SC), Thune (SD), Burr NC), Hutchison and Cornyn (Tex), Johanns (Nebr), Gregg (NH), Brown (Mass), LeMieux (Fla), Alexander and Corker (Tenn), Hatch and Bennett (Utah), Bond (Mo), Cochran (Ms), Grassley (Ia), Roberts (Ks). Voinovich (Ohio), Shelby (Ala) and Murkowski (Alaska
The Senate target list for getting to 67 by advising and consenting on START has been significantly enlarged. Baker, and Schlesinger before him, are statesman of the first order. Their actions have political consequences. Sensible and responsible Senate Republicans will heed their voices.