Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) has been the leading Senate Republican urging the upper chamber of Congress to ratify the New START arms control treaty with Russia. However, the Republican obstructionism that has become so routine throughout the past two years of President Obama’s tenure is standing in the way. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has been the face of the GOP hamstringing and despite the fact that this non-controversial treaty — one that closely mirrors the one President Reagan signed with the Soviet Union — has been thoroughly debated in the Senate for nearly a year, Kyl told the New York Times, “If they try to jam us [in the lame-duck session], if they try to bring this up the week before Christmas, it’ll be defeated.”
Lugar has been reluctant to criticize his colleagues’ obstruction. When asked last week if they were just playing politics, Lugar said, “I am not ascribing motivations to anybody.” But other Republicans don’t seem to be holding back. Brent Scowcroft served as national security adviser to two Republican presidents and has been pleading with Congress to ratify New START. Profiling Lugar’s awkward position vis-a-vis other Senate Republicans on this issue, Politico reports today that Scrowcroft isn’t being as diplomatic as Lugar on the GOP’s incentive for holding up START:
In an attempt to rally bipartisan support for the treaty, the White House has enlisted the kind of GOP foreign policy wise men that Lugar exemplifies – among them former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and James A. Baker. But they have had no success with members of their own party, and it has left them scratching their heads over the source of the GOP opposition.
“It’s not clear to me what it is,” said Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush who noted that this START treaty is not very different from previous ones negotiated and ratified under Republican presidents. “I’ve got to think that it’s the increasingly partisan nature and the desire for the president not to have a foreign policy victory.”
The GOP opposition to START has become so laughable that even some are invoking Reagan. Indiana state senator Mike Delph, who may challenge Lugar in a primary, criticized Lugar’s support for START, saying last week that Obama and Lugar “need to remember Reagan’s philosophy of Peace through Strength.”
Outside of Scowcroft, the obvious partisanship surrounding the Kyl-led obstruction hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Wonk Room’s Max Bergmann notes that “the nation’s major newspapers, members of the military and even many Republicans have publicly denounced Kyl and Senate Republicans for their START objection.”