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The NY Times‘s Overblown Reaction to New START

Yesterday I suggested that there was no need for Republicans to get too worked up over New START, because it won’t compromise America’s nuclear deterrent. The same advice applies to liberals touting the treaty: Keep calm, everyone. It’s just not that big of a deal.

Yet to read the New York Times editorial page today, you would think that this is the most important issue since … well, pretty much ever. In a seriously overwrought editorial, the Times claims: “The world’s nuclear wannabes, starting with Iran, should send a thank you note to Senator Jon Kyl. After months of negotiations with the White House, he has decided to try to block the lame-duck Senate from ratifying the New Start arms control treaty.”

Talk about over the top. How on earth will Kyl’s opposition to the treaty help Iran and other rogue states? The Times again: “If the treaty founders, it would … do huge damage to American credibility just as Mr. Obama is making progress rallying many countries — including Russia — to press Iran to curb its illicit nuclear program.” That’s quite a stretch: the Times assumes that if the treaty passes, Russia will take harsh steps to crack down on the Iranian nuclear program. I wish it were so, but I very much doubt it. Russia has its own reasons for not cracking down on Iran, with which it has a longstanding business relationship, and that is unlikely to change no matter what happens with New START.

The rest of the Times‘s editorial is just as unconvincing — it consists primarily of hyping this modest treaty out of all recognition by claiming that it’s “central to this country’s national security” and that “the stakes couldn’t be higher.” Actually, as I argued yesterday, the stakes are pretty low — which is why I don’t think it will do any harm for the GOP to pass the treaty in return for Obama’s commitment to modernize our nuclear arsenal. But the bullying tone of the Times‘s editorial is the sort of thing that is likely to drive Republicans into the anti-ratification camp.


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