Don’t start on START — until next year

Ken Blackwell Former Ohio Secretary of State
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Americans can tell when we are being lied to. We’re being lied to when Harry Reid tells us that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia is a bit of unfinished business that the Senate must ratify because it’s “urgent.” Urgent? If that had been the case, why didn’t Mr. Reid bring the measure up last summer? Or last fall?

Last summer, too many Americans might have had fresh memories of the “Hamburger Summit” that President Obama held with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Putin’s puppet met with our commander-in-chief at a hamburger joint in Northern Virginia just a week after ten Russian spies had been arrested and booted out of the country. They didn’t even get their Miranda warning from Attorney General Eric Holder. Nor did we get a chance to interrogate them thoroughly.

I hope President Obama kept a better eye on his onion rings at that hurry-up summit than he did on our nation’s secrets. I suspect that the president also picked up the tab: So Medvedev can now say that he literally ate the president’s lunch.

How different this lax attitude toward national security is from the old days of the Cold War. In May 1960, President Eisenhower refused to apologize for having sent Francis Gary Powers flying over the USSR in a U-2 spy plane. Powers, working then for the CIA, was shot down. Soon, his cover story unraveled and the U.S. was embarrassed internationally by Khrushchev, the Communist Party boss. Khrushchev demanded an apology from Ike before he would attend the scheduled Paris Summit Meeting. Ike steadfastly refused. The United States was forced to take such measures, he said, because of the closed nature of Soviet society.

Russian society has not greatly improved since 1960. Their post-Soviet era constitution gives all power to the president of the Russian Republic. Vladimir Putin used that power ruthlessly when he was president. He uses it still, now that his cat’s paw — Medvedev — sits in the president’s chair. Putin is an ex-KGB agent. He had a statue of the dreaded Felix Dzershinsky — founder of the Soviet secret police (Cheka) — replaced at the ministry of internal security in Moscow. It was the tearing down of Iron Felix’s statue that had signaled Russia’s brief dawn of liberty back in 1991. The replacement of the statue tells you all you need to know.

Two of those in the Senate who are trying to rush through the START treaty before Christmas have their own stories to tell. Here’s what Claire Berlinksi writes in City Journal:

And what of Vadim Zalagdin? [He was a top-level Soviet official whose records were translated by former dissident Vladimir Bukovsky.]

Here is Zalagdin’s description of his dealing with our current vice president in 1979.

“Unofficially, [Senator Joseph] Biden and [Senator Richard] Lugar said that, in the end of the day, they were not so much concerned with having a problem of this or that citizen solved as with showing the American public they do care for ‘human rights.’ …In other words, the collocutors [Biden and Lugar] directly admitted that what is happening is a kind of a show, that they absolutely do not care for the fate of most so-called dissidents.”

The heroic Bukovsky was one of those dissidents, subjected to imprisonment in psychiatric hospitals of the USSR.

Have things changed in 31 years? Do Biden and Lugar care today what happens to Russian journalists? Forty-one of them have been murdered since Putin came to power. Anyone who delves too deeply is in danger.

Has anyone connected the dots on current Russian policy? Putin is Iran’s number one trading partner for nuclear materials. Iran — whom we have identified as the leading terrorist regime on earth. Iran — whose drive for a nuclear weapon is universally said to be the most dangerous foreign policy crisis in the world. Russia is helping the mullahs.

How about Putin in Venezuela? Putin is trading arms to socialist dictator Hugo Chavez, who may well trade them off to Mexican narco-gangsters — just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

What, exactly, in Russian diplomacy merits “urgent” attention to the treaty that Russia so obviously wants? What have the Russians done to deserve favored nation treatment by the U.S. administration?

Opposition to this treaty has focused, quite rightly, on how it might constrain U.S. missile defense. Barack Obama has wanted to limit U.S. missile defense since he was an undergraduate at Columbia. His thesis — said to be on Soviet nuclear disarmament — has not been made public. Wouldn’t that thesis be most relevant now?

Stanley Kurtz, in his important book, Radical-in-Chief, places Barack Obama irrefutably at the Socialist Scholars Conference in New York’s Cooper Union in April 1983. That was the largest meeting of Marxists in America that year.

The Socialist Scholars Conference was held just one month after President Reagan labeled the USSR an “evil empire.” And just weeks after he announced his own plans for a missile shield.

President Obama has never disavowed his socialist convictions. Even the Washington Post refers to him as a socialist. Isn’t it time we had a full airing of all of this before we ratify a treaty with the rulers of the Kremlin?

Ken Blackwell is a visiting professor with Liberty University School of Law and senior fellow with the Family Research Council. He is the co-author of The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency.