Jeffrey LewisMocking Romney

I was trying to figure out how to mock this terrible, terrible, terrible Mitt Romney op-ed on New START without calling Fred Hiatt a “neocon hack job” (again).

But Peter Crail, on my Facebook wall, said it much better than I can:

Apparently under a Romney administration we can look forward to taking ICBMs out of their silos, converting the silos to interceptor sites, and mounting the ICBMs on bombers. Because that’ll show the Russians who gets out-negotiated.

Sheer genius.

If you are interested in wading through all mistakes in the Romney oped, Paul Podvig has a very patient response.

Late Update | 8:01 am 7 Julyb 2010 John Kerry has a response to Romney in the Washington Post that, among other things, demonstrates the advantages of having access to professional staff who actually know what the hell they are talking about:

Let’s examine the key objections: Romney says that New START impedes our ability to build missile defenses against attack from rogue countries. This is a myth. The treaty will have no impact on our ability to build ballistic missile defenses against Iran, North Korea or other threats from other regions. The Obama administration is free to proceed with missile defense plans it announced last year.

Like others unfamiliar with previous arms control agreements, Romney warns that Russia could use language in the treaty’s preamble as a pretext for withdrawal if the United States builds up its missile defense. In a word, baloney. The preamble is not legally binding. Every arms control treaty since the Kennedy administration has allowed either party to withdraw if it felt its national interests were jeopardized. Surely Romney would not want to give up that right.

Similarly, Romney is flat wrong in claiming that the Bilateral Consultative Commission is broadly empowered to amend the treaty with regard to missile defense. The language is clear that any amendment proposed by the commission would have to be ratified just like a new treaty.

Another red herring is the notion that the treaty allows Russia to escape limits on the number of strategic nuclear warheads. The same limits apply to the United States and Russia, including the ability to count each nuclear-equipped heavy bomber as a single warhead. The new treaty’s approach to counting bomber weapons is consistent with the strategic relations between the United States and Russia and works to our advantage because our fleet has a great nuclear-weapons capacity.

Romney’s claim that Russia can mount an unlimited number of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) on bombers is a strategic concept that was rejected in the 1960s because submarine-launched missiles were deemed far more effective. If Russia were foolish enough to pursue this path, we could either get the new weapons incorporated in the treaty or withdraw. His argument that the treaty abandons limits on multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles, known as MIRVs, is equally flawed; the Bush administration decided it did not care what missiles Russia retained when it negotiated the 2002 Moscow Treaty. Similarly, concerns about restrictions on converting launchers for ICBMs and those launched from submarines for missile defense purposes are misplaced because those conversions would be more expensive and less effective than alternatives and thus unnecessary.


  1. Allen Thomson (History)

    My question is who is the intended audience of Romney’s bizarre screed given where it was published. Best guess: he meant to send it to the Washington Times and someone in his office didn’t get the address right. :-)

  2. anon

    mocking Obama would get you more laughs. Well, throw in a few NASA remarks would help.

  3. Kingston (History)

    Love it!

    And don’t forget bringing the peacekeeper back!

  4. Nick (History)

    His number one mistake is that the missile defense system in Europe, contrary to what has been said by Washington officials and others on the this website, was really not meant to stop Iran’s non-existent missiles. In reality it was planned to provide defensive and perhaps in the near future offensive measures close to the Russian territory.

  5. Bill

    OK I get it – Bush & Republicans bad, Obama & Democrats good. It would be great if there was a blog that would help educate the public about Arms Control!

  6. Robert Merkel (History)

    Vote Romney, because under Obama we only get to burn the Russkies to a radioactive crisp nine-and-a-half times instead of ten.

  7. anon

    The “New START” – is that referring to all those Russian spies popping up all over the place :)

  8. anon (History)

    I agree that Kerry’s response benefits from the wonders of an educated staff that knows how to write well. The key question, however, is how many good staff hours were burned yesterday, in the need to respond to Romney, when there were so many more important things to spend staff time on.

  9. anon (History)

    “Because that’ll show the Russians who gets out-negotiated.”

    Romney’s errors and Kerry’s “back atcha” aside. It’s pretty hard to argue that the U.S. were the better negotiators.

  10. KNS (History)

    Here’s another response to Romney

  11. MK (History)

    Yet another reason to worry about America’s standing in the world.
    Substance doesn’t matter. Facts don’t matter. Logic doesn’t matter. Posturing does.
    Are there enough Republican Senators who understand how much damage would result if they ‘just said no’ to this treaty? We shall see.

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