In the Arena

Start Stopped

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Today, we have further confirmation of the Republican Party’s slide toward policy kookery: Senator John Kyl is “delaying” consideration of the Start treaty that the Obama Administration has negotiated with Russia. This treaty is supported–unanimously–by the U.S. military and widely by prominent Republicans (like former Secretary of State George Schultz). Kyl is playing with fire here.

Over the past year, the Russians have been extremely helpful in assorted foreign policy realms. They’ve cooperated on easing transport of U.S. soldiers and equipment into Afghanistan. They’ve made a major sacrifice–a $13 billion hit in arms sales–by joining the UN sanctions against Iran. Furthermore, the Start treaty helps reduce, secure and monitor the Russian nuclear stockpile. Its opponents tend to be half-baked leftovers from the Bush Administration, like John Bolton, who oppose negotiations and treaties under almost any circumstances.

If, in response to Kyl’s flagrant irresponsibility, the Russians choose to backslide in any of these areas, it could have dire effects. Russia’s role in the Iran sanctions is particularly important. Even the domestic political benefits of his position are dubious: most Americans want to see cooperation overseas and an unrelenting focus on our economic problems at home. (Most Americans have little sympathy for the neoconservative warmongering of people like Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer–the “bomber boys” who are on record in favor of war with Iran.)

Kyl’s foolishness is compounded today by statements made by Roger Ailes, the Fox News czar, about the President, whom he considers “a left-wing socialist”:

He just has a different belief system than most Americans.

This is nauseating twaddle. I would suspect that Obama’s belief system is much closer to that of most Americans than the paranoia and lies peddled by Ailes’s mouthpieces like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, who represent–on a good day–the views of maybe 30% of all Americans. For more on this topic, please read Tom Friedman’s excellent column today about the Ailes-promoted disinformation that the President’s trip to India would cost $200 million per day.

If Ailes actually does consider a moderate Democrat like Obama a “socialist”–and I don’t for a moment believe that this post-modern Barnum does–the question arises: What does that make him? I’d suspect that Roger would probably have been fairly comfortable as Francisco Franco’s Minister of Propaganda–or perhaps, given his baloney quotient, a member of the Catalonian anarchists. But nothing respectable, to be sure. Nothing American.