"A responsible partnership between the world's two largest nuclear powers that limits our nuclear arsenals while maintaining strategic stability is imperative to promoting global security."
The author of that nonsensical gibberish is US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after the ratification by the US Senate, with a 71 to 26 vote, of the so-called New START Treaty on 23 December, 2010. New START, the third incarnation of the bilateral nuclear arms reduction efforts between the US and the Russian Federation had already been signed on 8 April 2010 between US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev. Understandably, most if not all European newspapers swiftly hailed the US ratification on the 23rd. That barely a day later Russia's Federal Assembly effectively snubbed the Obama Administration by basically declaring "Not so fast, we have AAAAAALLLLL the time!!!", was a bummer of the first order, yet it received no comparable attention. So typical, yet again.
Under terms of the Treaty, the signatories will reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550. They would also have to limit the number of both the deployed and non-deployed delivery systems - ICBM launchers, submarine-based BM launchers, and heavy bombers - to 800. These obligations should be met within seven years after entering into force, i.e. the date that the instruments of ratification enter into force.
The rush by the US Senate to ratify New Start is strange given the, at best, haphazard implementation of its predecessors by the Russian Federation.
As for START I, which entered into force in 1994, Russia's slow implementation can be excused for because of the collapse of the USSR, which came barely five months after the signing of the treaty on July 31, 1991.
The Russians showed no haste whatsoever however with regards to START II, which the US Senate ratified in 1996 but the Duma only four years later.
Then there was SORT, for Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, signed between then presidents Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush on May 24, 2002 in Moscow. Under SORT, both parties agreed to limit their nuclear arsenal to between 1,700 and 2,200 operationally deployed nuclear warheads. The only party that did indeed dramatically reduce its arsenal was the United States, as this graph shows.
According to this FAS report, the US had, as of 2010, around 2,468 operational nuclear warheads - more than the 2,200 as defined by SORT, but significantly less than Russia's 4,650. And now that we are it, I invite the reader to check out this post by fellow blogger Redhunter, who was in times past a Minuteman III Launch Officer. In the post, he deals with the Obama Administration's unasked for public "confession" of the US's nuclear strength of 5,113 warheads in May of this year. As you can see, the number of 2,468 operational weapons above pretty well jibes with the realistic assessment that half of those 5,113 can be considered operational and "ready to use".
Now, if you ask me, would it really endanger US National Security if the US would go it alone on New Start and the Russian Federation's Duma would not even ratify it itself, I would answer NO - provided the US is led by a strong-willed government willing to stand up for itself and its allies. For even if the US had at its disposal only half of its current arsenal, the destructive capacity of it would still be enough to plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust - such is the madness the Nuclear Arms Race has brought the planet in.
The real problem is, once again, that we are witnessing here for the umpteenth time a US govenment that literally can't wait to signal to the world that it wants to lie low and not take up its historical role as the world's policeman any longer. It's an invitation to its enemies to be ever more aggressive. It's Munich in 1938, Dean Acheson in Korea in 1950, and the Brits in the Falklands in 1981 all over again, but with the potential for far more devastating results.
It's not only the fact that the Russian Federation under the Putin/Medvedev tandem can hardly be considered a functioning democracy anymore, and has in fact evolved towards a suspiciously hostile to the west country at that.
But there's also the fact that a country like North Korea, which has recently conducted two military actions with deadly results against its southern neighbor, has openly threatened to use nuclear weapons, of which it is believed it has about twelve, in an armed conflict with the south.
There's the fact that a lunatic like Ahmadinejad has vowed to do the same in a conflict with Israel.
There's the fact that his country, Iran, had as recently as December 19 vowed to deliver and man a medium-range missile base in Venezuela.
The world has become a much more dangerous place than it was in the late sixties and seventies, when the US and USSR agreed upon the SALT I and II accords. Back then, Mutually Assured Destruction provided sufficient guarantee that the world would not be cast in a nuclear winter - because even Russian communists could be trusted to be rational beings after all.
Right now, a nuclear destruction potential has been made available to madmen who don't give a jolt for the lives of millions, not even of their own.
In a geostrategical context like that, speaking not only softly but ALSO throwing away your big stick is the stupidest thing to do.