Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Likely Republican hopefuls oppose nuclear treaty

Republicans weighing a White House bid fiercely oppose a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia and stand in stark contrast to two presidents on a critical foreign policy issue.

WASHINGTON // Republicans weighing a White House bid fiercely oppose a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia and stand in stark contrast to two presidents, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George HW Bush, on a critical foreign policy issue.

Potential candidates are to the right of several prominent Republicans, including former Republican secretaries of state such as Condoleezza Rice as well as Senator Richard Lugar, an arms control expert and the top Republican lawmaker on the Foreign Relations Committee.

"It's an obsolete approach that's a holdover from the Cold War and a bilateral treaty without taking into account multilateral threats," former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich said yesterday, becoming the latest potential 2012 candidate to object to swift passage of the treaty without changes.

Mr Gingrich joins Sarah Palin and other outspoken critics of the pact. The bright line between would-be Republican challengers and the incumbent Democrat raises the likelihood that the New START treaty will become a 2012 issue and its success or failure will reverberate as the next presidential campaign takes shape.

Mr Bush gave the treaty's prospects a potentially significant boost yesterdayy, saying "I urge the United States Senate to ratify the START treaty."

The likely candidates' far-right positions on a major national security issue may play well in the Republican primaries where conservatives dominate. But the stances could make the eventual Republican nominee's pitch harder come the general election, when swing voters will be critical.

Mr Obama, conversely, is making moves that could appeal to independent voters.

The president is working across the aisle with Republican leaders in Congress to ensure that before lawmakers leave Washington for the holidays, the Senate ratifies the treaty he signed with Russia in the spring. The president also has indicated that the treaty is a higher priority than other issues his Democratic base cares about, including immigration reform and allowing gays to openly serve in the military.

Republican presidential hopefuls have weighed in on the treaty as Mr Obama put its ratification high on his wish list for Congress' lame-duck session.

Among their arguments against it: The treaty would limit missile defence as well as hamper the US nuclear and conventional weapons programs while giving Russia too much leeway. Several have called for the White House to wait until the new Congress convenes in January, when the Republican boosts its numbers in the Senate. That will make it tougher for Mr Obama to get the 67 Senate votes necessary for ratification.

"Why the hurry, Mr. President?" Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, asked last week in a Boston Globe column. "A treaty so critical to our national security deserves a careful, deliberative look by the men and women America has just elected."

South Dakota Senator John Thune called START "a deeply flawed treaty that would have far-reaching consequences for America's national security." He, too, called Mr Obama's insistence that it pass this year irresponsible.

And Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty objects to the treaty in part because "it's premised on the dangerous and naive belief that cuts in our nuclear weapons will somehow discourage proliferation by other regimes, when in fact the exact opposite result is more likely."

Although no Republican has formally entered the race and the election is still two years away, potential candidates are seeking to demonstrate their foreign policy chops to prove they can preserve the Republicans' perceived advantage on national security issues.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National