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Republicans Threaten Nuclear Treaty Over Don't Ask/Don't Tell Repeal

By       Message Tom Shire       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   7 comments

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When the U.S. Senate voted Saturday to repeal the military's Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy (DADT - originally passed by Congress in 1993), they did so in the face of a warning from Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) who said Friday that moving forward on the repeal "poisons the well" when it comes to ratifying the "New" Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia.

What, you might ask, does 'New START' have to do with repealing Don't Ask/Don't Tell?  Well, nothing really, except that Republicans in Washington D.C. know that President Obama in particular and Democrats in general want to see both issues wrapped up before the end of this lame duck congress.  And even though eight Republicans joined a Democratic majority in repealing DADT, other Republicans have done everything in their power to maintain the discriminatory law which discharges members of the military if it is discovered they are attracted to, or in a relationship with, another person of the same sex.

Over what should be a private matter between consenting adults, some Republicans are willing to scuttle a treaty that would significantly reduce both Russian and American nuclear arsenals, and create an enhanced framework of weapons inspections.  The first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) was initiated by President Ronald Reagan and finalized during George H. W. Bush's Presidency.  It expired on December 5, 2009, and since then, American inspectors have not had access to Russian weapons and facilities.

President Obama's New START has been available in its final form since April, and the subject of over 20 Senate hearings.  It has been endorsed by every living Republican and Democratic Secretary of State, as well as former President George H. W. Bush.

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But none of that matters to a group of conservative Republicans who so despise either gay people or President Obama (or both) that they are willing to take hostage an international treaty in order to get their way on a domestic matter.

Senate Republicans have some experience with hostage taking since all 42 of them signed a letter a few weeks ago vowing to block all congressional legislation unless every single Bush tax cut was extended, including the tax cuts on income exceeding $250,000.

The President chose to strike a deal, saying at the time, "I think it's tempting not to negotiate with the hostage takers, unless the hostage gets harmed."  In exchange for giving the Republicans their desired tax cuts for the wealthy, President Obama got the middle-class tax cuts he wanted, and an extension of unemployment benefits.

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Now, since their first hostage taking was such a success, what do Republicans have to lose by trying again?  Public opinion for one thing.  Within an hour of The Washington Post 's report on Corker's "poison the well" comment, the senator called Post blogger Greg Sargent to clarify his fellow senators' "objections" to the treaty:

"I just want to make sure it's clear they're not going to oppose the treaty permanently," he said. "But [the proposed DADT repeal is] hardening them against doing it right now."

Please forgive me for oversimplifying earlier when I wrote that DADT and New START have "nothing" to do with each other.  The fact is, by preventing competent Americans from serving in the military, DADT weakens our national defense.  Likewise, by failing to ratify New START, the world is a more dangerous place than it otherwise would be.

Too many Washington D.C. Republicans are compromising our national security and core value of equal treatment for all, simply for the sake of promoting bigotry and tripping up the President.  Their petty, counter-productive grievances even drive them to betray the treaty legacies of Ronald Reagan and subsequent Republican presidents.

Never, in all my years, have I seen such faithlessness in American politics.

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Tom is a long-haul truck driver from southeastern Massachusetts who wishes he could have a cat, and enjoys keeping abreast of technological developments, especially as they relate to energy efficiency.

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