Center for American Progress

America’s Newspapers: Stop the Delays and Ratify New START

America’s Newspapers: Stop the Delays and Ratify New START

Newspapers coast to coast have criticized conservatives’ reluctance to ratify New START.

An editorial published in the <i>San Francisco Chronicle</i> on November 18, 2010, states that "Republicans in the Senate are on the verge of a historic and narrow-minded mistake in blocking passage of a treaty to limit nuclear weapons with Russia." (AP/Eric Risberg)
An editorial published in the San Francisco Chronicle on November 18, 2010, states that "Republicans in the Senate are on the verge of a historic and narrow-minded mistake in blocking passage of a treaty to limit nuclear weapons with Russia." (AP/Eric Risberg)

Forty editorial boards across the country have forcefully rebuked the efforts of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Senate Republicans to delay the ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START. Papers in states such as Utah, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Maine, Texas, and Iowa have all slammed the legislative holdup. The Louisville Courier called Kyl’s move an “outrage.” Kyl was described as “narrow-minded,” politically “craven,” and as putting forth “lame excuses.” The New York Times even said Iran should send Kyl a “thank you note.”

The 40 papers include: USA Today, The Florida Times-Union, Sun Journal, Chicago Tribune, The Sacramento Bee, The News and Observer, Houston Chronicle, Rocky Mount Telegram, The Asheville Citizen-Times, The Sheboygan Press, Tulsa World, The Vindicator, Financial Times, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Register-Guard, The Bemidji Pioneer, The Palm Beach Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel, The Toledo Blade, The Seattle Times, The Knoxville News Sentinel, Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Nashua Telegraph, The Times of Trenton, The Courier-Journal, The Washington Post, The Oregonian, The Denver Post, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Charleston Gazette, San Francisco Chronicle, The San Jose Mercury News, The Times Record, The Des Moines Register, Deseret News, and The Christian Science Monitor.

Here is a sampling of what these newspaper editorial boards are saying:

Louisville Courier-Journal: “The determination of the national Republican Party to oppose anything that could be construed as a victory for President Obama has moved from being irresponsible to downright dangerous. Republican preoccupation with limiting Mr. Obama to one term—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s top priority—is reckless enough at a time of persistent high unemployment and economic hardship. Now comes an effort, led by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., to block the lame-duck Senate session from ratifying the crucial New Start nuclear arms treaty with Russia. … this is an outrage.”

The New York Times: “The world’s nuclear wannabes, starting with Iran, should send a thank you note to Senator Jon Kyl. … the treaty is so central to this country’s national security, and the objections from Mr. Kyl—and apparently the whole Republican leadership—are so absurd that the only explanation is their limitless desire to deny President Obama any legislative success.”

Los Angeles Times: “When Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the GOP’s point man on the issue, decided this week that the treaty wasn’t important enough to be taken up by the lame-duck Congress, it was pretty clear that he was acting not in the interest of the nation but of his party.”

Knoxville News Sentinel: “The minority whip’s foot-dragging could make it tougher for the treaty to obtain the two-third’s majority needed for ratification because of Democratic losses in this month’s election. … ratification is in the best interests of the country. … unfortunately, Tennessee’s senators, Republicans Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, appear willing to go along with Kyl.”

Toledo Blade: “Led by Sen. John Kyl of Arizona, Senate Republicans, in pursuit of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s agenda to keep Barack Obama a one-term president, have opposed bringing the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to a vote before the Senate session expires. If they hold to that, they will throw on the fire a carefully designed accord that was the product of years of negotiation. … by risking these potential gains in order to frustrate Mr. Obama, Republicans are acting in bad faith with not just Democrats, but the American people.”

Nashua Telegraph (NH): “After stringing along the president and congressional Democrats for several months, demanding and getting more money for modernizing the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities, Kyl copped out Tuesday issuing a sanctimoniously vague press release. … with so many overpowering arguments supporting the agreement, it doesn’t take a cynic to conclude Kyl’s opposition is motivated by more than concerns over the treaty itself. Giddy over their mid-term election triumphs that will bolster their ranks by six seats, Senate Republicans are drooling over the opportunity to embarrass and undermine President Obama, regardless of what is best for the country … it will be a sad day for America if Republican political greed trumps common sense and national security.”

St. Louis Post Dispatch: “Bulletin: The Cold War is over. … Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., says he fears there isn’t time to give START II the consideration it deserves. This is the same Jon Kyl who, in July, said he thought the treaty was “relatively benign.” … failure to ratify START II would leave the United States in a far weaker diplomatic position. Friends and enemies alike would see a nation less concerned about peace than politics. They would not be wrong.”

Times Record of Mid-coast Maine: “Our country’s national security shouldn’t be subject to political gamesmanship. But that’s exactly what’s happening in the U.S. Senate, where the Republican leadership has been using lame excuses to hold up the ratification vote. … the silence of our two U.S. senators on this treaty is perplexing, given that both Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins have supported earlier arms control agreements negotiated by Republican presidents. We encourage them to speak up for national security and urge their Republican leaders to stop the politicking and ratify this treaty.”

San Francisco Chronicle: “Republicans in the Senate are on the verge of a historic and narrow-minded mistake in blocking passage of a treaty to limit nuclear weapons with Russia.”

Houston Chronicle: “If you doubted that Republicans could be so craven as to put their own political interests above national security, the proof was delivered Tuesday: Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl announced he will block New START, which calls for the resumption of nuclear controls that until now have had bipartisan support.”

Utah’s Deseret News: “This is one vote that shouldn’t hinge on false political perceptions. The one sure tip-off that ratification is important is that leaders of the U.S. military support it and believe it enhances national security. Ratification should be high on the to-do list of the outgoing Senate.”

Des Moines Register: “Waiting until the new Congress convenes doesn’t make sense. … a delay serves no purpose other than for Republicans to show they can make the president wait. But not moving forward could weaken U.S. relations with the Russian Federation, where the more liberal Medvedev faces an internal power struggle of his own with hard-line Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. That could damage cooperation on containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

More from CAP on New START:

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