Streetwise Professor

December 1, 2010

Stopping START

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:49 pm

With all the focus on Wikileaks, there are other, old fashioned, non-wiki leaks that are quite fascinating.  The first was the story that Russia has redeployed some tactical nuclear weapons to within miles of Russia’s border with NATO countries.  The second is that the US had engaged in secret negotiations with the Russians over missile defense–negotiations that SecState Clinton and SecDef Gates denied in sworn testimony before Congress had been undertaken.

Leaks don’t happen by accident.  They have a purpose.  And here the purpose is to undermine support for the START treaty.

And, perhaps unintentionally, Putin and Medvedev are lending a hand.  Both gave speeches threatening that Russia would develop new offensive weapons unless Russia was included in a joint missile defense program with the US.

Putin made a similar threat last year, by the way.

Russia can’t afford another arms race.  Indeed, one of the main virtues of START to Russia is that it caps US weaponry, and thereby relieves Russia of pressure to increase its strategic weapons expenditures to keep up.  With START it can keep a rough parity without breaking the bank.

Which means that the tandem’s threat is completely incredible; especially given the huge expenditures committed to the restructuring of Russia’s conventional military, and a sputtering economy, Russia cannot afford an arms race: given its travails with Bulava, moreover, there is room to doubt that it could run the race if it tried.  But these threats, combined with the revelation of information that calls into question Russian intentions and other information that calls into question the administration’s honesty, damage the prospects for the passage of START, particularly during the lame duck session.  A vote for start could look like submission to bullying, and acquiescence to administration dishonesty.

Obama has put tremendous emphasis on START, in an effort to get something, anything, that can be portrayed as an accomplishment in the aftermath of an electoral debacle.  The Russians aren’t doing him any favors in their words and deeds, and the leaks that just occurred, and the ones that are likely to come (leaky faucets don’t usually drip just twice) are inflicting even more damage.  Which means that the prospects for START are fading.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. I think it’s credible. Even disregarding America’s much worse fiscal prospects, nuclear armaments are cheap in comparison with advanced conventional weapons.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 1, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

  2. Russians turn their back on the ruble:

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 1, 2010 @ 10:36 pm

  3. Russian debt soaring out of control:

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 1, 2010 @ 10:36 pm

  4. Russia is a mafia state:

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 1, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

  5. Russian stock market utterly enslaved by oil price set by foreigners:

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 1, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

  6. Russian men are barbarians, Russian women live in horror:

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 1, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

  7. Russians are spontaneously combusting!

    Comment by Andrew #2 — December 1, 2010 @ 11:54 pm

  8. Russian debt set to rise to 16% of GDP by 2012: Bond prospectus

    I agree with LR. If only the US – not to mention virtually the entire developed world – were to accomplish just half of Russia’s achievements in this sphere!

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 2, 2010 @ 12:11 am

  9. He made clear he was not amused by a US diplomat’s description of him as “Batman” and President Dmitry Medvedev as “Robin”. “To be honest with you, we did not suspect that this [criticism] could be made with such arrogance, with such rudeness, and you know, so unethically,” Putin remarked.

    How lucky there is someone to teach politeness and ethics to those rude American diplomats.

    Comment by Ivan — December 2, 2010 @ 2:56 am

  10. professor, i am an american russia watcher like you.

    had you ever heard of igor shugalov before today? he was the lead of the russian delegation for the world cup and is putin’s primary deputy pm — if putin is out of the country, he is de facto pm. very impressive guy, charesmatic… president of russia by 2017 imho.

    Comment by colleen w. — December 2, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

  11. Now, now let’s not get carried away and forget the great hair/no-hair cycle.

    Comment by So? — December 2, 2010 @ 11:03 pm

  12. Russia can’t afford another arms race.

    I have news for you: neither can USA. China is NOT going to lend us any more money on top of the $trillions that we already own. USA is headed for an economic collapse. It is high time fort American politicians to put the interests of average taxpayers over those of the military-industrial lobby, to cut the enormous defense budget, and to start cooperating with other countries instead of escalating confrontations and threats.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — December 3, 2010 @ 12:46 am

  13. That’s “owe” not “own”.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — December 3, 2010 @ 12:49 am

  14. Hi La Russophobe,

    I am happy to see that now that your blog is almost dead, you are devoting your full time to posting links here, at the SWP site. It is nice to see that the less stupid and less bigoted blogs of people like SWP win out in the long run over the idiots like yourself.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — December 3, 2010 @ 12:53 am

  15. Just because you got banned (again) for lying Ostap the Bender/Michael Tal/Phobodunce/Voice of Retardation……

    Comment by Andrew — December 3, 2010 @ 1:08 am

  16. SWP: You’re right about one thing: Russia cannot afford another arms race. But you imply in this article that the US can, and would, if not for a new treaty. That’s just plain silly. The US has been hit far worse than Russia during this ongoing economic crisis. Of course, it is in both countries benefit to not engage in another arms race, and for the same reasons.

    Comment by what? — December 3, 2010 @ 10:19 am

  17. Colleen–

    Yes, I’d heard of Shuvalov, but didn’t know much about him. Yes, he may be an up-and-comer, but up-and-comers face a lot of risk in systems like that in Russia. Putin will only be 65 in 2017, and autocrats tend to become less tolerant of the younger and more dynamic. So to validate your prediction, he will have to be a very cagey player.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 3, 2010 @ 10:59 am

  18. […] The distinct possibility that the Republican-dominated (apparently, all it takes is one Republican for that situation to prevail) U.S. Senate may refuse to ratify the new START treaty negotiated by President Obama’s administration provoked a flurry of posts both for and against. For that reason I figured I’d give it a miss, because it had been done to death. Or so I thought, until I saw this. […]

    Pingback by Don’t Get Me STARTed | The Kremlin Stooge — December 3, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

  19. > Of course, it is in both countries benefit to not engage in another arms race, and for the same reasons.

    Not really. The sooner the Evil Empire completes its collapse the better for the US and all of the Free World. Another Reagan is badly needed.

    Comment by Ivan — December 3, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

  20. The “tactical nukes” story has already been debunked at russianforces dot org. (LaR’s spam must have triggered URL filters).
    There’d be nothing to talk about at all had NATO not moved right up to the Russian border.

    Comment by So? — December 3, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

  21. @So? If you read the post, I say nothing about the validity of the leaks, nor is it relevant to what I wrote. Indeed, I don’t say a word about that. All that interested me was that the leaks were made, and all I wrote about in the post re the leaks is why they were made–to undermine START. In any event, to me the more important of the leaks is the one regarding secret negotiations re missile defense. If that one is true, it undermines the credibility of the administration, and Gates and Clinton. The latter is in a particularly delicate spot given some of the Wikileaks (e.g,, her curiosity over Kerchner’s mental and emotional state).

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 3, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

  22. “Another Reagan is badly needed.”

    Hm. Between him and his successor, the US federal debt went from 32% of GNP to 63% of GNP.

    Another Reagan and the US would be done for.

    Comment by rkka — December 3, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

  23. Another Reagan and the Evil Empire will be done for. And so will be statism/socialism in the US. A perfect combination.

    Comment by Ivan — December 4, 2010 @ 3:27 am

  24. And the Chinese will pay for it all. Pull another one.

    Comment by So? — December 4, 2010 @ 4:28 am

  25. Another Reagan and the Evil Empire will be done for. And so will be statism/socialism in the US.

    You’re more perfectly right than you could ever imagine. 😉

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 4, 2010 @ 4:49 am

  26. Soviet Oblivion,

    no need to project your poor imagination on others. Obviously even you understand I am right: you voted for Reagan’s agenda with your feet.

    Comment by Ivan — December 4, 2010 @ 7:37 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress