Casting Credibility to Winds, Republicans Attempt to Disarm Disarmament

At Huffington Post, William Hartung writes:

Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee. . . . led by Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) seem . . . to be afraid that the modest but important New START nuclear arms reduction agreement between the U.S. and Russia is somehow going to sap the strength of the United States, unless it is accompanied by massive new investments in nuclear weapons facilities along with bombers, submarines, and ballistic missiles.

Their version of the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, scheduled to be debated on the House floor this week, Hartung reports, includes amendments such as:

  • A provision delaying the reductions called for in New START until the Secretaries of Defense and Energy certify that a 10-year,185 billion plan to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal is on track;
  • A provision barring funds to “retire, dismantle or eliminate” any nuclear weapon until new factories to produce plutonium and uranium components of nuclear weapons are at full capacity, a process that could take until 2024 or longer;
  • A provision preventing the president from reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal below levels approved in New START, even if there is a chance to achieve security-enhancing reductions without a formal treaty.

Hartung calls these amendments “obnoxious, dangerous and questionable.” I would add laughable and damaging to their credibility. But Republicans’ main concern is moving that Overton Window right in order to make their most extreme policies visible within the parameters of national debate.