What does START mean to you? For many of the new generations it means the little button you click in Microsoft Windows that gives you access to a bunch of programs not sitting on the desktop...
For older generations and the slim minority of newer generations that care about history, START is the STrategic Arms Reduction Talks that began on June 29, 1982 and culminated in an agreement with the USSR about Nuclear missile and material reduction in 1991. START II began in June 1992 and ended with President H.W. Bush and President Boris Yelstin's agreement in January 1993. START III was dead on arrival in 1997 and dealt a death blow by the George W Bush Administration's withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
Before I mention why I'm bringing up START let's talk about a strange trend that you can notice in that last paragraph.. did anything about the culmination of the START talks strike you as odd or telling? START I: Pres. Reagan brings it up, pushes it until it passes. START II: Pres. George HW Bush brings it up with the Russians, Pres. Clinton pushes it until it passes. START III: Offered by Russian diplomats, agreed to in principle by sane State Dept. diplomats, killed by Pres. GW Bush. Sad.. It is like we this Bush Administration has taken pride in wasting and throwing away all the good will and soft diplomatic power the US possessed and worked hard to gain. Hard work by Presidents and proud American men and women who toiled to step America up just one more step so that the next global generation would see America on a pedestal not in the dirt. Thanks, Dubya - you have spoiled and deserted their ideals then threw them out all in the name of a new American "power" - force and terror.
Well... Where was I before my diatribe? START! That's right, START is going to expire! START expires in December 2009. The United States and Russia are trying to come together to come to an agreement. There are a few, uh how to put this.... problems.
First, US diplomats have zero credibility or power because they represent a lame-duck President with less than 90 days to serve.
Second, this Bush Administration is more interested developing ABMS (Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems) and antagonizing the Russian Bear than it is willing to actually doing something truly courageous - working towards a more peaceful world.
Third, the Russians are looking to regain the Soviet glory of military power with no international restrictions (obviously they have rose-colored glasses on their hindsight along with a severe case of selective amnesia).
Fourth, there is a general disagreement as to exactly what a new START would cover - US diplomats want to limit the number of missiles period, the Russians would like to see a limit on warheads (there can be many of these per missile) and they want a limit on ABMS.
I hope that in the 11 months following the Presidential Inauguration that (then) President Obama will have the ability to multitask effectively and deal with the START talks seriously and with great care. As an aside - I do not believe that total disarmament should neither be a possibility nor a goal. The reduction of nuclear weapons will lend a hand to a more effective security between nations and will reduce the ability of rogue states or terrorists of getting their hands on Nuclear materials.
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