A Washington showdown looms on the critical New Start treaty this year. Confronted with GOP calls for delay, more than three-dozen former senior military and national security leaders are weighing in with their strong support for approving the treaty this year. The message is clear: "National Security Can't Wait -- Ratify new START Now."
Some Senators, led by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), have sought to delay the treaty to score political points -- pushing aside the urgent advice of our military and national security leaders.
Why the urgency? As the 38-members of The Consensus for American Security explained in their full-page ad, which is running in Politico, The Hill, The Arizona Republic and several major regional papers:
For almost a year, American inspectors have been unable to monitor the Russian nuclear arsenal. The New START treaty will re-establish those inspections, provide a sound strategic framework and improve our national security. That is why the entire U.S. military chain-of-command, seven former commanders of the U.S. Strategic Command, the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and senior experts in both parties from each of the last seven presidential administrations support the New START treaty currently pending before the Senate.
This recent ad is part of an explosion of support for the treaty, which has pitted mainstream, security-minded conservatives against a narrow few seeking petty political gains. As Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), a leading supporter of New START, said, "There are still thousands of missiles out there. You better get that through your heads."
That's why prominent conservatives like Robert Kagan and Max Boot - both advisors to John McCain's presidential campaign - published pieces explaining why ratifying New START this year is in the GOP's best interests. Pat Buchanan also supports it. "If the Joint Chiefs say this treaty is good for America," he writes, "what do the reluctant Republican senators believe is wrong with it?"
This adds to strong support from U.S. military leaders, U.S. intelligence leaders and NATO allies - all have endorsed New START. Countless editorials in newspapers from across the country have called for the Senate to quickly ratify the treaty. The American public is on board, too. According to a recent CNN public opinion poll, nearly 60 percent of Republicans think the Senate should ratify the treaty.
The New START treaty should be a no-brainer: it's a renewal of a treaty originally negotiated by Reagan and it will make America safer.
Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute said it best: "The stakes for America's national interest...are immense here. Pleases, guys, suck it up and find a way to make this work."
Follow Joe Cirincione on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Cirincione