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Sarah Palin vs. Admiral Mullen over New START

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Sarah "Barracuda" has done it again. In her 24/7, at-any-cost quest to stay in the media spotlight--and thus, by her calculation, relevant--Sarah Palin has found time away from both her new TLC reality/wilderness show "Sarah Palin's Alaska" (think "Jon & Kate Plus 8" meets "Shark Week"), as well from watching her daughter on "Dancing With The Stars" (to which the terms "dancing" and "star" are loosely applied to daughter Bristol) in order to boldly put forth her thoughts on the future of....wait for it...U.S.-Russian nuclear disarmament and the new START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). Seriously, I am not kidding.

I know you have many immediate and important questions to ask, like why has Bristol Palin not been voted off DWTS yet? But focus please. Let's start with what in the world is the "new START treaty?" As four retired American military generals explained last month in the Washington Times:

"The New START treaty replaces a treaty negotiated under the Reagan administration and signed by President George H.W. Bush, which expired in December. It provides stability and predictability between the world's two leading nuclear powers as well as modest reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. Most important, it replaces the previous treaty's lapsed verification regime with a state-of-the-art system that builds on 20 years of verification experience and puts U.S. inspectors back on the ground to monitor Russia's nuclear weapons"

And why should you care? Because it is possible the U.S. Senate will vote on this important new treaty before the end of the year. The first START treaty was ratified by the Senate in 1992 by a vote of 93-6.

Cue Sarah Palin.

This past Saturday, the former not-quite-one-term Governor of Alaska and now likely Republican presidential candidate published an "Open Letter to Republican Freshmen Members of Congress" via FoxNews.com. Palin asserts in the opening of the letter that her thoughts were in demand from these newly elected Members of Congress: "[s]ome of you have asked for my thoughts on how best to proceed in the weeks and months ahead and how best to advance an agenda that can move our country forward. " It is unclear if by "some" Mrs. Palin means "one" or "many," but let's not get bogged down with specifics. She doesn't.

You have to read about 14 paragraphs into her letter--past the long-term "so much damage has been done in the last two years" memory lapses; past the still-trying-to-scare-the-old-people with "Obamacare" language; and just beyond the patently false "tax cuts didn't get us into the mess," before the former Republican Vice-Presidential nominee gets to her thoughts on foreign policy and national security.

But then she doesn't hold back--her imagination, that is. Mrs. Palin spends some quality time attacking President Obama on Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and China. She drops the perfunctory Ronald Reagan quote, sets backs Middle-East peace negotiations by about 30 years, and then there it is, the gem:

"And for those of you joining the United States Senate, don't listen to desperate politically-motivated arguments about the need for hasty consideration of the "New START" treaty. Insist on your right to patient and careful deliberation of New START to address very real concerns about verification, missile defense, and modernization of our nuclear infrastructure. No New START in the lame duck!"

It's the "desperate politically-motivated arguments" part of her statement that I find the most interesting, because one of the loudest voices in the past few weeks calling for the quick ratification of the new START treaty is Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I typically do not think of Admiral Mullen--the nation's highest ranking military officer--as "desperate" or "politically motivated."

In fact, Admiral Mullen gave a very strong speech just this past Friday at Stanford University's Hoover Institute where he unequivocally stated his support for the new START treaty because its the right thing for the safety of our country. The Chairman, a 42-year veteran of the US military, said:

"I believe, and the rest of the military leadership in this country believes, that this treaty is essential to our future security. I believe it enhances and ensures that security. And I hope the Senate will ratify it quickly."

So there you have it. Sarah Palin--the less than one term Governor of Alaska and reality TV star--who is opposed to a vote on the new START treaty; versus, Admiral Mike Mullen--a four-star Admiral, the nation's highest ranking military officer and a 42-year veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces--who has stated that ratification of this treaty is critical to the long term security of the United States.

Which one are you listening to when it comes to keeping America safe? Hey Senate, here is a hint--my money is not on Sarah Palin. She can go back to basic cable where she belongs.

P.S. If you're still not convinced, here is just a partial list of national security experts who have endorsed the ratification of the new START treaty. I am considering changing the title of this piece to "Sarah Palin versus the Entire Rational Universe." Enjoy:

Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense
Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
Colin Powell, Secretary of State 2001-2005
Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State, 1997-2001
Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State 1973-1977
Brent Scrowcroft, National Security Advisor to President George H.W. Bush
William Cohen, Secretary of Defense, 1997-2001
James Schelsinger, Secretary of Defense 1973-1975
William Perry, Secretary of Defense 1994-1997
Steven Hadley, National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush
Howard Baker, U.S. Senator (R-TN), 1967-85
Samuel Berger, National Security Advisor, 1997-2001
Dr. Barry Blechman, Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1977-80; Commissioner, Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, 1998-99
Linton Brooks, Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration, 2002-07
Harold Brown, Secretary of Defense, 1977-81
Mark Brzezinski, Director of Southeast European Affairs, National Security Council, 1999-2001
Richard Burt, Chief START Negotiator, 1989-91
Frank Carlucci, Secretary of Defense, 1987-89
Warren Christopher, Secretary of State, 1993-97
John C. Danforth, U.S. Senator (R-MO), 1977-95
Kenneth M. Duberstein, White House Chief of Staff,1988-89
Lieutenant General Robert Gard, U.S. Army (Ret), President of the National Defense University, 1977-81
Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, U.S. Navy (Ret), Inspector General of the Department of the Navy, 1997-2000
Chuck Hagel, U.S. Senator (R-NE), 1997-2009
Lee Hamilton, U.S. Congressman (D-IN), 1965-99
Gary Hart, U.S. Senator (D-CO), 1975-87
Rita E. Hauser, Chair, International Peace Institute
Carla Hills, U.S. Trade Representative, 1989-93
Lieutenant General Dirk Jameson, U.S. Air Force (Ret), Commander of U.S. ICBM forces 1992-94; Deputy Commander-In-Chief of U.S. Strategic Command, 1994-96
Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, U.S. Senator (R-KS), 1978-97
Thomas Kean, Governor (R-NJ), 1982-90; 9/11 Commission Chair
Lawrence Korb, Assistant Secretary of Defense, 1981-85
Richard Leone, President, The Century Foundation
Donald McHenry, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, 1979-81
Sam Nunn, U.S. Senator (D-GA), 1972-96
Thomas Pickering, Under Secretary of State, 1997-2000
Steven Pifer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, 2001-04
Warren Rudman, U.S. Senator (R-NH), 1980-92
Wendy Sherman, Commissioner, Commission for the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism; Special Advisor and Policy Coordinator on U.S. policy toward North Korea, 1997-2001
Alan Simpson, U.S. Senator (R-WY), 1979-97
George Shultz, Secretary of State, 1982-89
Theodore Sorensen, White House Special Counsel, 1961-63
John Whitehead, Deputy Secretary of State, 1985-88
Timothy E. Wirth, U.S. Senator (D-CO), 1987-93
Frank Wisner, Under Secretary of State, 1992-93

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