Lugar: Romney’s nuclear treaty critique “unaware”

Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, who has long focused on nuclear proliferation issues, issued a statement that severely criticized 2012 GOP hopeful Mitt Romney’s recent op-ed opposing the new START treaty. Lugar has been a supporter of the new START treaty, and worked with then-Senator Obama on legislation to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Romney’s editorial has been widely criticized online for revealing his ignorance of basic defense issues. Slate’s Fred Kaplan posted a line-by-line critique of Romney’s piece, leading off with this note:

In 35 years of following debates over nuclear arms control, I have never seen anything quite as shabby, misleading and-let’s not mince words-thoroughly ignorant as Mitt Romney’s attack on the New START treaty in the July 6 Washington Post.

While Lugar’s statement was slightly less blunt, I don’t think Indiana’s senior Senator would disagree. But unlike Lugar, Romney is running for President in 2012, which means he has to make up reasons to oppose anything and everything President Obama does.

And did Romney really think that you could somehow mount ICBMs on bombers? I just find that mind-boggling, and so did Kaplan: “This is where I began to wonder if Romney had fallen prey to someone, perhaps a spy from Sarah Palin’s camp, who wanted to make him look like an idiot.” Seriously, Mitt – take a break from tying your dog to the roof of your car and pick up a Tom Clancy book sometime.

Here’s part of Lugar’s statement:

Governor Mitt Romney’s hyperbolic attack on the New START Treaty in the July 6 edition of The Washington Post repeats discredited objections and appears unaware of arms control history and context. In advancing these arguments, he rejects the Treaty’s unequivocal endorsement by the Defense Department led by Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He also distances himself from prominent Republican national security leaders, including Jim Schlesinger, Henry Kissinger, James Baker, and Brent Scowcroft, who have backed the Treaty after thoughtful analysis.


Governor Romney offers additional treaty misreadings and myths that have been refuted explicitly in Congressional hearings. The Bilateral Consultative Commission has no power to “amend the treaty with specific reference to missile defense,” as he contends. In fact, the Commission cannot change anything in treaty text or make changes that “affect substantive rights or obligations under this Treaty.” He asserts that missiles on rail cars constitute a loophole in the Treaty. But the last Russian rail-based missiles were deactivated in 2008. If Russia decided to build new ones, they would count under the overall limits on ICBM’s and their launchers. He also bemoans that New START does not “apply the MIRV limits that were part of the prior START treaty.” But there were no MIRV limits in START I, and START II never entered into force. He objects to New START’s counting of bombers as just a single weapon, even though they can carry multiple warheads. But this provision favors the U.S, given our bomber advantage, and reflects the position of Ronald Reagan, who originally proposed not counting bombers at all in START I.