President Obama recently tried to hijack Ronald Reagan and use him in an effort to get the START Treaty passed by the Senate during the lame duck Congress. Here’s what Obama said in Lisbon Nov. 20.
Ronald Reagan said, trust but verify — we can’t verify right now.
We’ve got the national security advisors and the secretaries of defense and generals from the Reagan administration, the Bush administration — Bush one and Bush two — as well as from the Clinton administration and my administration saying this is important to our national security.
Well, not so fast. One of the two or three advisers closest to Reagan, Ed Meese, and Richard Perle, the strategic expert who was with him in Rekyjavik when he walked away from a treaty with Russia that would have stopped missile defense, argue in a Wall Street Journal piece that Reagan would not have supported Obama’s START effort.
There are many reasons why this treaty falls short of those negotiated by President Reagan. For one thing, its verification regime is inadequate. For another, it gives the Kremlin an unwarranted influence over the structure of our nuclear deterrent. Most important, it will almost certainly reduce our freedom to deploy vital defenses against ballistic missiles.
Moreover, the administration is asking a lame-duck Senate, dominated by a party that was rebuked at the polls by the electorate, to vote for this major arms-control treaty, in contravention of the settled traditions of our country—a tactic Reagan surely would have deplored.
Other advisers, including two of his former secretaries of state, say Reagan’s zeal to reduce nuclear weapons would have convinced him to back New START, and that the treaty doesn’t undermine missile defense.
So what Reagan’s stance would be on this is unclear, although it’s hard for me to imagine the man who shunned the Russians during his first term and walked away from the Rekjavik deal would have sided with a small group of GOP moderates in the Senate on this one.
Obama, in his effort to invoke Reagan, may have presupposed the truism that Dead Men Don’t Tell tales. But their surviving advisers do.