< Back to front page Text size +

Arms-control experts launch salvo against Romney

Posted by Christopher Shea  July 7, 2010 02:57 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Mitt Romney, the former governor and onetime (and future?) presidential candidate, recently delved into arms-control policy with an aggressive opinion piece lambasting the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the latest agreement governing Russo-American nuclear-weapons policies. According to Romney, writing in the Washington Post, the treaty could be the Obama administration's "worst foreign policy mistake yet."

The reviews from arms-control experts are in, and they're not very flattering to Romney. "Terrible, terrible, terrible," writes Jeffrey Lewis, of Armscontrolwonk.com.

Romney paints a picture of an American administration that allowed itself to be duped at every step by an aggressive foe intent on establishing nuclear dominance. "For example," Romney writes, "rail-based ICBMs and launchers are not mentioned" in New START. This "loophole," he argues--"presumably carefully crafted by Moscow"--would allow the Russians to amass dozens or hundreds of such launchers while the United States stood idly by.

This talking point has been around for a while, according to an analysis by the blog Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces, to which Lewis directs his readers. Indeed, one section of the treaty does refer to "self-propelled launchers," which could be read as excluding launchers dragged by a locomotive engine. But elsewhere launchers are defined as devices "intended or used to contain, prepare for launch, and launch an ICBM." In short, rail-based launchers would be counted.

But there's a more basic reason the treaty does not mention rail-based missile launchers: the Russians abandoned them in 2002, and the treaty covers only existing missile systems. Writes Pavel Podvig, of Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces: "I should note that when Romney [writes] about 'reports of growing interest in rail-mobile ICBMs' he is simply making things up--there is no interest in reviving the rail-mobile ICBM program in Russia and there are no reports that would suggest that there is."

This morning, Senator John Kerry published a response to Romney, also in the Post, which makes some of the same points that Lewis and Podvig do, while also accusing him of pandering to the right wing of the Republican Party.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


Browse this blog

by category