November 8, 2010

Republicans - not Russian into anything in lame-duck session

If Republicans are looking to close off foreign policy as a post-midterm political outlet for President Obama, their renewed toughness on START and other U.S.-Russia issues may be about more than long-running suspicions against the Kremlin. 

The best way to humble the Administration could be to withhold cooperation on the very issues it has identified as its own priorities. In this case, that means pouring cold water on this President's "reset" strategy, even as an enhanced bilateral relationship has begun to bear fruit for such bipartisan U.S. goals as Mideast peace talks, Iran sanctions, counter-terrorism, and civilian nuclear cooperation.

President Bush also experienced pushback on Russia ties, from some Republicans as well as Democrats, notably on his efforts to expand trade. But it's doubtful either political party would have held up the new START teaty, a reasonably straightforward replacement for the recently expired -- and demonstrably effective -- START II. 

The "123" agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation will proceed despite the partisan positioning within Congress, entering into effect this month unless somehow a deadlocked Senate adopts a Resolution of Disapproval. That's the advantage of an "agreement" over a "treaty" (which would require affirmative Senate ratification). 

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