START Treaty trapped in claws of US 'hawks'
Midterm elections took place in the USA on November 2. The results of the vote may lead to significant changes in the nation's politics, including the USA's relations with Russia.
Until recently, President Barack Obama could count on practically the universal approval of his initiatives in the law-making body. His followers from the Democratic Party controlled 255 seats in the House of Representatives vs. 178 taken by Republicans and 59 seats in the Senate vs. Republicans' 41. However, nearly all polls showed that Obama's easy life was going to end.
The polls showed that the majority of Americans were concerned about the current state of affairs in the country. About 45 percent of the polled said that they approved Obama's policies, whereas more than a half disagreed. It was supposed that the Republicans would gain the majority in the House of Representatives as a result of the vote, and Democrats would manage to keep the control over the Senate, although the number of Republicans in the Senate was supposed to grow.
According to the results of the vote, the Republican Party will control 235 seats in the House of Representatives. The Dems will have 181. As for the Senate, the Reps won six seats, but it was not enough to obtain majority. Thus, the Democrats and Obama in particular have lost the control over the House of Representatives, but kept 53 of 100 seats in the Senate.
The Americans were guided by internal, rather than external political affairs during the vote. Obama's inability of revive the American economy and solve many social problems is much more important for millions of American citizens than the war in Afghanistan, for example.
The results of the vote may considerably change the foreign political course of the United States, especially for Russia. Russia has many questions to the USA. To name just a few: when is the START Treaty going to be ratified (Medvedev and Obama signed the document in April)? Will Russia become a member of the WTO? Will the USA cancel the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment? Is there a chance for Russia and the USA to sign the ABM Treaty?
The agreement of US lawmakers is not required for Russia's incorporation in the World Trade Organization. If Russia becomes a WTO member, the Jackson-Vanik amendment will become a serious problem for the Unites States because it contradicts to the WTO rules. Many other issues do not require the interference of the Congress either - for example, the participation of American companies in the creation of innovative scientific center in Russia's Skolkovo.
The START Treaty is a different story. The treaty requires the approval from the majority of the members of the House of Representatives and two-thirds of senators. Obama does not have the latter, and the growing number of Republican lawmakers may result in the fact that the US-Russian treaty may not be ratified at all.
The Republicans believe that restricting the amount of nuclear warheads to 1,500 will cause damage to the security of the United States and put a stop to the modernization of arms. In addition, the "hawks" are concerned about the interconnection between the START Treaty and ABM, which was Russia's accomplishment. It was a cornerstone of George W. Bush's politics.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, an influential Republican, tried to overpersuade his party fellows. "There are those in America that are trying to flex their muscles and pretend they're ballsy by saying, "we've got to keep those nuclear weapons." That's very rugged, when you say that. It's not rugged at all; it's an idiot that says that. It's stupid to say that," he said on October 21, 2010.
However, only one Republican in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Richard Lugar, was ready to listen to the Terminator. All others, especially John McCain, are strongly against the ratification of the document.
Pavel Zolotarev, deputy director of the Institute for the USA and Canada, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that Russia should not be concerned about the possible revival of US defense programs.
"Some fear that the US "hawks" may increase the purchasing of F-22 fifth generation jets. Even if it happens, Russia is not supposed to be concerned about it. One should approach it from the point of view of internal lobbying of business interests in the United States. In addition, Robert Gates announced the criteria for the training of the US army. They include the struggle against illegal armed groups in accordance with the lessons of the Iraqi and Afghan wars.
"As for the START Treaty, it will be ratified sooner or later. The Republicans criticized Obama for that, of course, but now they have acknowledged that it meets the USA's interests.
"The rise of the Republicans should be analyzed from the point of view of home politics, because Washington's prime goal at the moment is to overcome the crisis," the expert said.