Why START's failure is a very big deal

Few governments will want to deal with Obama on anything that requires congressional approval

Daniel Larison

Once the Senate Republicans carry out their threat to block and kill the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) this year, the United States' ability to conduct foreign policy effectively throughout the world will be significantly weakened.

The treaty's failure has the obvious consequences of harming relations with Russia and potentially undermining cooperation on Iran, Afghanistan, and securing nuclear materials, and it will make it harder for all foreign governments to take political risks in negotiating future agreements with the United States. In addition to raising doubts about President Barack Obama's ability to win support for accords he has signed, the treaty's fate will show the world that every administration initiative, no matter what it is, will be subjected to constant opposition for narrow political ends. Contrary to most expectations, the recent midterm election results have not just had some impact on U.S. foreign policy, but also are immediately having an outsized, disruptive effect that seems likely to increase during the next two years.

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