Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Treaty delay and warming: twin GOP threat to planet

Express Staff Writer

What Oklahoma's Sen. James Inhofe is to global warming, Arizona's Sen. Jon Kyl is to nuclear weaponry.

Inhofe considers global warming a laughable hoax, while Kyl dismisses President Obama's urgency in ratifying the New Start arms control treaty with Russia as so much piffle.

Put together, these attitudes provide the makings of a planet catastrophe—indifference to man-made air and water pollutants leaching away at the earth's environment toward certain calamity for humankind and wildlife, and a lackadaisical, ho-hum refusal to keep arms control and nuclear reduction on a steady pace for world security.

If Inhofe and Kyl were merely annoying gadflies, they could be ignored. Unhappily for sensible attempts to modify global pollution, conservatives and Republicans consider Inhofe the lamp of enlightenment. As for Kyl, he's dredged up rusty old arguments from the 1950s Cold War that appeal to many Republicans as a phony façade for his real motives—GOP-first, country-second partisan politics as a way of sabotaging President Obama's foreign policy accomplishments while trifling with nuclear weapons.

What's the rush, Kyl pleads disingenuously—more Senate hearings are needed.

More? On top of countless briefings, the Senate has held 21 hearings on the treaty.

Arrayed against Sen. Kyl's flippant objections is the decidedly more credible support for the treaty by five former Republican and Democratic secretaries of Defense, six former secretaries of State of both parties, seven former nuclear weapons commanders and the top current military chieftains.

Kyl, like other Republicans who long for a return to the Cold War, also seems to delight in riling the Russians. In so doing, however, Kyl jeopardizes special assistance that Russians give U.S. operations in Afghanistan. If Moscow was as intemperate and childish as Kyl, it would forthwith withdraw that help.

Blocking deliberate speed in ratifying a treaty to further reduce nuclear warheads conveys a who-cares attitude to wannabe nuclear states. At what point would Sen. Kyl and like-minded colleagues in the Senate consider it urgent to be concerned about reducing doomsday weaponry?

Republicans as a group needed not one iota of proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction before stampeding President George W. Bush into war in Iraq.

But with temperatures rising and Arctic glaciers melting like ice cubes in Death Valley, global warming is a hoax to the mindless or blind Sen. Inhofe. And with thousands of known nuclear warheads stacked in U.S. and Russian arsenals, and Iran and North Korea assembling their first A-bombs, Sen. Kyl wants more hearings to prove the urgency of reducing weapons caches that could incinerate the planet.

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