November 23, 2010
Hon. Senator Jon Kyl
730 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
We regret to make this letter public, but time is of the essence, and we were afraid that otherwise it wouldn’t be brought to your attention before the quickly approaching end of the “lame duck” Congress.
In a curious departure from regular Senate procedure (one Senator, one voice) your voice can count for more than one and in fact decide the outcome of an issue crucial to U.S. security and U.S. – Russia relations. Several Republican senators have indicated that they will be guided by you in voting on START ratification, thus putting all burden of responsibility for making a historical decision on you.
While this is within your procedural prerogatives as a Senator -- and a measure of your colleagues’ respect for your judgment -- we respectfully suggest you reconsider using your considerable influence in this matter.
If you recall, it was the late Paul Weyrich and us who helped organize your trip to Moscow about twenty years ago, as the Soviet Union collapsed. We also helped bring other prominent Republicans to Moscow, like Vice-President Dan Quayle, Senator Phil Graham, Congressman Henry Hyde, and many others. At that time we all had great expectations for Russia, liberated from communism, to evolve into one of America’s strongest and most reliable allies. So the purpose of those trips was to see the situation on the ground and generate some ideas for the success of that vision.
Well, twenty years on our goals are far from being realized, much to our regret. If you believe many of our fellow Republicans the main fault for this spectacular failure lies with the Clinton administration, as was clear by about the year 2000.
At that time, the Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert formed the Advisory Group on Russia chaired by Christopher Cox, Chairman of the House Policy Committee. The membership of that committee read like a Who’s Who of the Republican Party in Congress, including heads of the most important committees.
The report of that group, titled “Russia’s Road to Corruption,” was a devastating analysis of the work of Clinton and his top advisors on Russia policy – Al Gore, Strobe Talbott, and Laurence Summers, the men who had squandered away a historic opportunity to bring Russia on our side.
The 100+-page-long report is fascinating reading; it is readily available on the Internet at http://www.fas.org/news/russia/2000/russia/index.html though for some reason it mysteriously disappeared from the original site, http://policy.house.gov/russia
We wish we could indeed put all the blame on the Democrats, but have eight years of George Bush brought us closer to our original vision? Unfortunately, in those years US – Russia relations reached their lowest point since the end of communism. Now, after 9/11 there was a real chance to repair the damage done in the nineties. At that time Putin did everything Bush was asking for in his attempt to defeat the Taliban. Naturally, Moscow expected some kind of positive gesture from Washington in return. Instead, it got NATO Eastern expansion, the US unilateral withdrawal from the ABM treaty, “color revolutions” in countries along Russia’s borders clearly instigated from the outside, a democracy promotion crusade, a pipeline policy intended to sap Russia’s energy revenues, arming Georgia to the teeth, and worst of all, a push for former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO.
As we all know, Bush policies did not bring too many dividends to America. We have an astronomical national debt, close to ten percent unemployment, two endless and pretty hopeless wars, the rise of militant Islam, and many other problems including, quite unnecessarily, ever worsening U.S. – Russian relations.
We should admit that Obama’s administration “Reset” policy with Russia started to turn things around, and the ratification of START treaty would be a logical step in this direction. It will also help reduce the two countries’ nuclear stockpiles thus enhancing U.S. national security, as stated by practically all current and living former U.S. Defense and State secretaries, Pentagon and NATO top brass, and the expert community. Over and above this, it may offer yet another chance for U.S. to engage Russia, still a nuclear superpower despite all the setbacks it has suffered, and clearly the biggest, most populous and arguably most powerful country in Europe.
Twenty years ago the Russian government’s stated objective was a formal alliance with the United States and NATO. Russia pursued a strongly pro-American foreign policy, while the United States enjoyed unprecedented affection and admiration among masses of ordinary Russians. Today, U.S. - Russia relations have been practically shattered but, as the recent NATO summit in Lisbon shows, there is a thrust to move towards achieving the same goal that many of us dreamed of after the collapse of communism.
It just happens that the fate of this treaty is in your hands. Knowing you we are sure you will look at this matter not from a narrow partisan view but as a statesman with a great vision for the welfare and security of the United States and mankind. Do what’s right for America: Ratify the treaty.
Warm regards and Happy Thanksgiving,
American University in Moscow
James George Jatras
Former Foreign Policy Analyist, U.S. Senate Republican Policy Comittee
Former U.S. Foreign Service Officer
• The reality is, despite what anybody says, I as secretary of defense and the entire uniformed leadership of the American military believe that this treaty is in our national security interest.
Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense
• So, I believe, and the rest of the military leadership in this country believes, that this treaty is essential to our future security. I believe it enhances and ensures that security. And I hope the Senate will ratify it quickly.
Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff
• Today marks a fresh start in NATO-Russia relations. For the first time in history, NATO countries and Russia will be cooperating to defend themselves. Our security is indivisible. We share important interests and face the same threats to our common security.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary-General at the November 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon
• The fact that we are talking to Russia about common threats and the chance to cooperate with Russia on missile defense is an extremely important step. That could be proof that the Cold War has finally come to an end.
Angela Merkel , Chancellor of Germany
OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR JON KYL