‘Russians are mystified’

‘RUSSIANS ARE MYSTIFIED’…. I find it genuinely insane that Senate Republicans would ignore U.S. national security interests and kill the pending arms control treaty with Russia, New START.

But imagine how Russia feels.

Russians are mystified. They can’t quite believe that the U.S. Senate might fail to ratify the nuclear arms treaty, and they see no good from such an outcome.

The list of possible harmful effects they cite encompasses a minefield of global concerns: no more cooperation on Iran, a setback for progressive tendencies in Russia, new hurdles for Russian membership in the World Trade Organization, a terrible example for nuclear countries such as China and India, dim prospects for better NATO relations. And to top it off, the United States and its president would look ridiculous.

Sergei M. Rogov, director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, told the Post he simply didn’t believe Republicans would go through with this, unambiguous threats notwithstanding. “In arms control, Russian and American cooperation is crucial,” Rogov said. “I really don’t think Republicans want to kill arms control.”

The problem, I suspect, is that much of the world assumes Republican officials in the United States place the country’s well being above all else. International observers, in other words, believe elected American politicians want to do things that would benefit America. It’s a simple matter of self-interest, which tends to motivate practically everyone in international affairs.

In this case, we’re talking about a treaty that would keep tabs on Russia’s long-range nuclear bases, bolster American credibility around the globe, weaken Iran and North Korea, improve Russian cooperation in Afghanistan, and diminish the political strength of hard-liners in Moscow. For Americans who want to help America, it’s a no-brainer.

But Obama Derangement Syndrome doesn’t just lead right-wing activists to believe ridiculous things, it’s also a sickness that causes powerful Republican officials to put partisanship over patriotism.

Note that Senate Republicans who intend to kill New START can’t even explain themselves. They’re not holding out for some new concession; they don’t have a list of demands; they haven’t identified flaws in the measure they find intolerable. Their opposition is simply mindless. The White House needs the treaty to improve our national security, so Republicans are against it to deny the White House a victory.

No wonder Russians are “mystified.” Since when do American leaders deliberately act against American interests? The world is watching Washington, assuming that President Obama can’t convince Americans to do the right thing. But the problem isn’t with the country; it’s with a few dozen people in the Senate, whose partisan hatred has clouded their judgment in ways that are literally hard to believe.

In related news, we also learned this morning that the U.S. intelligence community will likely have to move spy satellites away from Iraq and Afghanistan, and towards Russia as a consequence of GOP obstinacy on New START.

It’s tempting to think Republicans would hear this and want to prevent it. But that would presume that they actually care.