EUROPEAN ALLIES BACK OBAMA ON NEW START…. Officials hoping to see the Senate ratify the pending arms control treaty with Russia, New START, considered retiring Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio the kind of Republican who might be amenable to good-faith outreach. Getting to 67 is proving to be far more difficult than it should, but if eight Senate Republicans are to be found, Voinovich seemed like the kind of member who might be reasonable.
It was terribly disappointing, then, to see Voinovich speak on the Senate floor on Wednesday, insisting that the treaty might imperil “captive nations” in Eastern Europe. The Ohio Republican added that he would need assurances that our “allies throughout Europe” would benefit from the policy.
I have no idea if Voinovich was being sincere, or if he’s looking for an excuse to oppose a worthwhile policy, but if Voinovich meant what he said, I have good news.
Nations on the front lines of the old Cold War divide made clear here Saturday that they want the Senate to ratify the new U.S.-Russia nuclear treaty, and said that Republican concerns about their well-being were misplaced.
In an unannounced group appearance at the end of an administration background briefing on Afghanistan, six European foreign ministers took the stage with a message for Congress.
“Don’t stop START before it’s started,” Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov said.
Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen emphasized not only his support, but his conservative bona fides. “I’m also the chairman of the Conservative Party of Denmark,” Espersen said. “Nobody can ever accuse me of being soft on security.” He then enthusiastically endorsed the treaty, to “at least make the Republican Party [aware] of how important this is.”
Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi added, “We advocate ratification of START. It is in the interest of my nation, of Europe and most importantly for the trans-Atlantic alliance.” He then added his ideological stamp of approval: “We’re all conservatives.”
Leaders from Poland, Bulgaria, and Norway also threw their support behind ratification.
And if all of those countries is a little too far west in Europe to impress Republicans, also note that leaders in Latvia and Lithunia are also anxious to see Republicans do the right thing on New START.
So, Sen. Voinovich, what do you say? If you were worried about European reactions, and Europe’s on board, can we count on your “yes” vote?