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New START: The World is Watching

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As the Senate considers whether to vote on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) this month, the debate has largely overlooked the most fundamental reason why rapid approval is important. From a technical standpoint, the treaty's lower limits on U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, data exchanges and inspections would make a modest but important contribution to reducing nuclear risks. Of far greater significance, though, is the political message that the Senate's action — or inaction — will send the rest of the world.

As the Senate deliberates, U.S. allies and other world leaders are watching closely. The amount of time and concessions required to secure Senate support for this treaty will reveal much about what the United States values, how it sees its role in the world, and whether its political system can reach bipartisan agreement on a low-cost, low-risk step that is an essential part of a global bargain to prevent proliferation and catastrophic terrorism.

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