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Schwarzenegger calls opponents of New START ‘idiots’

Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger returned from a trip to Moscow with Silicon Valley executives with a strong message for those who are fighting against ratification of the New START nuclear treaty with Russia. "There are those in America that are trying to flex their muscles and pretend they’re ballsy by saying, ‘we’ve got to ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger returned from a trip to Moscow with Silicon Valley executives with a strong message for those who are fighting against ratification of the New START nuclear treaty with Russia.

"There are those in America that are trying to flex their muscles and pretend they're ballsy by saying, ‘we've got to keep those nuclear weapons,'" the governator told the U.S.-Russia Business Council Oct. 21. "[They think] that's very rugged, when you say that. It's not rugged at all. It's an idiot that says that. It's stupid to say that."

He praised President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for signing the agreement to reduce both countries' stockpiles of nuclear weapons and said they were in the tradition of the arms control efforts by former President Ronald Reagan and his Secretary of State George Shultz.

Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger returned from a trip to Moscow with Silicon Valley executives with a strong message for those who are fighting against ratification of the New START nuclear treaty with Russia.

"There are those in America that are trying to flex their muscles and pretend they’re ballsy by saying, ‘we’ve got to keep those nuclear weapons,’" the governator told the U.S.-Russia Business Council Oct. 21. "[They think] that’s very rugged, when you say that. It’s not rugged at all. It’s an idiot that says that. It’s stupid to say that."

He praised President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for signing the agreement to reduce both countries’ stockpiles of nuclear weapons and said they were in the tradition of the arms control efforts by former President Ronald Reagan and his Secretary of State George Shultz.

He called on the Senate to ratify the treaty during the post election lame duck session in Congress, as the administration has been pushing for.

"So as soon as the election is over we’ve all got to concentrate so that Congress makes their move forward and does that so that we can go and live in a safer world. That’s the most important thing," said Schwarzenegger.

He blamed the delay in ratifying the treaty on Congressional paralysis in the run up to the Nov. 2 election. "Now Congress has to go and agree with that and ratify it… They haven’t done that because there is a paralysis in Washington, which is the sad story when you live here."

So who exactly is the former body builder turned movie star turned politician calling ballsy idiots? Well, four Senators came out against publicly START by voting against in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: John Barrasso (R-WY), James Risch (R-ID), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and James Inhofe (R-OK).

South Carolina senator and Tea Party funder Jim DeMint is a vocal opponent of New START, although he did not show up for the committee vote on the treaty. DeMint is an avowed skeptic of the U.S. effort to reset relations with Russia, which he still sometimes confuses with the Soviet Union.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Republican Richard Lugar (R-IN), the administration’s key (and only) GOP Senate ally on New START, told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday that a vote during the lame duck session might not be in the cards if Republicans score big gains on Nov. 2.

"I have no idea what the results of the election will be, but in the event that there are very substantial changes and many of them on the Republican side, some will say, ‘This [treaty] is something that we really haven’t had a chance to get into and study, and we want more time,’" Lugar said, according to The Hill.

Meanwhile, Barrasso on Wednesday explicitly linked the New START treaty with an incident on Saturday morning where, according to the Atlantic, an ICBM squadron "went on the blink." The result was that 50 ICBM’s were unavailable for launch for a short time. Some in the GOP seem to be adding this to the very long list of concerns they have with the treaty.

"The accident shows that the United States has far more nuclear weapons than it needs for any conceivable military mission. Even without the 50 ICBMs, the United States had 400 other ICBMs similarly armed ready to launch within 15 minutes," said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, which supports ratification. "It also has 1500 additional warheads on 12 Trident submarines and a fleet of bombers ready to go. The New Start treaty trims that overkill capacity by a few hundred weapons over 7 years. We will still have enough destructive force in the US arsenal to destroy the planet."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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