Did Obama Sell Out Our Closest Ally To Get New START?
A new Wikileaks revelation indicates that the U.S. may have paid a heavy price to get a deal on New START.
The London Telegraph is out this morning with a report dug from the depths of the Wikileaks cables that, if true, could do serious damage to the United States’s relationship with it’s closest ally:
Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.
The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called “special relationship”, which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website.
Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.
Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.
Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain.
The Telegraph’s Nile Gardiner is, perhaps understandably, a little outraged:
The matter is serious enough to merit Congressional hearings in Washington as well as parliamentary hearings in London. It is easy to see why the Obama team refused to allow the US Senate access to the negotiating documents for New START, as they would have sparked outrage on both sides of the Atlantic that would almost certainly have killed the Treaty. The Telegraph report clearly contradicts repeated claims by the Obama negotiating team that no side deals were struck with their Russian counterparts. Not for the first time, the current US administration has been eager to appease America’s enemies while shamelessly undercutting her allies.
The decision to give the Russians this information even after the British had explicity refused to consent to our doing so is puzzling and just a little bit outrageous. While I still tend to think that New START will be a net plus for the U.S., both in terms of economics and national security, the idea of selling out an ally with which we’ve had century-long special relationship makes no sense at all. More importantly, it seems to send a message to other allies that they’re subject to having their secrets revealed if it suits our interest. This would seem to make it less likely that they’ll cooperate with us in the future.
I tend to agree with Gardiner that investigations are called for at this point. The Brits will certainly be looking into this, and we should too. Selling out allies is not the way to make friends and influence people
Update: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley has responded to the Telegraph story via Twitter:
So there’s the beginning of the U.S. response to this. Like I said, the allegation strikes me as serious enough that the question at least needs to be asked. If it turns out there’s nothing to this story, then there’s nothing to this story.
Update 2: I have written more about the State Department’s response to these charges in a separate post.
Update 3: The British Government is backing the State Department.