THE SPINE NOVEMBER 22, 2010
"Spineless spiral" is Maureen Dowd's quite apt characterization of Barack Obama and his initiatives. Even his most cherished initiatives like the one to get a New Start of the old Start nuclear weapons treaty agreed to by the Russians and then, of course, by the U.S. Senate. The Russians have done so. I agree with Ms. Dowd and Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and Senator Lugar and Robert Kagan, the hard-nosed sometime contributor to TNR, that the treaty should be ratified. And since it has no chance of getting ratified in the new Senate it should be brought up when the Democrats still have a comfortable margin. Which is now!
Actually, the treaty is not exactly a matter of life and death. No one in Europe is going to blow anybody up...except the jihadists. But they are, so to speak, outside the realm of negotiated agreements. Still, if we please the Russians on this -something they actually care about- they may just team up with us on other matters. Like Iran or North Korea. But who knows? In any case, China is the key to Pyongyang. And they cooperate about nothing.
Obama's even spineless spiral has never included removing "don't ask, don't tell" from the books. He has rather limply indicated that this ugly formula (these are not at all his words) should no longer be enshrined in law. My guess is that he hasn't made a single phone call about this gruesome ethic. Does it really offend him? Maybe, maybe not. I suspect not.
But it does offend Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who knows that the entire issue will be held hostage to a heavily weighted Republican House and more than a few Democrats who may as well be Republicans. So, according to Associated Press, the admiral told ABC's This Week that "he supports ending the ban because asking people to lie about themselves goes against the integrity of the armed services."