I saw a leftist commentator (don’t remember who) make the point somewhere that it seems as if Republicans are against the START treaty because they’re simply against all treaties full stop. I think he may have a point. (Note: beyond the vague generalities I can guess at, I really have no idea what’s in the START treaty.)
It might be a more salient point, however, if it weren’t equally apparent that the left is pretty much in favor of the START treaty solely because it’s a treaty. That is: it’s some sort of Serious Document, which was presumably cooked up by some experts somewhere, if the United States signs it she’ll presumably have to do a bunch of stuff, and get rid of some weapons, and employ a bunch of expert bureaucrats in the process (for verification, and writing up docs, making reports, etc.) – and the left automatically likes all of those things, regardless of the treaty’s actual details. In fact you pretty much had the left at ‘the United States gets rid of some weapons’. Didn’t you?
You don’t have to be hugely observant to notice that on any treaty such as this, the left is constitutionally far more interested in constraining the United States from doing things, than in what happens in or is done by the co-signer of the treaty – whether it comes to verification, or realist assessments of the co-signer governments, the left is distinctly uninterested in the treaty’s actual effects – on anyone other than the United States, that is. If the United States signs the treaty, and abides by it, and Russia cheats like holy hell – my sincere and honest impression is that the left would take this as a perfectly desirable outcome.
With such values it’s no wonder that all the left needs to know is ‘it’s a treaty’ before favoring a treaty. This is why my favorite question about all such documents that the left forms strong opinions about is what’s your favorite part of it? But go ahead, prove me wrong, do tell, if you’re passionately in favor of us signing the START treaty, and think that only cretins could oppose it, let me know what your favorite part of it is, so that I may evaluate the basis for your passion myself. (Thanks in advance.)
Meanwhile, let me push back and give my two-cheers for conservative/Republican anti-treatyism. Because personally I find myself anti-treatyist too, and I think I have a rational basis for this reactionary stance: namely, it’s the only healthy response to a left which is promiscuously in favor of any/all treaties regardless of details.
If you have a little slutty sister who brings home any guy with tattoos and a motorcycle, all of whom beat her up, do you really need to investigate Guy #71 in full depth and detail in order to know that her getting involved with him is probably as bad an idea as Guys #1-70? At what point does it become not only defensible but rational to say, about your sister’s choice in guys, ‘if she’s for him, he’s probably a bad idea’? If no discriminating filter is in evidence, and no standards whatsoever seem to be applied, reactionary resistance can become the only sane option.
A rebuttal to this would consist of establishing that this time, the sister has chosen the guy on the basis of careful, deliberate consideration, taking the choice and its ramifications seriously, and weighing objectively some rationally-defensible standards and values of some sort. But, alas, I see no evidence of this whatsoever on the left; all I see is a Pavlovian salivating response to the word ‘treaty’ (a treaty very few of these lefties were talking about or presumably had even heard of two months ago) and to the generic concept of weakening the United States. It’s quite clear to me that, to many if not most lefties, ‘weakening the United States’ is all they need to know. About anything, really. And to me, that doesn’t betray a huge amount of taste or discrimination in treaties – thus merits no deference.
Again, though, I am prepared and perfectly willing to be proved wrong. It just hasn’t happened yet.
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