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Reagan Aide Perle: START 'Seriously Flawed'

By Dan Weil and Ashley Martella   |   Thursday, 16 Dec 2010 07:40 PM

Instead of pressuring reluctant Republican senators for rapid ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, the Obama administration should just drop it, says Richard Perle, a key architect of President Ronald Reagan’s strategy to end the Cold War.

“It’s a seriously flawed treaty,” Perle, now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says during an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV. “It’s certainly not the kind of treaty Ronald Reagan fought for and accomplished.”

The pact is very weak on verification, he says. “For example, our right to inspections is limited to sites the Russians declare . . . which makes a mockery of the whole idea of on-site inspections,” Perle explains. “Imagine when Iran asserts a similar right to limit inspections, or the North Koreans or others. For that reason alone, it’s a very doubtful agreement.”

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Plenty of time is needed to examine the treaty. “That won’t be done if they vote immediately,” he notes. “The Senate has never seen the full negotiating record on the treaty.”

That’s because the Obama administration doesn’t want a serious examination of the dispute between the United States and Russia over ballistic missile defense, Perle says.

“Russia claims that, if we build future ballistic missile defenses that impinge on what they believe to be their national security, then all bets are off, and the treaty no longer applies,” he says. “That would inhibit our ballistic missile defense program, even though it’s not aimed at Russia — it’s aimed at Iran, North Korea, and others.”

The Obama administration essentially has handed Russia a veto over our missile defense program, Perle says. “At any point they can say we don’t like what you’re doing, you’re putting us in a position where we’ll walk away from this treaty. I think this president would back down under those circumstances.”

A close examination of all this is vital, but the White House refuses to turn over the negotiating records, says Perle, who was President Ronald Reagan’s assistant defense secretary.

“This treaty doesn’t need to be signed now, and I don’t believe it needs to be signed at all. There is no reason after the Cold War why we can’t build what we think is necessary and let the Russians build what they want. We don’t need a treaty to regulate relations between us.”

As for the war in Afghanistan, “it’s very hard to judge progress in a war of this kind,” Perle tells Newsmax.TV. “Attacks are up. The key to fighting an insurgency like this is persuading the population we are the winning side.”

But President Barack Obama’s imposition of a deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan makes the effort much more difficult, Perle says. “In effect, he’s saying to any Afghan who’s trying to decide whether to cooperate with an insurgent, the U.S. is going to be out of here. The clear implication is that a smart Afghan will work with the people who will be there after we’re gone.”

Regarding the contentious issue of nuclear Iran, Perle says Israel will have to attack Iran to prevent it from developing such weapons.

“Time is running out on [halting] Iran’s nuclear program, though I believe they’ve been dealt a severe setback by the clever insertion of a worm [computer virus] in their control systems,” Perle says.

And in the Asian theater, North Korea will continue to cause problems for the United States because the Obama administration isn’t willing to put enough pressure on China to moderate the rogue nation’s behavior, Perle said.

The United States has tolerated North Korea’s outrageous behavior for too long, Perle says.

“Our task is to make our views so emphatic that China will respond,” he said. “I believe we could do that, but we haven’t. The Obama administration has been unwilling to deliver the necessary ultimatum to China.”

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