I've got a new piece up over at the mothership outlining the key factors in New START's success. You can read it here
Here's the intro:
On February 2, President Obama officially ratified the New START treaty in a low-key signing ceremony at the White House. The eight month-long campaign to win the Senate’s approval of the treaty, however, was anything but low-key. It was a knock down, drag out fight, the outcome of which was in doubt until the very end.
The enormity of the achievement should not be taken for granted.
Sure, New START had a lot of things going for it. Substantively it was a very modest treaty and enjoyed the support of our entire military leadership and just about every national security expert on the planet. Fifty six Democratic and two independent Senators were locks to support it, meaning the administration needed to win nine Republican votes. And the treaty had the strong backing of a President deeply committed to nuclear risk reduction.
But the treaty faced enormous obstacles, the most significant being a political environment defined by extreme partisanship. In the end, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip Jon Kyl opposed the treaty. So too did John McCain and Lindsay Graham, both considered to be moderate Republican leaders on defense policy. No previous arms control agreement has ever been approved under such circumstances.
Below I’ve tried to identify some of the key factors that pushed New START across the finish line. I’ve divided them into four levels of analysis: the administration, the Senate, the media, and NGO and grassroots. The list is not exhaustive, nor does it seek to identify lessons learned, although there are many, both positive and negative.
In general, the administration and its allies in the Senate kept New START on the path to approval by painstakingly working to build a bipartisan majority, rather than by humiliating or shaming undecided Republican Senators. Much to the chagrin of some treaty supporters, this required negotiation, compromise, and logrolling. Equally important, the administration and its allies called on key military leaders and former Republican officials to publicly and privately stress the national security merits of the treaty and its importance for U.S. leadership. They capitalized on the other side’s mistakes. And they benefited from some luck. That is how New START was won.