Blackmail Versus Self-Interest

Author: Gary Hart

Occasions for the United States to make a diplomatic breakthrough that is in its self-interest, that makes the world safer, and that benefits future generations are rare.  When they do occur they almost always have to do with reducing nuclear arsenals.  Such is the pending New Start treaty.

That being the case, why should the president have to pay blackmail to get Republican votes for ratification?  For it is blackmail, pure and simple, that is being demanded in exchange for votes for ratification.  And even when the president agrees to pay it, the Republicans turn him down. 

Consider this: your daughter has been kidnapped and you need your neighbor’s help to rescue her.  He agrees to help if you pay him a  million dollars.  You pay him the million.  Then he changes his mind.  Not quite the same, but close.

As the price for voting for a treaty virtually every serious person in both political parties favors, the Republicans demanded $85 billion (at a time of huge deficits and demands for “smaller government”) to “modernize” our nuclear arsenal over coming years.  Bin Laden seems not to care if we have nuclear weapons and no one is able to say against whom they might be used.

President Obama took the bait and promised the money.  The Republicans quickly backed out of an agreement and announced opposition to a treaty manifestly in our self-interest.  In better times this would cost the Republican party dearly.  But these are not better times.  They are times when few pay attention, even to an issue as vital to their children’s security as fewer Russian nuclear weapons and renewed inspection of nuclear sites.  The Republican leaders fears no citizen reprisal for its mendacity.  They know that too few people take the trouble to study their own self-interest and to hold accountable those who violate it.

If Washington is broken, as the current political rhetoric suggests, it will stay broken until voters connect their votes with the ridiculous behavior of those they vote for.

5 Responses to “Blackmail Versus Self-Interest”

  1. Dave Says:

    Sen. Hart, do you have a Facebook page? I think the information offered on your blog might get out to a few more folks if you were on more of the social networking sites. Some very interesting thoughts here. Thanks.

  2. Larry Fiori Says:

    You can blame the ignorance,callousness,even stupidity of the general public for the lack of attention to such matters as nuclear treaty options if you wish. For me, I’ve given up caring. I take my political philosophy from the great George Carlin who in his famous, spot-on rant, ” The American Dream,” told us we (the People)actually have no choice, no control, no future fighting against the Powers that control us. You can catch this on YouTube for a review of this classic commentary.

    Thanks, however, for your attempts at reasonable dialogue with the implacable foes of our society. They win. They always win…

  3. Publius Says:

    We have a disinterested body politic. They are placated with material possession and the belief that there is even more if you just leave them alone. The Republicans have struck the nerve of America that the institution of government is bad. That regulation and restraint are violations of the free market, so why should this shock you Mr. Hart?

    As a country we like the idea of superiority, the hubris of nuclear domination clouds any real debate on the reduction of arms. We just want to know how we can get the “new and improved” nukes, not ridding the Earth of this menace.

    There is little to suggest that the American public has the gumption to become informed/involved about any issues except those that impact their pocketbooks. The connection between citizenry to their government is a dangerous void and is expanding daily. We have relinquished control of the government to those who can shape the most attractive message. There isn’t a sense of urgency about arms reduction, we haven’t been told to care. Peace isn’t sexy it gives the appearance of weakness which provides even greater fodder for the mealy-mouthed, posturing jingoists, of the Faux Right.

    We are the proletariat and the bourgeoisie merely use us to their delight.

  4. Pat Boice Says:

    Dispiriting to say the least! What will it take for Americans to wake up and “smell the coffee”? So often we hear the term, “Where is the outrage?” I have plenty of outrage, write letters to the two GOP senators here in Idaho, and their answers are the boilerplate GOP mantra. I donate $$ to Progressive causes, but I don’t really feel as though much of anything is making a dent! We had great hopes for Pres. Obama, and I still think he can capture America’s hope again, but it won’t be by bi-partisanship!!

  5. Neal Taslitz, Esq. Says:

    As always, your comments are excellent advice for our leaders and citizens.

    As we approach Thanksgiving, the American Holiday I enjoy the most, I am thankful for people like yourself, and others I have known over my six decades of life, who are not a product of popular culture which Sarah Palin suggests is the most important force that drives new ideas in her latest book, and recent interviews.

    I believe that more important principles and more important ideas regarding our future are the product of hundreds or thousands of years of wisdom which and as T. Jefferson said, and as quoted by you: “Stand like a rock.”

    I am thankful that our country had had leaders who “draw a line in the sand” and will not letter others cross it.

    I am thankful that I have survived six decades of life despite the fact that many of my friends and family have not, although I refuse to forget their lives, and how they inspired me.

    I am thankful that I have a 20 year old son in college, who I have been able to pass on much of the wisdom that you have bestowed on me and others over the years without asking anything in return.

    I am thankful, that you have endured and remained a good friend to those who understood that you do not compromise your principles, and have remained active as a private citizen and a Patriot even during the darkest hours, and caring to your friends, even when you have so many other responsibilities.

    May God bless you and your family, and may you and your family have a peaceful, healthy and Happy Thanksgiving,

    Neal J. Taslitz
    Loxahatchee, Florida

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