Every so often, Fox News produces a segment so asinine, stupid, and intellectually dishonest that your jaw drops as you wonder how these people wound up on television. Tonight's exchange between Hannity guest host Mark Steyn and actor Jon Voight was just that.
If you just finished the segment and currently find yourself wishing for those precious minutes of your life back, rest assured that we know how you feel. Being that there's a smorgasbord of nonsense in there to choose from, we'll just cover a few greatest hits.
STEYN: Joining me now with reaction is the sanest man in Hollywood, Jon Voight. Jon, this whole thing seems like something from another era, the idea of so much being attached to getting a treaty with Russia over a nuclear weapons. Is it even relevant to the world we are living in today?
Gee, Mark, not sure. But if we're looking for an informed, credible answer to that question, we would surely be better served by looking to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Michael Mullen, rather than Jon Voight. (Voight's appointment as "sanest man in Hollywood" and his Oscar-winning performance in Coming Home notwithstanding.) Thankfully, Mullen recently wrote a letter to Senator John Kerry explaining why the Joint Chiefs support the treaty. From Mullen's letter:
More than a year has passed since the last START inspector left Russian soil, and even if the treaty were ratified by the Senate in the next few days, months would pass before inspectors could return. Without the inspections that would resume 60 days after the entry into force of the treaty, our understanding of Russia's nuclear posture will continue to erode. An extended delay in ratification may eventually force an inordinate and unwise shift of scarce resources from other high priority requirements to maintain adequate awareness of Russian nuclear forces. Indeed, new features of the treaty's inspection protocol will increased transparency for both parties and therefore contribute to greater trust and stability.
So, in short: Yes, it's absolutely "relevant."
After that little offering of ignorant, dismissive nonsense, the main narrative of the segment became clear: Barack Obama wants to give up U.S. nuclear might so that, as Steyn put it, "the rest of the world will love us." If only we had Ronald Reagan to protect us! From Hannity:
VOIGHT: And now I hear Obama trying to convince the American people that if we give up our nuclear weapons, this will set a fine example and all other countries will follow suit. What a dangerous and naive notion that is. If President Reagan wasn't such a powerful force of strength, it -- we never would have seen Premier Gorbachev take down the Berlin Wall.
First of all, remember that first nuclear treaty? The first one to bear the name START? That was the one Ronald Reagan proposed in 1982 as a first step in meeting his "ultimate goal" of the "total elimination of nuclear weapons." Next, let's parse the phrase "give up our nuclear weapons." Sadly for Hollywood's Sanest, that phrase just does not describe the terms of the New START. As reported in an article reporting Mullen's letter in the Washington Post, the treaty would reduce "deployed, long-range warheads on both sides by up to 30 percent." Another Post article notes:
The New START treaty continues most verification procedures established in the 1991 agreement that ended last December while adding new ones; it also lowers slightly to 1,550 the deployed warheads allowed under the 2002 pact, which were 1,700 to 2,200.
Kyl worries that the administration has not allowed for funding increases that would enable the United States to maintain the roughly 5,000 warheads currently deployed and in reserve. (Although the New START treaty takes warheads off deployed status, it doesn't necessarily eliminate them, with many going to storage).
But the nonsense doesn't stop. From Hannity:
STEYN: Well, that's the point, isn't it? I mean, we are not talking about the bipolar Cold War world of Reagan and Gorbachev. We are talking about a world now where every nickel and dime psycho state like North Korea can go nuclear. North Korea, I think has a lower GDP per capita than Zimbabwe. It's down there at subbasement level 5, but it's a nuclear power. Iran wants to share its nuclear technology with Sudan. It's -- Iran's reached a missile deal with Venezuela. Why is -- why does Obama want to mortgage America's ability to react to those threats to some bilateral deal with Russia? It doesn't make any sense, does it?
VOIGHT: Well, our President Kennedy in September of 1961 -- and by the way he served in World War II, nearly losing his life -- and he stated that American military might is the only way to keep our freedom. Of course, President Reagan was of the same point of view. And thank God he had the foresight not to sign away our national missile defense when he saw the world full of present and future threats from multiple nuclear powers.
The U.S. will still have thousands of weapons after the treaty is ratified. Steyn thinks that's insufficient to maintain nuclear deterrence against the rogue states. North Korea will have far fewer; Iran will still have zero.
Once again, deferring to Chairman Mullen shows that all of that is absolute nonsense. From Mullen's previously cited letter, emphasis added:
The Joint Chiefs and I -- as well as the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command -- believe the treaty achieves important and necessary balance between four critical aims. It allows us to retain a strong and flexible American nuclear deterrent that will allow us to maintain stability at lower levels of deployed nuclear forces. It helps strengthen openness and transparency in our relationship with Russia. It will strengthen the U.S. leadership role in reducing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. And it demonstrates our national commitment to reducing the worldwide risk or a nuclear incident resulting from proliferation.
The Joint Chiefs and I are confident that the treaty does not in any way constrain our ability to pursue robust missile defenses.
It's easiest to ignore the facts of the treaty when you want to concoct the bunk narrative of a Democratic president who's just dying to give up U.S. nuclear power and aim a massive ICBM bull's eye toward the radical, nuclear happy regimes of the world. Sadly for Steyn and Voight, in the real world START has the support of military leaders, as well as Republican senators and former Secretaries of State. Prompt action on START is not a partisan checkbox; experts from both parties agree it's just good policy.