Why not negotiate from a position of strength?

In today's Wall Street Journal Keith Payne has an excellent article titled Arms Control Amnesia.  While the rest of the press continues to talk about the self inflicted death of a pop star, Mr. Payne actually analyzes what our President is doing.

It turns out our President is agreeing to new limits nuclear warheads and the ability to launch those warheads.  For the press that isn't covering M Jackson, this is a reason to wax eloquently on how well The One is doing.  For those with a more strategic mindset or not focused on fulfilling a college fantasy this is a disaster.

"According to open Russian sources, it was Russia that pushed for the lower limit of 500  launchers in negotiations."

Why would the Russians argue to lower their capability?  Simple, their nuclear capability is dying on the vine.  Without significant expenditure they won't even be able to maintain their current arsenal.

"....the number of deployed Russian strategic ICBMs, SLBMs, and bombers will drop dramatically simply as a result of their aging. In other words, a large number of Russian launchers will be removed from service with or without a new arms-control agreement."

The bottom line is that Russia would have to spend a great deal of money to merely maintain it's arsenal.  It was the spending of massive defense dollars that broke the former Soviet Union.  Don't for a second think that the Russians have forgotten that lesson, but it appears that The One has.  It's expensive and difficult to even attempt to keep up with the US military.  It's much better for the Russians to let the Americans give up their strategic advantage voluntarily.

Why is this so bad you ask?  It's simple economics.  If Russia feels she needs to spend more money on launch systems to try to maintain parity, then she has less money to involve herself in military adventures such as Georgia, ship arms to states that don't like us much, or any other host of anti-US policies.  Think of the things we could have negotiated for.  Just off from the top of my head; Help preventing a nuclear Iran.  An energy agreement that doesn't hold Western Europe hostage.  Help with strangling North Korea's despotic regime. Imagine the concessions that could have been negotiated merely by suggesting that the new treaty INCREASE launch vehicles while keeping the warhead count the same.  Surely short circuiting Iran's nuclear program and putting North Korea in a box is more valuable now than a reduction of nuclear arms between our 2 states.

Helping the world involves more than fulfilling a sophomoric college dream. It means thinking and using the power of your negotiating position to further your case.  A lesson not yet learned by The One.