Opposing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in the U.S. Congress: Ideological analysis of Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee Hearings
Keywords: Congress, committee, ideology, foreign policy, arms control
AbstractThe United States Senate voted to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia in 2010 by 74-26, all 26 voting against being Republicans. The change in the voting outcome compared to the 95-0 result in the 2003 SORT vote was dramatic. Using inductive frame analysis, this article analyzes committee hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations and the Armed Services committees in order to identify competing narratives defining individual senators’ positions on the ratification of the New START. Building on conceptual framework introduced by Walter Russel Mead (2002), it distinguishes four schools of thought: Jacksonian, Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian, and Wilsonian. The argumentation used in the hearings is deconstructed in order to understand the increase in opposition to the traditionally bipartisan nuclear arms control regime. The results reveal a factionalism in the Republican Party. The argumentationin opposition to ratification traces back to the Jacksonian school, whereas argumentation supporting the ratification traces back to Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian and Wilsonian traditions. According to opposition, the Obama administration was pursuing its idealistic goal of a world-without-nuclear-weapons and its misguided Russia reset policy by any means necessary – most importantly by compromising with Russia on U.S. European-based missile defense.