Opposing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in the U.S. Congress: Ideological analysis of Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee Hearings

  • Teemu Mäkinen University of Tampere
Keywords: Congress, committee, ideology, foreign policy, arms control


The 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.

Author Biography

Teemu Mäkinen, University of Tampere
Teemu Mäkinen is a Doctor of Social Sciences (DSSc.) currently employed by the Finnish Immigration Service. Mäkinen defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Tampere in February 2018. His doctoral thesis and academic work are focused on the interconnectedness of American domestic and foreign policy, the role of U.S. Congress in American foreign policy making and American foreign policy traditions. In the future, he plans to shift his focus from transatlantic security to a wider set of foreign policy issues, such as U.S. immigration and environmental policies. He can be reached teemup.makinen@gmail.com.