Sunday, August 24, 2008

Coleman's out-of-touch record: His misguided support for new nuclear weapons

Original Link:

by: Jeff Rosenberg

This is the seventh in a series of weekly articles exposing Norm Coleman's record on the issues. For a list of previous articles, go here.

As the material on CQ Weekly for this series started to run thin, I received an email from Reva Patwardhan
of Peace Action West about some of Norm "W" Coleman's dangerous votes on foreign policy. Peace Action West is an organization which advocates for "broad-based civic activism to create a strong voice for peaceful and pragmatic solutions to global problems." They developed a Congressional scorecard to highlight Congressmen's votes on foreign policy and peace. I'm sure nobody thinks Norm "W" Coleman is in favor of a peaceful foreign policy, but you'll be surprised just how bad he is.

In fact, there are so many bad votes in these scorecards that I'm going to spend at least two weeks going through them. This, week, I explore Coleman's misguided support for nuclear weapons. After the Cold War was over, most people thought the threat of continuing nuclear proliferation was over. So why are Coleman and other conservatives still voting to expand our nuclear arsenal?

Conservatives in Congress have been pushing the concepts of low-yield nuclear weapons and nuclear earth-penetrator weapons. Despite being smaller than conventional nuclear weapons, they are still nuclear weapons, and will result in substantial civilian casualties. The Federation of American Scientists warns:

By seeking to produce usable low-yield nuclear weapons, we risk blurring the now sharp line separating nuclear and conventional warfare, and provide legitimacy for other nations to similarly consider using nuclear weapons in regional wars.
Yet for some reason, Norm supports them. Here is some documentation of his votes:

2003 [pdf link]

Coleman voted three times to expand the United States' nuclear weapons arsenal. He voted twice to approve research on low-yield nuclear weapons (Votes #186, 187). He also voted for nuclear earth penetrator weapons (Vote #189). These votes aren't "strong on defense," they're simply irresponsible.

2004 [pdf link]

Edward Kennedy (D-MA) tried to include a provision in the Defense Authorization Bill that would prohibit the use of $36.6 million for a study of Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator "bunker buster" weapons and a Stockpile Services Advanced Concepts Initiative, which includes research into a "low yield" nuclear weapons. Of course, Coleman voted AGAINST it (Vote #113).

2006 [pdf link]

Coleman didn't just vote for more nuclear weapons for us; he seems fine allowing nuclear proliferation around the world. During the debate over nuclear cooperation with India, Russ Feingold (D-WI) proposed an amendment would have required that the India deal could only move forward if the president certified that civilian nuclear cooperation with India did nothing to assist, encourage or induce India to manufacture or acquire additional nuclear weapons. I supported the deal with India, but the deal needed to be about civilian nuclear energy only; we don't want to fund other countries' nuclear proliferation. I'd love to hear Coleman's justification for this one.

The bottom line: There's no good reason to be in support of nuclear proliferation. A nuclear war would be devastating to the whole world, and I have to believe nobody wants that. We have the most advanced army in the world, and the most advanced weapons in the world. New nuclear weapons don't serve any functional purpose, yet Norm "W" Coleman has consistently voted for them. That's warmongering foreign policy at its worst.

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