Two modified Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) Block IV interceptors are launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency test to intercept a short-range ballistic missile target June 5, 2008 in the Pacific Ocean west of Kauai, Hawaii. The missile, one of two launched, intercepted the target approximately 12 miles high on the Pacific Missile Range Facility. This was the second of two successful intercepts of the sea-based terminal capability and the fourteenth overall successful test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Program.

Following a recent meeting with the President, some of our pro-ballistic missile defense (BMD) Senators expressed public optimism that ratification of New START still might be possible in the lame duck session, that their concerns about our freedom to deploy vital BMD systems have been allayed by presidential assurances that nothing in New START will present any constraints or limitations on our missile defense plans, or words to that effect.

This raises a number of questions for me, which I hope some or all of you might help me on.

Does this mean that an amendment to New START that would clarify the President’s assurances on this matter—such as, for instance, either re-statement or clarification of Paragraph Nine of the Preamble, or Paragraph Three of Article V, or Article XII and Part Six of the Protocol (re: proposed BCC), or Article IX, Part Seven of the Protocol (including Annex of Telemetric Information), as well as several other places, such as limits on target missiles used for tests—will be offered at or before time of ratification?

If no such amendment is contemplated, then by what means were these necessary requirements for verifiable presidential assurances otherwise discussed and presented to the visiting Senators?

Were these assurances verbal, as in an oral agreement? A handshake? What?

Is there not an obligation to describe and delineate these assurances, per the above points?

Is this an issue to be handled the same way as did the President and his Administration when they announced some months ago that the East Coast would be open for off-shore drilling—only to be rescinded yesterday?

As some of you know, for 50 years I have been a student and an observer of radical coercion and conflict in political systems and situations. The cornerstone of this kind of strategy is isolation of leadership by intimidation—something I have written about and still lecture on. Thus, I am much aware of the enormous pressures put upon these good men and women in the Senate, some of America’s finest. It is sheer hell, because it is the last resort left to a determined opposition. Hopefully these Senators can stay the course. All of us should pitch in to help them.

R. Daniel McMichael is an Independent Consultant and Defense/Security Analyst.

The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.