Women make the case for ratifying the START Treaty, and Results from Week 8 of the Byline Survey

Happy Thanksgiving from the OpEd Project!

This week the editorial pages were full of commentary regarding Senator Jon Kyl’s (R-AR)declaration that the Senate should not vote on the new arms control treaty with Russia during the lame-duck session. The No. 2 Republican in the Senate, Kyl’s statement could very well jeaporadize the success of the Treaty ,which is a major component of Obama’s primary foreign policy initiative to “reset” relations with Russia and move towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons. In response to Kyl’s statement, President Obama called on Republicans to ratify the new nuclear arms treaty with Russia this year in his weekly national address. Mr. Obama called it “fundamental” to America’s national security and appealed to the legacy of former President Ronald Reagan. “Without ratification this year, the United States will have no inspectors on the ground, and no ability to verify Russian nuclear activities,” he said. “So those who would block this treaty are breaking President Reagan’s rule – they want to trust, but not verify.”

In highlighting the Treaty’s Republican origins, Obama hopes to encourage bipartisan support in the interest of national security. Numerous op-ed’s published this week called on Republican’s to lay aside political games and party interest and ratify the Treaty before the end of this congressional session. While the majority  of the commentary on START came from male contributors, Maureen Dowd and Valerie Plame Wilson published columns on the Treaty in the New York times and the Huffington Post respectively.

Dowd’s column argued that START holds enormous importance for Obama’s legacy, for “even if the treaty doesn’t much affect our strategic security, it affects the relationship with Russia and our standing in the world. And resetting the relationship with Russia, with his buddy Dmitri, is the president’s only significant foreign policy accomplishment.” According to Dowd, the Republican effort to block the Treaty will most likely backfire on their recent success in the midterm elections.

Wilson, a former CIA officer who worked on nuclear counterpoliferation efforts, views nuclear terrorism as the greatest threat to U.S. national security. She argues “that the best way to ensure our national security for the long term is to move to achieve the goal of total, global elimination of nuclear weapons,” and Russian cooperation in safeguarding nuclear weapons is essential. Wilson argues that if the Republicans succeed in their effort too block ratification of the New START treaty this year, “it could fray hard-earned Russian support for tough sanctions on Iran and disrupt important strategic initiatives with the Russians to secure all nuclear materials globally so they don’t fall into the hands of terrorists.”

The new START is supported by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen; high-ranking members of the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, H. W. Bush, Clinton, and W. Bush administrations — including such national security experts as George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, James Baker and Brent Scowcroft. Given its historical precedence and international significance, it seems the Republican effort to block the Treaty would only undermine the recent resurgence in support for their party. It is great to see such strong female arguments on a traditionally male-dominated topic! One hope’s that their words will help gather support in favor of START ratification.

Despite that great commentary, this week’s byline survey reveals some pretty dismal numbers. The New York Times published only 11% female authors this week, and the Huffington Post 18%. Due to Thanksgiving, the college newspapers published only two paper’s this week so that data is not included.


NYT         WSJ           WP           SA        HP         DB

%W           11            22            23          18          23          36

%M            89           78            77          82          77          64


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