President Obama seems likely to end 2010 with one less feather in his cap than he counted on: The new arms control treaty with Russia that numbered among his top foreign policy goals for the year appears to be dead in the water. The White House was "blindsided and angered" yesterday, reports the New York Times, when Sen. Jon Kyl, the GOP-designated arbiter of the deal who the administration had foisted all its hopes on, moved to block a vote on the treaty—something the White House learned about by way of reporters.
Kyl said he didn't think enough time remained in the lame-duck session to address "the complex and unresolved issues related to Start and modernization." The administration had spent many months trying to woo Kyl and his fellow Senate Republicans, committing to spending some $80 billion to modernize our nuclear weapons complex and on Friday throwing another $4.1 billion in the pot. The Times reports that White House officials met with, called, or briefed Kyl and his staff some 29 times regarding the treaty—according to which both countries would reduce their nuclear arsenals and permit mutual inspections—and had been optimistic about sealing the deal this week. Chances of it being ratified now are slim.