The Bush Administration's determination to build missile defense in spite of treaty obligations will shatter that progress, as well as undermine the international rule of law, which is critical to a wide range of U.S. interests.
Treaties such as the ABM Treaty, Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT), Start I and II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
(CTBT) have all been important steps toward the reduction of
nuclear dangers and the ultimate elimination of these weapons. This
work is far from finished however, as there are still almost 36,000
nuclear weapons in the world, thousands on hair-trigger alert,
ready to launch on a moment's notice - 24 hours a day, seven days a
The Bush Administration has already stated that it does not want
the U.S. to ratify the CTBT, and now President Bush is talking
about the ABM Treaty as a relic that must be scrapped. Such actions
will only encourage other countries to acquire missile technology
and weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. had agreed to ratify the
CTBT during negotiations in 1997 as an inducement for other
countries to agree to the indefinite extension of the NPT. If the
U.S. reneges on that promise, other countries are likely to renege
on their promise not to develop or acquire nuclear weapons.
The Bush Administration has also announced that it will not
abide by the Kyoto environmental protocols signed by the U.S. in
1998. Such a shortsighted policy of selective adherence to
international law and treaty obligations will effect far more than
the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The U.S. depends on other countries around the world to assist
in the pursuit of a wide range of interests, including
transportation, trade, patents, drugs, narco-traffiking and other
international criminal activity. If the U.S. undermines the rule of
law when it is convenient for the current Administration, other
countries will follow suit when it is convenient for them. If the
U.S. demonstrates that it does not comply with its treaty
obligations in good faith, why should other countries enter into
negotiations of any kind with the United States?
If the rule of international law
fails as a result of the Bush Administration's actions, it is the
U.S. that will be the biggest loser in the long run.