“I transmit herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Treaty on Open Skies. I believe that the Treaty on Open Skies is in the best interest of the United States. By engaging all participating States actively in cooperative observation, the Treaty on Open Skies will strengthen international stability. The Treaty also provides an important means of increasing mutual understanding of military forces and activities, thus easing tensions and strengthening confidence and security, not only in the area covered by the Treaty, but in other areas as well.”
So reads the letter of transmission of the Open Skies Treaty from President George Bush, the First, to the US Senate on August 12, 1992.
On May 21, 2020 President Trump stated that the United States of America would withdraw from the Treaty and on the following day, May 22, the American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, filed the formal withdrawal document, the withdrawal taking effect in six months.
The withdrawal from yet another international treaty by the United States signals not only its contempt for other nations and international law but also confirms that it has completely abandoned diplomacy as a means of achieving political objectives and raised war to state policy. It is a rejection not only of previous Bush’s statement that the Treaty is in the best interests of the US it is also a crude rejection of President Eisenhower’s statement made in 1955 at the Geneva Summit with the USSR where he proposed such a treaty,
“I believe mankind longs for freedom from war and the rumours of war. I came here because of my lasting faith in the decent instincts and good sense of the people who populate this world of ours.”
The Soviets rejected the proposal at the time due to the fact that the Americans would have obtained more from surveillance of Soviet territory than the Soviets would obtain from flights over the USA. With the changes in the balance of power with the fall of the USSR and the hopes of some at the time to reduce the risk of nuclear war the idea was resurrected and the Treaty was signed by members of NATO and the Warsaw Pact on March 24, 1992, though only coming into effect on January 1, 2002. Thirty-Five nations are now parties to the Treaty, which gives each of them the right to overfly another member’s territory, under agreed terms and conditions, to monitor military activity and capability, though in practice it is the US and Russia that conduct most of the flights.
The benefit to the quest for peace in the world is obvious for it is less likely that a nation would prepare to attack another member state if that state can see what the potential attacker is doing. Surprise is always a key element of military and political strategy in war. The parties to the Treaty were willing to give up the element of surprise in order to ensure peace in the world. It is now clear that the United States has withdrawn from the Treaty, not because of their pretext of complaints against Russia, which no one takes seriously, but because it wants to restore its element of surprise, because it is no longer interested in maintaining world peace, but is intent on world war. No other logical conclusion can be drawn.
The Americans are also threatening to renew open air testing of new nuclear weapons in violation of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, signed by the USA, USSR and UK in 1963, which prohibits open-air nuclear explosions. That Treaty was a response to the international outcry against the radioactive fallout danger produced by open-air nuclear tests. Some consider it the first international environmental regulation. But President Trump has no regard for the environment whatsoever. Moreover the objective of the proposed tests is not to see if their weapons work. American officials have stated that the tests would be conducted for political purposes, in other words, to intimidate, to threaten the world with what they can do.
The United States has also withdrawn from the treaty with Iran, the Nuclear Forces Treaty regarding placement of intermediate range missiles in Europe, and have placed in doubt the renewal of the START Treaty, which limits deployment of nuclear weapons by Russia and the USA to 1550 each. They continue to develop new types of nuclear weapons, continue to place “tactical” nuclear weapons in their battle formations, and have increased their ability to strike Russia from a line of missile sites close to the Russian border, extending from Poland to Bulgaria, which they claim are for anti-missile defence but are more likely to be used as first strike launch pads for a surprise nuclear attack on Russia. Yet, as they prepare for nuclear war, they demand that China joint the START renewal talks in order to stop China from building up its smaller nuclear forces to a level that will be an effective deterrent against a US attack. The Chinese see through this bluff and refuse to take part since the American strategic doctrine states they will use nuclear weapons whenever and wherever they deem fit and retain their first strike doctrine.
The Russians and some NATO members in Europe have expressed their alarm at this decision and even some members of the US Congress have stated that it raises the risk of war. There will be conferences about it, meetings, as the remaining members, particularly Russia, try to see if anything can be salvaged. But will America’s NATO allies be permitted to accept Russian over flights of their territories when the US has pulled out of the Treaty? I cannot see Canada, for example, which has once again proven its status as a dependency of the United States with its continued illegal detention of Meng Wanzhou and its sycophantic support of the United States aggression the world over in every aspects of its foreign policy and propaganda, allowing any Russian flights over its territory.
The Americans have made noises about reconsidering their position on the Treaty if the Russians admit to alleged violations, but it was an offer designed to be ignored as soon as it was made. The fact is the new reality is that the United States has openly declared itself against peace and for war, despite the occasional glad-hand rhetoric from President Trump. War is now their declared foreign policy.
While Russia continues to push for a diplomatic solution in public the practical question for Russia is what are the Americans trying to hide? What are they up to they do not want anyone to see? What are their intentions? When we begin to ask these questions we lead ourselves into the dark shadows of humanity, the dark reaches of psychopathic minds, and what we see would frighten the gods.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Article VI requires the parties to the Treaty to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures toward complete nuclear disarmament. Trumps actions and decisions are a fundamental violation and negation of that Treaty. But who is to ‘sanction” it for this? What are the consequences? None. There are no mechanisms to enforce these Treaties, except possibly an indictment for war crimes by the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court for the crime of aggression and conspiracy to commit aggression. But the USA is not a party to the Treaty creating the ICC and the prosecution at the ICC is a handmaiden of the US and the European Union and would do nothing even if the ICC had jurisdiction.
The United States economic power is in decline. It’s conventional wars for hegemony of resources and markets have bankrupted it and failed. The rapidly declining conditions of life for its people have demoralised them. The ruling elites, morally bankrupt and self-interested, are unable to imagine any other way out of the mess they have created except more war. But since they are now weaker in every respect but one, their nuclear arsenal, they will rely on their ability to destroy the world in a nuclear war to try to bring the rest of the world under its domination, to create the first world empire, ruled from Washington, by madmen. For they are mad. They actually think they can win and prosper from a nuclear war, their stockpile of weapons only exceeded by the scale of their delusions.
Attempts to establish a world order in which a dialogue of civilizations is the norm instead of conflict between civilizations are foundering on a crude return to a ”might makes right” attitude against which any attempt to insist on adherence to international law and norms, even common morality, is viewed as a weakness to be exploited.
The question therefore arises as to how nations and peoples can establish the necessary legal mechanisms to survive and flourish when there exist those who oppose any such mechanisms being established.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”