Sunday, July 15, 2007


Remember Nancy Reagan telling us all to “just say no”? How come no one but the equally dangerous seem to be able to say it to GWB? The Herald Tribune reports that
President Vladimir Putin formally notified NATO governments on Saturday that Russia will suspend its obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, a key Cold War-era arms limitation agreement, in response to American plans to deploy a missile shield in Eastern Europe.
When we heard this on the news this morning, I asked my (French) husband why none of the 25 or so other NATO members were able to refuse to go along with this missile shield hoax. He claims that NATO has always been just the US and everyone else follows along. I have trouble believing that. Everyone’s got a budget to balance, and EU members have budget responsibilities with respect to EU membership. Nicolas Sarkozy is making hash of those right now, sending France into extragalactic debt even without shelling out for a missile shield, but this is more the exception than the rule. Surely it would be more cost effective to invest in long-term war-prevention programs like fighting desertification, poverty, illiteracy, etc.?


Diane Marie Amann said...

Putting aside this specific context, there seems reason to fear a new round of states' withdrawal from international obligations. Sharp contrast from the post-Cold War moment of new cooperation.

Patrick S. O'Donnell said...

It would be interesting to attempt to account for the reasons for this difference in attitude and behavior among states. The U.S., of late, has not served as an exemplary model for other states as evidenced, for example, in its "hegemonic capture" of the UN Security Council, its use of the IMF and World Bank to leverage its own power (Chris Borgen), and its refusal to support the ICC. Moreover, as Borgen reminds us, the U.S. is now in the habit of "atttach[ing] reservations to treaties with dispute mechanisms or does not sign additional protocols that allow for such dispute resolution" and, of late, "has either rejected many recent multilateral treaties or let them die moribund in the Senate." It gets worse: "In other instances, the United States has started to reinterpet treaty language --ranging from the prohibitions of the ABM Treaty to the meaning of the Geneva and Torture Conventions...." (Borgen)

The failure of the Doha round of negotiations at the WTO further poisons the international economic legal climate, encouraging mercantilist and reactionary regionalism.

Regional hegemonic powers (e.g. Russia and China) are not blameless on this score, but it seems safe to say that the behavior of the "American imperium" has helped to awaken forces of balkanization and parochialism in response to its exceptionalist and unilateralist designs and behavior, and these are among the reasons we might cite for "fear[ing] a new round of states' withdrawal from international obligations."

Diane Marie Amann said...

For legal analysis of Russia's move, see "Russian Treaty Lawyers Work Lots of Overtime," by our Opinio Juris colleague Duncan Hollis, at