The Administration Gets It Wrong on Arms Control, Again

Ted Bromund /

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the U.S. would seek a “strong international standard” in the control of the conventional arms trade by “seizing the opportunity presented by the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations.” But the participation comes with a caveat: the U.S. will actively support negotiations only if the conference “operates under the rule of consensus decision-making needed to ensure that all countries can be held to standards that will actually improve the global situation.”

As we have noted before, the arms trade treaty is a dangerous multilateral mistake in the making. But the Secretary’s announcement adds a new layer of error. The U.S., as the Secretary noted, has the highest standards on arms exports in the world. In any negotiations on the arms trade, the U.S. is therefore the state most likely to disrupt the consensus. Far from being a weapon for the U.S. to use against states with low standards, the demand for consensus – which the U.S. has no power to enforce – will in the negotiations be turned against the U.S., and will be used to exert pressure on America to lower its own standards for the sake of concluding a weak treaty. (more…)