Trump Closes America’s Skies

Other than beautiful women and grabbing headlines, there’s nothing President Donald Trump likes more than a public brawl. Last Friday, the leader of the free world pulled the pin on the “Open Skies Treaty,” a nearly two decade agreement between 34 countries to allow unrestricted, unarmed, surveillance missions over their respective territories. Since the treaty went into effect, over 1,500 reconnaissance flights have swooped in to collect data on each other’s military capabilities. Russia, however, has not been playing fair. As Trump declared last week, "Russia didn't adhere to the treaty. So, until they adhere, we will pull out.”

Trump’s unilateral decision has detonated an avalanche of condemnation. Four-star General Michael Hayden exploded on Twitter: “This is insane. I was director of the CIA.”

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson tells Inside Washington, “The Trump administration’s intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty is ill-conceived and counter-productive.” Richardson, who served under former President Bill Clinton who inherited the then-freshly minted agreement, warns, “Such a move is going to produce an unnecessary arms race with Russia and possibly the international community. This is a huge blow to efforts to curb nuclear proliferation.”

Allies also fear danger ahead. France and Germany, along with eight other Europeans countries, issued a joint statement expressing “regret” over Trump’s maneuver.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, meanwhile, slammed Trump’s gambit as “senseless” and “categorically unacceptable,” and accused the disruptor in chief of “sowing discord and uncertainty among its allies.”

Supporters, however, point out that the US and Russia employ sophisticated satellite technology to spy from outer space. Neither adversary needs nor relies on the surveillance methods covered by the treaty. Moreover, Russia’s flagrant and chronic violations have undermined the treaty’s original intent, to borrow the words of former President Ronald Reagan, to “trust, but verify.”

In a statement released on the eve of America’s formal declaration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo catalogued a litany of Russia’s perfidy. The chief diplomat went even further charging the former Cold War rival of deviously exploiting the treaty to target “critical infrastructure in the United States and Europe with precision-guided conventional munitions.” According to the defense hawk, Russia has “weaponized the treaty by making it into a tool of intimidation and threat.”

Ever the optimistic rogue, Trump is confident that his show of resolve will discipline the intransigent Russian bear. As he told the White House press pack last week, “What I think is going to happen is we’re going to pull out and they are going to come back and want to make a deal.” If not, he can always launch the first US nuclear test explosion in 28 years, a possibility that is, reportedly, “very much an ongoing conversation.”

"Abonnieren Sie die Weltwoche und bilden Sie sich weiter"

Alex Baur, Redaktor

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