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Open Skies

Russian Air Force Tu-214ON RA-64519 UUBW 2011-8-12.png

Tupolev Tu-214ON of the Russian Air Force. By Oleg Belyakov – CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Reports indicate that the Trump administration is committed to bailing on the Open Skies Treaty, which is essentially a confidence building measure that lets the participants monitor the military capabilities of their neighbors. The reasons for the attack are familiar; an irrational hostility to multilateral treaties that restrict the US in anyway, a disregard for expertise, and a degree of capture from tech interests in the defense industrial base. In December, Mary Chesnut and I wrote in the National Interest about the need to save the treaty:

Recently, however, the treaty has come under attack from opponents within the United States. Other parts of the security architecture have already fallen away, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, the CFE, and most recently the INF. Every arms control agreement crystallizes a particular strategic and technological reality, and not every agreement can survive geopolitical and technological changes. The Open Skies Treaty, however, represents a low-cost answer to an age-old problem of international security, providing a mechanism for monitoring deployments of military forces and providing assurance to vulnerable nations. Discarding the treaty would represent a surrender to anti-arms control fetishism, rather than to a careful assessment of the security interests of the United States.

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