Trump’s arms treaty withdrawal divides US pundits, even though it doesn’t change anything
Continuing his tradition of shredding treaties and agreements signed by the Obama administration, President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the UN Arms Trade Treaty. His supporters and opponents immediately weighed in.
Democrats savaged Trump for pandering to the gun lobby and making “a more dangerous world,” in the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
.@realDonaldTrump pulling the U.S. out of yet another arms control treaty undermines our national security and makes for a more dangerous world. Leaving the Arms Trade Treaty that limits global trafficking in lethal weapons to get applause from the @NRA is reckless and shameful.— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) April 26, 2019
As the treaty sought to regulate international transfers of arms from tanks and warships to rifles and rockets, Democrats painted Trump’s withdrawal as a move that would make it easier for “human rights abusers and terrorists” to acquire weapons.
Donald Trump announces he’s sending a request to the US Senate to stop the treaty ratification process for the UN Arms Trade Treaty during his speech at @NRA annual meeting. It's a treaty to stop human rights abusers from obtaining firearms. #NRAAM2019#NRAAM— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) April 26, 2019
By retreating from this treaty, Trump signaled to the world that the US wants no role in working with other countries to help keep arms away from human traffickers & terrorists. This isn’t just a gift to the gun companies—it’s a pathetic display of weakness in service of the NRA.— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) April 26, 2019
The treaty, however, has not yet been ratified, and the United States’ arms industry currently accounts for 36 percent of the world’s arms exports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). These exports netted American manufacturers a cool $192.3 billion last year, according to State Department figures.
Many of these weapons already end up in the hands of oppressive regimes and terrorist organizations, from the guided bombs dropped by Saudi Arabia on schoolchildren in Yemen, to the anti-tank TOW missiles that ended up in the hands of Al-Nusra jihadists in Syria.
Given that the ATT called for heightened scrutiny of arms sales in cases where they “could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law, acts of terrorism, or transnational organized crime,” ratifying it would likely have put the spotlight on the end users of American weapons worldwide.Also on rt.com Trump announces US withdrawing from UN Arms Trade Treaty
“The fact that Trump is canceling the signature is grandstanding,” investigative reporter Dave Lindorff told RT. “The United States doesn’t obey the world court, it doesn’t feel obliged to follow the Geneva Conventions. So tearing up this presidential signature… really doesn’t have any significant change to the US position.”
Ratifying the treaty would also allow rival arms exporters like Russia and China – neither of whom have signed the agreement – to cut into the US’ market, a point explicitly laid out in the White House’s argument against the treaty. Russia and China are the world’s second- and third-largest arms exporters behind the US.
Still, geopolitics took a back seat to partisan bickering, as is tradition in Washington. Opponents described the withdrawal as “blatant pandering” to the gun lobby, in the words of House Committee on Foreign Affairs chair Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York), who announced a hearing on the withdrawal on Friday.
Today #POTUS withdrew the U.S. from a global treaty to control the trafficking of weapons just to appease the #NRA.It's abhorrent to use international diplomacy for blatant political pandering. It’s even more appalling when that decision endangers lives. https://t.co/Pc2FASz39U— Eliot Engel (@RepEliotEngel) April 26, 2019
"Today, @realDonaldTrump chose to pander to the corporate gun lobby and shirk his responsibility to his country and the world.We should be doing everything in our power to stop gun violence —not export it." — Brady's @KrisB_Brown#NRAAMhttps://t.co/oVtoWZTpWn— Brady (@bradybuzz) April 26, 2019
In signing the withdrawal at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention, Trump described the treaty as a threat to Americans’ Second Amendment freedoms. Although the Arms Control Association states the treaty “does not impact a state’s domestic gun control laws,” it is open to amendment in the future.
His supporters cheered the withdrawal, blasting the treaty’s supposed threat to their right “to keep and bear arms.”
Why participate in a treaty that neglects the rights of Americans, threatens our defense industrial base, and treats our arms transfers as equal w/ those of totalitarian regimes? @realDonaldTrump is right to withdraw from the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty!https://t.co/iyCWR6kuwe— Rep. Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyPA) April 26, 2019
President Trump Is Defending Our Sovereignty and Constitutional Rights From the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.— Kambree Kawahine Koa (@KamVTV) April 26, 2019
Nice to see that President Donald Trump removed the United States from the Unconstitutional and unratified Arms Trade Treaty at the NRA Convention.— Carmine Sabia (@CarmineSabia) April 26, 2019
With Washington consumed by partisan protestations, one foreign observer will be thrilled with Trump’s decision. Saudi Arabia is the main destination for American arms sales, and received some $3.5 billion worth of weaponry from the United States last year. All in all, the US has been the leading arms supplier to 20 of the world’s 40 largest arms importers, funneling its weapons to almost 100 nations.
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