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Screw Treaties! or: Conservatives Wants America to Withdraw from the World


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five comments


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Just want to say, I think Michael nailed this post.

It’s post like these when I wish out traffic were better. When discussing future wars, everyone needs to consider Michael C’s points.


I wasn’t aware that this was a standard phrase.
I was rather aware of the “isolationism” taboo. Bacevich laid out repeatedly how the United States were never isolationist and the whole thing about ‘bad things happened in the world when we were isolationist’ is merely a myth, a false memory.

I must also say that I like it more when Republicans/conservatives refuse to ratify than when any kind of American politician ignores treaty obligations from signed & ratified treaties. I’ve written several blog posts on how commonplace that is in ‘security policy’.
The conservatives are the rather more honest people in this: The democrats ratify and the Neocons used ‘security policy’ treaties only to bring forward claims against others, without the intent to oblige to some of their equally legitimate claims.

And then there are the treaties which are getting warped in their meaning beyond recognition, such as the purely-defensive-alliance-turned-military-adventure-club known as “NATO” and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which is being used to hammer Iran for non-violations while the USA itself is in near-constant violation regarding the disarmament provision and probably violated it most directly in regard to Israel’s nukes.

“The irony is that refusing to ratify global treaties makes the world more dangerous and free trade less likely.”

We have free trade save for a few embargoes. The remaining trade obstacles are quite negligible. Further trade liberalization may hurt more than help, and according to leading trade economics researchers it would only give a very small one-time boost (one or two per cent GDP). The low hanging fruits and generally all fruits but those on top were picked already in trade liberalisation.

@Eric: What’s your traffic? (You may reply in private, of course.)


You don’t need treaties to stay involved with the world. China is doing quite nicely with a series of nation to nation discussions. Brazil, India and South Africa are developing closer ties without signing any formal agreements. Nations continue to negotiate their own free trade agreements. My point is that politicians (your post is about Americans, so let’s say American politicians in specific, but western politicians in general) don’t need to see the options exclusively as isolationism or multinational treaties. Simply maintaining connections and occasionally throwing in a few extra visits/meetings with other nations can pay dividends.


@ F, SO – I see your points, but I would lean heavily on the side of treaties. Treaties represent global norms. They establish the rules that world should run on. The universally agreed principles that every nation should follow. (Regardless of their power.)

Perhaps the best example I can think of is the most petty: a This American Life episode about the Bush administration challenging long accepted definitions of the border between America and Canada. They, incredibly short-sightedly, encouraged Americans to fight to expand their borders. They spit in the face of long established definitions of the border because they could.

This all applies to America because America still is the most powerful country in the world. And with that power comes the tendency to view itself as above the rules. But no country is above those rules. Treaties represent those rules.

Anyway, it’s not just about treaties. Michael C’s sixth paragraph outlines a whole host of other options conservatives hates, in addition to treaties.


In terms of strengthening economic relationships, here’s an economist article on Congress and the IMF.

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-an..