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Breaking treaties

Updated December 07, 2018

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COMING from a representative of a country that has all too often shocked the world by its violations of international agreements, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement in Brussels on Tuesday serves only to draw attention to America’s own questionable record in upholding treaty obligations.

Speaking at a German Marshall Fund event, Mr Pompeo accused Russia, China and Iran of breaking accords, and said that America wasn’t going to accept such “transgressions”.

He alleged that Russia had violated arms treaties and was undermining the sovereignty of its neighbours — the latter assertion not without substance — while China was exploiting the “loopholes” in world trade and had “stolen” intellectual property.

Take a look: Trump puts America first, but more and more alone

Mr Pompeo also had a go at Iran and accused it of flouting Security Council resolutions, a claim the others in P-5, together with Germany and the International Atomic Energy Agency, repudiate. Mercifully, Mr Pompeo’s bill of indictment didn’t include the Authority that represents the Palestinian people, who are now undergoing a fresh wave of persecution at the hands of Israel.

The secretary of state forgot how much his own country will suffer if the world were to follow his nostrum that treaty violators must be “confronted” and the treaties “fixed or discarded”.

The list of international agreements that the Trump administration has walked away from is extensive. They include, besides the Iranian nuclear deal, such multilateral fora as the Paris climate accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the UN Human Rights Accord, in addition to President Donald Trump’s dubious attitude towards the North America Free Trade Area, Nato and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

However, the worst example of the Trump administration’s show of contempt for its solemn commitments is its attitude towards the Palestinian people. Without a prick of conscience, it has upheld Israel’s renunciation of the two-state solution to which several American governments have been party since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords at the White House itself.

Disregarding all norms of responsible behaviour expected of the superpower, President Trump decided last December to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and in September ‘shuttered’ the offices of the Palestinian Authority in Washington D.C.

Mr Pompeo perhaps had a point when he said some treaties had become dated, but what is needed to make them relevant to today’s world is a collective approach rather than a blatant repudiation of agreements signed by previous American administrations.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2018

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