There are times when you realize there’s a special kind of stupid in the world. Over the last seven years we’ve certainly been exposed it. Then again, what we’ve witnessed isn’t always unintentional. Just yesterday we shared the issue of the Obama administration asking
begging Russia not to bomb areas in Syria where our own Special Operations forces are operating and training Syrian rebels. Now folks, it takes a really special kind of stupid to drop our Warriors into a combat zone, tell everyone they’re not there to engage in combat, and place them in an environment where a multitude of bad actors want to kill them. Well, that’s dumb, but unbelievably, just one day later, we find something even dumber.
As reported by the Associated Press, “Russia will ask permission…to start flying surveillance planes equipped with high-powered digital cameras amid warnings from U.S. intelligence and military officials that such overflights help Moscow collect intelligence on the United States.
Russia and the United States are signatories to the Open Skies Treaty, which allows unarmed observation flights over the entire territory of all 34 member nations to foster transparency about military activity and help monitor arms control and other agreements. Senior intelligence and military officials, however, worry that Russia is taking advantage of technological advances to violate the spirit of the treaty.
Russia will formally ask the Open Skies Consultative Commission, based in Vienna, to be allowed to fly an aircraft equipped with high-tech sensors over the United States, according to a senior congressional staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Treaty on Open Skies went into force on January 1, 2002, and currently has 34 states as parties. As background, it establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. The treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them. Open Skies is one of the most wide-ranging international efforts to date promoting openness and transparency of military forces and activities. Negotiated by the then-members of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the agreement was signed in Helsinki, Finland, on March 24, 1992.
You see, the problem is that folks enter into such agreements as Open Skies and never ask the critical question, what could go wrong — not now, but 10, 25 or 50 years from now. And here we are almost at that 25-year point and are discussing just that.
The treaty is of unlimited duration and open to accession by other nation-states. But here’s the real kicker: “The Open Skies regime covers the territory over which the State Party exercises sovereignty, including land, islands, and internal and territorial waters. The treaty specifies that the entire territory of a State Party is open to observation. Observation flights may only be restricted for reasons of flight safety; not for reasons of national security.”
In essence, during the administration of one George H. W. Bush, we became signatory to an agreement that violates our sovereignty, and we cannot use reasons of national security for denial of overflight. The reference to our internal and territorial waters is also cause for concern as it brings up the issue of the LOST (Law of the Sea Treaty). This United Nations proposal “calls for technology transfers and wealth transfers from developed to undeveloped nations. It also requires parties to the treaty to adopt regulations and laws to control pollution of the marine environment. Such provisions were among the reasons President Ronald Reagan rejected the treaty in 1982.”
Amazingly enough ten years later President George H.W. Bush signed us up for something very disconcerting. We must vehemently defend our sovereignty as an American Republic.
You see, these are the types of current issues presidential candidates should be asked in debates. What is their concept of American sovereignty?
Here now is the current dilemma facing the Obama administration. “The request will put the Obama administration in the position of having to decide whether to let Russia use the high-powered equipment on its surveillance planes at a time when Moscow, according to the latest State Department compliance report, is failing to meet all its obligations under the treaty. And it comes at one of the most tension-filled times in U.S.-Russia relations since the end of the Cold War, with the two countries at odds over Russian activity in Ukraine and Syria.
“The treaty has become a critical component of Russia’s intelligence collection capability directed at the United States,” Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, wrote in a letter earlier this year to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of a House subcommittee on strategic forces.”
There are two lessons to be learned from the Open Skies Treaty agreement. First of all, do not sign up for an international agreement without strategically war-gaming out the negative possibilities decades ahead. Secondly, never surrender the territorial integrity and sovereignty of your nation.
President Obama’s answer to this request should be very simple, kinda like the one Army BG MacAuliffe, CG of the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne, issued when asked to surrender — “Nuts.” Or as they say in Russia, nyet.