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Is dumb politically hereditary?

February 22, 2016

Almost lost amidst the furor over the presidential contest and Ted Cruz firing his communications director was an Associated Press news article detailing Russia’s desire to overfly the U.S. with modern digital surveillance equipment.

If your first thought when you read that was “Who would be dumb enough to allow THAT?” you aren’t alone.

Uh…that would be us. Russia has had permission to conduct aerial surveillance over the United States since March, 1992, courtesy of something called the Open Skies Treaty.

It isn’t just the U.S. of course. The signatories to this treaty are:

“The United States of America, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Republic of Bulgaria, the Republic of Belarus, Canada, the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, the Kingdom of Denmark, the French Republic, Georgia, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Hellenic Republic, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Iceland, the Italian Republic, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Republic of Poland, the Portuguese Republic, Romania, the Russian Federation, the Kingdom of Spain, the Republic of Turkey, and Ukraine (the States Parties).”  Letter of Submittal,  Paragraph 17, August 12, 1992.

Of course the logic behind this was that if everyone can spy on everyone else, it keeps all of them honest.

In practice of course, it didn’t pan out that way.  For instance, Russia has certain areas that are off-limits, kind of like the Iran nuclear treaty that exempts their military installations from direct inspection by the IAEA.

Does this even still matter in the era of satellites that can provide amazing close-up detail from tens of thousands of miles away?

Probably not.

However, in today’s tenuous world political situation and campaign-fueled national security debates, just the idea of Russia having the right to fly over the U.S. with any kind of a non-commercial or military plane is kind of unsettling.

What is interesting is that the Open Skies Treaty was being negotiated during the 1992 election season, the year that saw Ross Perot split the vote and put Bill Clinton into office.

Here it  is 24 years later,  and the front running GOP candidate is reminding us that we’ve made some really dumb deals throughout history and oh yes… we have another Clinton on the stump.

Who says history doesn’t repeat itself?

From → op-ed

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