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Hometown: Chicago
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Current location: Chicago
Member since: Fri May 4, 2007, 12:12 PM
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Abandoning Open Skies: Trump Would Be Squandering More of Our Security Inheritance

File this under- Donald Trump, Russian Asset

Back in early 1989, then-President George Herbert Walker Bush put a steely eyed challenge to the Soviets still running Russia: let America and its allies take a look around at Russia and its Eastern bloc partners with periodic unarmed surveillance flights, and we’ll let you do the same. The imagery collected would build confidence by letting each side distinguish trucks from tanks. Each side could effectively take a plane apart to make sure everything was on the level. The inspected party could even have their own military personnel onboard the flights.


Last December, 25 Americans, along with counterparts from Canada, Germany, France, Romania, and the United Kingdom, joined Ukrainians on an urgent mission to help them defend their nation.
A few days earlier, several Ukrainian ships and their crews had been seized on the Sea of Azov. In response, Ukraine had asked America and its allies to conduct an extraordinary joint overflight to produce certified photographic evidence of what was really happening. In an era of deep fakes and precision-guided disinformation, ready access to unquestioned facts gives America and its friends an instant strategic advantage.

But more than that, America’s friend was calling for help, and only America could be counted on to lead the response. Pulling together such an extraordinary, short-notice, multi-nation surveillance mission was only possible because the United States and its allies already had a long-standing agreement that almost no one has heard of: the Open Skies Treaty, which established a regime of observation overflights over the territories of all member states. The United States, Russia, and 32 other Euro-Atlantic countries—most of whom are U.S. allies—have been quietly using this treaty for years to help make sure that the very real tensions that trouble the region at least stay focused on facts, not fakes.

Rumors are now swirling about President Donald Trump deciding to withdraw the United States from this treaty. Congress, our allies, and the public have been kept in the dark. To make matters worse, there is no evidence that the Trump administration has considered how walking out on the treaty would impact our national interests. There has not been any real discussion about how abandoning our commitment to Open Skies would undercut Ukraine, or more broadly affect the security of our European allies, who rely on the tools of the treaty to gain independent insight into the military might of their neighbors, including Russia.
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