While the world was focused on President Donald Trump’s overnight blindsiding of the Pentagon and U.S. allies, announcing he is pulling troops out of Syria so Turkey can crush Kurdish forces that have helped the U.S. fight ISIS, the Trump administration was quietly laying plans to pull out of a key and critical compact, the Open Skies Treaty.
First proposed in 1992, since 2002 the Open Skies Treaty has allowed the now 34 signatory nations to fly over each others’ territory for the purpose of monitoring and recording military deployments and movements.
In the real world, the Open Skies Treaty allows the most powerful nations on earth to monitor Russian military movements.
And President Trump wants to end that.
U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel on Monday sent Trump’s Acting National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, a letter demanding he “ensure that the United States does not unwisely and rashly withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty.”
Chairman Engel also called the possible withdrawal “reckless,” and noted “American withdrawal would only benefit Russia.”
Chairman Engel’s letter was followed by this tweet:
Observation flights under the Treaty have generated additional info regarding Russian military action in Ukraine & provided a check on further Russian aggression. @NATO allies have stressed the importance of the Open Skies Treaty for their efforts to monitor Russia’s military.
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) October 7, 2019
Experts are perplexed and outraged.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia.
We are now pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty? Really? Please tell me this can’t be true. https://t.co/2KfZoYA8ep
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) October 7, 2019
Investigative journalist and expert on Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe says “Trump is acting like a kamikaze pilot destroying America in any way he can and in a hurry”:
Trump is considering pulling out of the open skies treaty. Definitely a birthday weekend for Putin
At this point trump is acting like a kamikaze pilot destroying America in any way he can and in a hurry. At home and especially abroad. We will pay for a long time from his damage pic.twitter.com/92ts8tzDbm
— Olga Lautman (@olgaNYC1211) October 7, 2019
Dr. Michael Carpenter’s résumé says all you need to know:
“Dr. Carpenter previously served in the Pentagon as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense with responsibility for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia, the Balkans, and Conventional Arms Control. He also served in the White House as a foreign policy advisor to Vice President Joe Biden as well as on the National Security Council as Director for Russia. Previously, Dr. Carpenter was a career Foreign Service Officer with the State Department.”
He says pulling out is a bad idea:
I’ve been very critical of Russia’s cheating on the Open Skies Treaty and I do believe we need a serious discussion of its pros and cons. But a precipitous unilateral withdrawal is the wrong way to address those concerns and will damage the unity of the NATO alliance.
— Michael Carpenter (@mikercarpenter) October 7, 2019
Russian Media Analyst:
The Trump administration is pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, which allows the United States and our allies and partners in Europe to monitor Russian military deployments. Withdrawal risks dividing the transatlantic alliance. #Russia https://t.co/Zqst365U4J pic.twitter.com/UmbPR7cuRO
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) October 7, 2019