“In a world of states that do not respect human rights, a universal treaty based on the vague and wide-ranging human rights criteria that the ATT will seek to apply to arms transfers will always apply with more force to the law-abiding than it does to the lawless,” Brumond wrote. “It will always be used by the naïve and the evil to apply the powerful weapon of shame against those with a deeply ingrained respect for the rule of law.”
Brumond further warned based on recent history: “The ATT will pretend to regulate the international arms trade, but it will have more in common with the U.N.’s aspirational treaties on human rights, which repressive regimes use to deflect attention from their misdeeds by pointing to supposed U.S. and Israeli violations.”
Under ATT, Brumond suggested, Iran could and likely would continue to transfer arms to its terror clients, while naturally claiming to comply. But should the U.S. or other powers attempt to arm rebels against Iran’s tyrannical theocracy, Iran could legally protest this violation of ATT.
Some U.S. senators may attempt to prevent legislation prohibiting ATT from affecting U.S. domestic Second Amendment gun rights. But Brumond suggested the larger threat from ATT will be the likely vagueness of its language and the wide ranging implied powers of its implementation that would embolden future international bureaucrats. “The best defense against encroachments on U.S. sovereignty—including the ability to conduct foreign policy—rests with oversight by elected officials and the vigilance of American citizens,” Brumond wrote.
But protecting U.S. sovereignty from vague, aspirational international treaties that undermine the very goals they purportedly seek is not a priority for left leaning U.S. religious groups, for whom sentiment often outranks reality. There is little new here.
In the 1920’s, groups like the old Federal Council of Churches eagerly embraced international treaties, often negotiated through the League of Nations, that restricted arms and even purportedly abolished war in the Kellogg-Briand Pact. “The principle of peace thus becomes lodged in the minds of men as the ultimate goal of humanity” celebrated endorsing Methodist bishops in 1930 about that pact. Other Methodist bishops in 1932 declared with equal certitude about global treaties: “We have gone beyond the day when war-mindedness is of any value in our program of progress.” Of course, within a few years, these aspirational treaties, and the League of Nations, became irrelevant as ascendant fascist powers brutally sought power rather than international approval.
Modern pacifist church groups that share the 1920’s era fantasies about the world joined the National Association of Evangelicals in urging the President to seek and implement ATT. So of course did leftist and functionally pacifist groups like Catholic Maryknoll order and the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. With them are secular groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Center for American Progress. Evangelicals, who realistically profess to believe in the power of human sin, should be shrewder, and more politically modest, than their fellow ATT letter signers.
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