Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The UN Gun Treaty

Time for a shocker, I'm going to give Obama credit for not immediately signing the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. Amy Goodman over at The Guardian calls the president's waffling and asking for more time to review the treaty cowardice and she may well  be right but for reasons other than what she believes. President Obama has been very clear in the past that he believes in disarmament and seeking "soft power" solutions such as diplomacy but he waited out the clock on this one to keep the NRA off his back due to how close this election is, with many polls having Romney tied with the president or even ahead in key battle ground states. Bad politics to annoy such a large and well funded special interest group in those conditions.

My main problem with Goodman's assertions are however on how benign the Arms Trade Treaty is, with it's vague language about weapons that facilitate "the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes" the treaty leaves a lot up for interpretation. After all, during the Rwandan genocides of 1994 the favorite weapon of Akazu, a group of majority Hutu tribals was the machete when it came to killing Tutsi. Machetes aren't even technically a weapon, but a tool for clearing brush, no matter what slasher movies want you to believe. Some of the most popular hunting rifles in the world are based on the design of the kalashnikov or "AK" rifle design, a huge chunk of the remainder are based on the Garand or the AR-15. Are machetes and hunting rifles covered by that proviso concerning facilitating genocide and war crimes?

The problem with these sorts of agreements is not their intention, but in their implementation, governments should never be granted new power in vast swaths, but incrementally and over a period of time that allows for testing so excesses can be pruned back. Then again, Miss Goodman is a brit and a journalist, probably can't tell the difference between an FN FAL and an M-16.

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