Open Skies

A Farewell to the Open Skies Treaty, and an Era of Imaginative Thinking

June 16, 2020
Bonnie Jenkins
This article was originally published by the Brookings Institution.

The author writes that "[l]ast month, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the 1992 Open Skies Treaty (OST). The OST allows for members … to conduct unarmed surveillance flights in each others’ air space. The treaty was designed to enhance mutual understanding, build confidence and promote openness and transparency of military forces and activities. ... Withdrawing from treaties, like the Trump administration is doing with the OST, should only be done after careful discussions and consideration across the U.S. government, with our allies and with relevant voices outside government. Unfortunately, U.S. treaty withdrawals under Trump are piling up: The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to constrain Iran’s nuclear program, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia and now the OST. The 2011 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, which expires next year, is in question. ... We are not working with our allies in a way that would help strengthen consensus on issues of both arms control and deterrence. U.S. alliances … are severely strained. The Trump administration has spent the last few years destroying agreements and relationships without doing any re-building. Washington appears to have little vision or imagination for what could replace what we have damaged, ensuring instead that we remain unprepared for future global challenges when we cannot go it alone. We need ways to build trust and avenues to work together, using the tools at our disposal. We need, again, the type of imagination we had when we negotiated the OST.”

Read the full article at the Brookings Institution.


Bonnie Jenkins

Bonnie Jenkins is the founder and president of the Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS) nonprofit organization. She is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and president of Global Connections Empowering Global Change LLC.

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