The Treaties of Yore


US Capitol Building

US Capitol Building

This is far from his main point, but David Shorr’s observation that “it’s not clear that our political system is still able to ratify significant treaties” seems important to me. I mean, if you think it’s hard to get 60 Senators to agree to something, just try finding 67 willing to vote in favor of a major treaty.

In part it’s a shame that more people can’t have a more reasonable view on things like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. But in part, this is a really weird quirk of our constitution grounded in an era, over 2000 years in the past, when both the U.S. political system and the role of treaties in the international arena was totally different. Consequently you get absurd scenarios in which the US is the only country that won’t join the UN Convention on the rights of the child.