The election-year heat was too much for Obama. He sent down word to the negotiators: “Postpone this!”
The First Amendment movement still has too much clout for Obama to take on. Fast and furious action on the arms control treaty turned into slow and tepid action.
The official statement of the negotiating team came out four square behind the treaty’s goals. “The United States supports the outcome today at the Arms Trade Treaty Conference.” That, plus $5, will buy Obama a cup of Starbucks coffee.
The word was this: “Delay!”
While the Conference ran out of time to reach consensus on a text, it will report its results and the draft text considered back to the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The United States supports a second round of negotiations, conducted on the basis of consensus, on the Treaty next year; we do not support a vote in the UNGA on the current text.
The UN ran out of time. It did not come up with a treaty whose language would let Obama head into November with a salable program to disarm the citizens of the United States.
The statement doffed the President’s cap to the gun control crowd, “The illicit trafficking of conventional arms is an important national security concern for the United States.” But that’s all they can expect in 2012: rhetoric.
While we sought to conclude this month’s negotiations with a Treaty, more time is a reasonable request for such a complex and critical issue. The current text reflects considerable positive progress, but it needs further review and refinement.
With that in mind, we will continue to work towards an Arms Trade Treaty that will contribute to international security, protect the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade, and meet the objectives and concerns that we have been articulating throughout the negotiation, including not infringing on the constitutional right of our citizens to bear arms. The United States took a principled stand throughout these negotiations that international trade in conventional arms is a legitimate enterprise that is and should remain regulated by the individual nations themselves, and we continue to believe that any Arms Trade Treaty should require states to develop their own national regulations and controls and strengthen the rule of law regarding arms sales.
We support an Arms Trade Treaty because we believe it will make a valuable contribution to global security by helping to stem illicit arms transfers, and we will continue to look for ways for the international community to work together to improve the international arms transfer regime so that weapons aren’t transferred to people who would abuse them.
In short, gun controllers, “better luck next year.” President Obama has decided to put this one on hold.