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'Our Faith in Treaties'

June 06, 1986

Jeane Kirkpatrick's article (Editorial Pages, May 25), "Our Faith in Treaties Is Misplaced," displays a shocking ignorance of international law and the problems of dealing with the world community. The McNelly political cartoon from the Chicago Tribune accompanying the article echoes her negativism. It shows a tractor laden with a missile, leaving tread marks repeatedly saying "Blah, blah, blah, blah."

The salient point in Kirkpatrick's article is "the greatest difficulty is compliance. Compliance cannot be negotiated." Of course not, particularly when the leading democracy in the world, the United States does not comply .

We finally need to come to the realization that we need statesmen and stateswomen who are trained as career diplomats worthy of appointments to international posts. Likewise, we need teachers of international law who are adequately trained and can think "big." Kirkpatrick clearly does not fit these qualifications, nor has she ever.

The United States needs to begin taking a positive attitude toward the United Nations, if we are ever going to have meaningful relations among the nations of the world. We are the only country capable of doing this, but we lack the attitude, commitment, trained diplomats, and positive thinking required to be leaders. If the United States would finally begin taking a forward and dynamic lead in the United Nations, we could then hope to have an international organization that would become meaningful and significant.

Repeatedly citing and taking negative positions only continues to prove the shortcomings of the likes of Kirkpatrick and her colleagues.

Further, there is an enormous contradiction within the Reagan Administration. President Reagan has repeatedly called for international cooperation to control terrorism, Obviously, the specter of worldwide nuclear radiation can only be controlled by international rules, international adjudication, and an international enforcement body; hence, the need for a strong United Nations, an international court of justice, and international police force.

Our State Department has just released its Jan. 1, 1986 publication titled "A List of Treaties and Other International Agreements in Force as of Jan. 1, 1986." This volume contains more than 7,500 bilateral and multilateral treaties in force between the United States and virtually every other country of the world, including the Eastern Bloc countries. Incidentally, this body of international law grows at the rate of 5% a year.

For a presumed expert of international law like Kirkpatrick to demean international treaties, is to display an incredible lack of knowledge of the history and current status of such law. While many of these laws deal with mundane matters, this volume demonstrates that international law, in the main, works. A few familiar examples: the eradication of trafficking in women, children, slavery, the abolition of piracy, etc. Many years after these achievements, they are now taken for granted.

Kirkpatrick is really implying that treaties not work, so therefore let's go back to gunboat diplomacy. Are you for that?

SANDY ELSTER

Venice

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