The defense trade cooperation treaties signed by the United States with the United Kingdom and Australia may have just become victims of election year politics. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced today, according to this report in Defense News, that further consideration of Senate ratification of these treaties would be deferred until next year, i.e., until after the November elections. This could entail even further delays if the Democrats take the White House and decide to rewrite the treaty in order to put their own stamp on, and take credit for, the treaty.
The current delay seems to be prompted by the Senate panel’s concern that the State Department would need to amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations in order for the treaty to be enforceable. Although the Foreign Relations Committee had repeatedly asked for such amendments, they had not been forthcoming, and apparently the committee became frustrated with the last response it received from State on September 15 and which the committee deemed incomplete.
According to the Defense News article, the members of the Foreign Relations Committee aren’t the only ones expressing frustration — U.K. officials are reportedly peeved as well:
In Britain, there has been mounting frustration that the measures have stalled, and the delay infuriated U.K. officials who were counting on securing approval before the end of the Bush administration.
“All the U.K. government wants is clarity of message from the U.S. government on what’s happened and whether they are motivated to get this ratified as soon as their processes are completed,” said one British official. “Right now, we’re getting all sorts of messages from each of the three strands of government.”
The Australians, being somewhat more patient than their colonial forebears, are reported to have put another prawn on the barbie, cracked open another tinny of Foster’s, and gone back to watching a game of footy on the telly. (In fact, I imagine that the Australians aren’t pleased with this development either, but I couldn’t find any reported reaction from the Australian government.)