January 01, 2002

Looking Back

The US-Russian (nee Soviet) Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty has been cast onto the dustheap of history with scarcely a whimper from the Russian side. As with many things, what seemed unlikely six months ago has all of a sudden become unavoidable.

The ABM Treaty was a relic of the 1970s, President Bush announced when he notified Russia of the US’ intention to withdraw from this, one of the first US-Soviet arms treaties. It’s a new era, he said, the Cold War is over.

OK, fine. But while we’re cleaning out the closets, let’s finish the job. Another relic of the ABM era deserves to share that treaty’s fate. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment of 1974 ties US trade relations with foreign countries to a country’s emigration policies. It means that today Russia must annually submit to a humiliating review in order to receive “normal trade relations” designation through a US presidential waiver.

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