Relaxing the Strong Arm

For the moment, Washington is quiet; the earsplitting din of the last few months has died down. That noise was the Bush Administration clear-cutting decades of diplomatic forestation: the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the protocol on enforcing the Biological Weapons Convention — all felled. The U.N.'s proposed pact on small-arms trade got a preemptive chop, and the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty teeters on a splinter, waiting for a final, fatal gust.

The silence, though, may be temporary, and the chainsaws of this massacre could fire up again soon. The first treaty the Administration renounced,...

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