Is the Land Mine Treaty Just “International Political Correctness”?
I have always thought the Ottawa Convention banning landmines was a nice idea, but somewhat unrealistic. Case in point: the U.S. and South Korea rely on landmines to prevent a North Korean attack on South Korea. It is hard to imagine a cheaper more effective deterrent than landmines, as David Rivkin and Lee Casey argue in today’s WSJ. As a policy matter, this claim is up for debate. Indeed, 68 U.S. senators have already indicated support for the treaty.
Perhaps more interestingly, Rivkin and Casey classify the Landmine Treaty as a new kind of “international political correctness” aimed at undermining the traditional laws of war.
Traditionally, the laws of war accommodated military imperatives, imposing only the most basic of restraints. This was in recognition that a more restrictive code would not likely check nations engaged in a life or death struggle. As the realities of war have receded for most developed countries, progressives have worked to transform the norms applicable to armed conflict into something akin to a code governing domestic police functions.
The Ottawa Convention is part and parcel of this process, and the only real justification for U.S. accession to this treaty is a bow to international political correctness. That is what the Senate letter meant by urging the president to reconsider the U.S. position as consistent with his “commitment to reaffirm U.S. leadership in solving global problems.”
That type of symbolism is just not a good enough reason to give up a weapon that can protect American forces and assist them in accomplishing their missions.
This is an important theme that scholars are just beginning to pick up on (with the exception of Alan Dershowitz, of course). Are the laws of war being changed somehow into something really different (and in service of progressive goals)? Is that a bad thing?