In October the U.S. Senate voted down the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty—not a bad way to end a century marked by many futile attempts to ensure security by treaty. The vote may ultimately signal a more realistic U.S. approach to foreign threats. The Clinton administration is treating it as a politically motivated disaster, comparable, perhaps, to U.S. rejection of the League of Nations in 1920. The senators who voted against the treaty can be forgiven for fearing that the administration's real hope was to delay the vote until next year, when rejection would have been a useful stick with which to beat Republicans during the election. There is little reason to imagine that the vote would have been very different in a year. Moreover, contrary to the administration's claims, the issue had been argued at length since President Clinton signed the treaty in 1996. In 1999, he seems to have seen the treaty as a kind of capstone to his administration. Others might see it as the epitome of a series of self-delusions.
World Naval Developments: Debating the Test Ban Treaty
By Norman Friedman