The Treaty of Paris (1783), the oldest treaty signed by the United States, ended the American Revolution and founded the United States – for that reason alone, it is one of the most important treaties in the history of the world. The Treaty of Paris did not just establish the United States; it did so on very favourable terms. Today, the global trading network is well established, but it has taken several decades and several trade agreements to reach the current level of complexity. While their critics are right to point out that free trade agreements have not benefited everyone in the same way, their international impact cannot be disputed. Here are five of the most important: the agreement between Iran and the P5-1 is now in its final phase before adopting legislative broadcasting powers and entering into force. As the U.S. Congress debates whether to give its approval or not, the rhetoric around the deal has reached new heights of vitriol, and conservative commentators are seizing on their history books – or at least historical metaphors. In its relatively short history, the United States has also made its share of the terrible diplomatic agreements. In order to break the hype around the Iran deal, foreign policy has turned to eight experts in international treaties and agreements to help us identify some of the worst treaties ever signed by the United States. (Although, please note that the nuclear agreement with Iran is a “political agreement,” not a “legally binding plan” or treaty, as Orde Kittrie, a law professor at Arizona State University and a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, quickly pointed out.) Kristol, Krauthammer and their colleagues would do well to review this list the next time they prepare to take the superlatives.
Treaty of Versailles, 1919 The history of the world has known terrible treaties and agreements. In 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which abandoned the possibility of war between the two countries, giving Hitler the chance to build his war machine and extend his influence to Central Europe. In retrospect, Rome ended the First Punic War in the 3rd century BC. C.E. with a contract that inflated Carthage a mammoth allowance, thus creating resentments that, 22 years later, flourished in the Second Punic War, where Hannibal crossed the Alps and almost conquered the Italian peninsula. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer called the agreement “the worst deal in U.S. diplomatic history.” On Twitter, the editor of the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, said: “This is really the worst deal in American history… Thomas Sowell, senior adviser to the hoover institution, wrote last month in the National Review that “the United States now seems on the verge of breaking the record for the worst political error of all time. In the same publication, Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, wrote that the nuclear deal was “probably the worst international agreement not only in American history or modern history, but never.” Oh, really? The Kanagawa Convention (1854) of the trade agreement may be important not only because of its direct economic impact, but also because of its longer-term effects.