The United States expects Syria's chemical weapons to be destroyed "even faster than the very ambitious goal" of June 30 set in the U.S.-Russian agreement reached in Geneva in September, according to top U.S. negotiator Thomas Countryman.
By losing our influence with Cairo, the United States is on a path to becoming marginalized in this critical part of the world. Leaders in other American allies, including Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are frustrated by Washington's unwillingness to assist itself in the Middle East.
Last week's carnage in Nairobi underscores the importance of curtailing the flow of guns into the hands of governments like that of Syria or groups like the Somali-based Al-Shabab who use conventional arms to commit atrocities.
After years of efforts to curb the $70 billion conventional arms trade, a global treaty was blocked by Iran, North Korea and Syria. But the measure is expected to go to the U.N. General Assembly where it may be resurrected.
The leadership of the National Rifle Association and their allies are mounting a campaign of lies and fear to build American opposition to the treaty, inaccurately arguing that the treaty would infringe on Americans right to bear arms.
An Arms Trade Treaty won't solve all the complex issues that lead to criminality, conflict and terrorism, but by galvanising states around the world to clamp down on illicit sales of weapons, it is a vital part of the solution.
After years of campaigning to bring the arms trade under control, we sometimes forget who we are fighting for. The negotiations get technical and it all gets a bit tedious. But we must never forget why we're doing this.
Don't be deceived by the gun-grab rhetoric. An international commitment to strong standards on arms transfers will help to ensure that the global arms trade meets the legitimate security needs of all countries.
While the administration is pledging to try to curb the wholesale spread of ever more powerful weaponry at home, what is it doing about the same issue abroad where it has so much more power to pursue the agenda it prefers?