The Russian roulette scene from 1978's "The Deer Hunter" was meant as a metaphor for the war in Vietnam. Director Michael Cimino thought that, by sending troops to Southeast Asia, the U.S. had engaged in a "game" just as senseless and fatal.
Regardless of what one thinks of the Vietnam War and how it was fought, no one would suggest that a Russian roulette foreign policy makes sense. Yet, that seems to be what's in store for us over the coming months.
The "bullets" in this round are a variety of bad treaties that have languished in the Senate, unapproved, for years -- and with good reason. President Obama seems intent on pushing at least one them through before the election -- another "trophy" for his foreign policy wall.
Pushing through treaties that farm out American sovereignty and security to international organizations and other nations goes to the core of the Obama Doctrine.
The president believes that the U.S. should play a more restrained and humble role in the world. To achieve that goal, he must build up a superstructure of international governance and agreements that substitute for America defending its own interests.
Obama, of course, realizes that there is no free lunch, but he is willing to sacrifice a great deal of American sovereignty to ink an agreement. Waiting for the decision on which bad treaty he'll push has become Washington's version of Russian roulette.
The shot should come soon. Treaties are notoriously difficult to get through the Senate in an election year. Moreover, polls indicate Obama's party may not control the Senate after next year's election. Therefore, this year could be his last best chance to ram a treaty through.
State Department officials indicate the heavy favorite is the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Signing onto the ban would cement Obama's reputation as the "road to zero" president -- the man who did everything possible to rid the world of America's nuclear weapons.
At a recent meeting of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, Rose Gottemoeller, assistant secretary for arms control, verification and compliance, promised, "We will work hard to make it happen."
Unfortunately, few treaties are worse for American national security. That's why Senate rejected it in 1999, and why no president has since brought it up again.
For starters, the treaty isn't even precise on what it bans. The U.S. interpreted the treaty to mean "zero yield," in other words no testing that might release any nuclear energy at all.
Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories labeled the term as "not a technically viable statement" -- i.e., the U.S. interpretation defies physics, as any testing with fissile material will release nuclear energy.
Perhaps that's why other states (Russia and China, to name two) don't agree that the treaty means "zero yield." It's not smart to sign a treaty when the parties disagree on what it means.
Furthermore, the U.S. may well need to test new nuclear weapons in the future. Obama seems perfectly happy to let our nuclear arsenal atrophy and become obsolete, but future presidents may see it differently.
Finally, CTBT has proved an abject failure at stopping nuclear proliferation. In fact, nations like North Korea and Iran see Obama's obsession with getting rid of America's nuclear weapons as a sign of weakness and an opportunity to exploit.
The more the U.S. disarms, the more valuable other nations' weapons become. They're content to watch Obama play Russian roulette as they push full steam ahead with their nuclear programs.
Examiner Columnist James Jay Carafano is a senior research fellow for national security at the Heritage Foundation.