No national interest of ours could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the earth’s surface over to the Third World . . . . The underdeveloped nations who now control the General Assembly are looking for a free ride at our expense—again.
President Reagan, 1978
President Reagan sent his personal emissary, Donald Rumsfeld, to visit our allies around the world to explain his opposition to the Treaty and ask them to support him—which they did. Awaiting a vote now in the U.S. Senate, a “relic of the 1970s,” is the Law of the Sea Treaty, known by the acronym LOST.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has done a cursory review, holding two hearings. Seven witnesses testified in support, two against (Frank Gaffney of Center for Security Policy and Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute).
Not attending either hearing were two Republican senators who are up for reelection in 2008, Norm Coleman of Minnesota and John Sununu of New Hampshire . The Committee approved the Treaty by 17-4 on October 31. A two-thirds vote of the full Senate is needed for approval.
The Senate has twice turned it down, in 1994 when after cosmetic changes in an annex, President Clinton proposed it, and again in 2004. The White House, previously opposed, argues that it would help preserve navigational freedom for the Navy. Among the presidential candidates, the Republicans vehemently oppose it except Senator McCain. It is assumed to have the approval of liberal Democrats. Not much is reported of their views on it, though it constitutes a significant change which the U.S. should understand.
The Treaty, intended to create rules governing deep sea mining, ocean navigation, and conservation, has moved toward world government at the expense of sovereign nation states, especially the U.S. In its 320 articles and nine amendments, it creates executive, legislative, and judicial mechanisms for controlling the resources of the world’s oceans—and land too, since it prohibits ocean-polluting coming from land-based technology.
Today 155 nations have ratified the Treaty, officially named “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS].” Supporters are the gas and oil industries, the American Bar Association, the U.S. military, and those of globalist mind-set who oppose America ’s acting in its own national interest. George Shultz and James Baker have written in support. The White House was opposed but in May changed its position when told that President Reagan’s objections had been remedied in 1994 renegotiations (disputed by Ed Meese and William Clark who were in the Reagan Administration at the time).
The Treaty gives coastal states exclusive economic zones of maritime resources within 230 miles of their shoreline or more if they can prove that their underwater continental shelf extends beyond their coastline. In territorial jockeying, five nations have laid claims to portions of the seabed under the Arctic ice cap and seven to the seabed under the Antarctic ice cap. Russia , to strengthen its claim to the seabed, sent two submersibles to plant a corrosion-resistant titanium Russian flag on the (unmapped) seabed beneath the North Pole. Senator Murkowski (R., Alaska) warns that the U.S. could be cut out of the boundary-wars if it does not ratify the Treaty soon.
“The rest [beyond the coastal waters], regarded as international waters, is subject to agreed-upon rules governing fishing, protection of the marine environment, navigation, and mining of the ocean floor.” The international waters are under the management of the International Seabed Authority, a U.N. affiliate.
The ISA has taxing power. Taxes will be a percentage of revenue from oil, gas, or other commercial exploration outside territorial waters. The gas and oil industries favor the Treaty.
Besides undermining national sovereignty, the Treaty risks national security. Submarines are required to navigate on the surface and to display their flag. One submarine has already been built, the USS Jimmy Carter, to conform to this anti-defense regulation.
Technology is transferable from industrialized to less-developed nations and to national liberation movements like the PLO as well. “Obligatory technology transfers [that] would equip adversaries with sensitive and militarily useful equipment and knowledge” are objected to by Ed Meese and William P. Clark, who know the Treaty from their work in President Reagan’s Administration. The pro-Treaty case is made by George Shultz and James Baker.
According to Ambassador James Malone, President Reagan’s expert who renegotiated the Treaty in 1994,
The Treaty’s provisions were intentionally designed to promote a new world order—a form of collectivism known as the New International Economic Order (NIEO)—that seeks ultimately the redistribution of the world’s wealth through a complex system of manipulative central economic planning and bureaucratic coercion.
The Treaty’s purpose is peace, it explicitly states. It offers no protection for times of war. Defense planners will wonder if the U.S. can intercept planes carrying terrorists or can defend against jihad. Defense planners must choose between robust defense and decisions by foreign judges who are not likely to rule in their favor.
While President Reagan staunchly opposed the Treaty, he was not in principle against a treaty of modest mandates. In his radio address he said, “No one ruled out the idea of a treaty—one which makes sense—but after long years of fruitless negotiating [1973-1982], it became apparent that the undeveloped nations who now control the General Assembly were looking for a free ride at our expense—again.”
Four years later on June 29, 1982, he wrote in his diary now published, ”Decided in [National Security Council] meeting will not sign ‘Law of the Sea’ treaty even without seabed mining provisions.”
What will happen to U.S. approval of this flawed international agreement? The answer may depend upon who is the next president.
By Natalie Sirkin