In recent days, top U.S. cabinet officers have traveled around the world on high-profile diplomatic missions. Ironically, in the process of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Arctic Circle and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s travels in Asia, they both undercut the case for the United Nations’ controversial Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) – a case they had jointly made prior to departing in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mrs. Clinton took part in a meeting of the Arctic Council whose eight members have territory in that region. Of these, just five – Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark’s Greenland and the United States – actually have coasts on the Arctic Ocean, and therefore are able to claim rights to the resources offshore.
To be sure, the Secretary of State used the occasion of her joining the other Arctic nations for the purpose of forging a new region-wide search-and-rescue (S&R) agreement to express the Obama administration’s commitment to LOST. She assured her colleagues that the President is determined to overcome opposition in the Senate and the country in order to get the treaty ratified.
Still, this S&R agreement suggests the obvious: It is far easier to achieve understandings in a group of eight – or, better yet, five – nations that have similar, if not identical, interests and a shared understanding of the stakes, than among agroup of 150-plus nations, most of whom do not. If that is true for an accord governing assistance to downed planes and ships lost at sea, it surely is the case when it comes to the disposition of potentially many billions of dollars worth of undersea oil and gas deposits.
Meanwhile, our Defense Secretary was off in Asia trying to shore up America’s alliances in the region without actually saying that China is a threat that needs to be countered there. So he eschewed the President’s much-touted strategic “pivot” from the Middle East and South Asia to the South China Sea – supposedly involving a move in force to parry the PRC’s aspirations for hegemony. Instead, Mr. Panetta employed less offensive terms like “rebalancing” and made commitments about a future U.S. presence in the theater that were deeply discounted in light of ongoing, and forthcoming, sharp cuts in defense spending.
It happens that Secretary Panetta’s enthusiasm for the Law of the Sea Treaty tracks with Team Obama’s public efforts to low-ball the dangers posed by China’s increasingly aggressive behavior towards our Asian friends and allies, and its growing capacity to act coercively due to its growing military capabilities. He and, surprisingly, even senior Navy and other military officers who should know better seem to think that if only the United States were a party to LOST, international law would tame the Chinese dragon.
As one of the nation’s most astute China hands, Gordon Chang, noted recently in his column at World Affairs Journal (www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/gordon-g-chang/should-us-ratify-un-sea-treaty-because-china): “Although Beijing ratified the [LOST] pact in June 1996, it continues to issue maps claiming the entire South China Sea. That claim is, among other things, incompatible with the treaty’s rules. It’s no wonder Beijing notified the UN in 2006 that it would not accept international arbitration of its sovereignty claims.”
Just as common sense argues for using bilateral or, at most, five-party forums to establish arrangements governing the Arctic Ocean’s resources, it strongly militates against the United States allowing itself to be bound to a treaty whose core provisions (i.e., those governing limitations on territorial claims and mandatory dispute resolutions) are already being serially violated by Communist China.
On May 9th, Secretary Panetta nonetheless asserted that “By moving off the sidelines, by sitting at the table of nations that have acceded to this treaty, we can defend our interests, we can lead the discussions, we will be able to influence those treaty bodies that develop and interpret the Law of the Sea.” That is simply not so if, as is true of the LOST’s various institutions, we would have but one seat among many, and no certainty that we can decisively “influence bodies that develop and interpret the law of the Sea.”
In fact, thanks to the rigged-game nature of those institutions, such bodies can be relied upon to hamstring us – by, for example, applying environmental regulations over which we have no control to our Navy’s anti-submarine warfare exercises and our domestic emissions into inland air and water that migrates to the international oceans.
Meanwhile, the Chinese will get away with choosing which rules they will abide by and which they won’t. Mr. Chang puts it this way: “[China] is…a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but remains a notorious nuclear proliferator, and it is a member of the World Trade Organization, yet brazenly disregards its trade obligations. And UN sanctions? China openly violates those too, even though it is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.”
In short, the Obama administration wants Senators to suspend common sense and ignore real and legitimate concerns about the deleterious impact of the Law of the Sea Treaty on our sovereignty, economic interests and potentially even the national security. Will 34 Senators have enough common sense to just say “No”?
From the Hill:
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) on Friday became the 27th senator to sign on to a letter opposing passage of the Law of the Sea Treaty, leaving opponents just seven votes shy of the 34 votes opponents need to doom passage of the UN maritime convention.
“We are writing to let you know that we believe this Convention reflects political, economic, and ideological assumptions which are inconsistent with American values and sovereignty,” reads the letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
The full text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Harry Reid
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Mr. Leader,
We understand that Chairman Kerry has renewed his efforts to pursue Senate ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We are writing to let you know that we believe this Convention reflects political, economic, and ideological assumptions which are inconsistent with American values and sovereignty.
By its current terms, the Law of the Sea Convention encompasses economic and technology interests in the deep sea, redistribution of wealth from developed to undeveloped nations, freedom of navigation in the deep sea and exclusive economic zones which may impact maritime security, and environmental regulation over virtually all sources of pollution.
To effect the treaty’s broad regime of governance, we are particularly concerned that United States sovereignty could be subjugated in many areas to a supranational government that is chartered by the United Nations under the 1982 Convention. Further, we are troubled that compulsory dispute resolution could pertain to public and private activities including law enforcement, maritime security, business operations, and nonmilitary activities performed aboard military vessels.
If this treaty comes to the floor, we will oppose its ratification.
Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)
David Vitter (R-La.)
Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)
John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)
John Boozman (R-Ark.)
Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
Jim Risch (R-Idaho)
Mike Lee (R-Utah)
Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
John Thune (R-S.D.)
Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)
Dan Coats (R-Ind.)
John Hoeven (R-N.D.)
Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
Jim Moran (R-Kansas)
Dean Heller (R-Nev.)
Originally posted at Center for Security Policy by Frank Gaffney, Jr.
This week, the Obama administration will roll out its big guns in support of President Obama’s latest assault on American sovereignty and security interests: The UN Law of the Sea Treaty (better known as LOST). Of course, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, they will appear to be talking about another accord altogether – one that strengthens our sovereignty and is deemed by the U.S. military to be essential to our security.
So which is it?
The proponents are hoping that Senators on and off the Foreign Relations panel will do what they did during what passed for their chamber’s consideration of the New START Treaty in 2010: Take the administration’s word for it; be impressed by the pro-treaty testimonials and lobbying of an array of formereminences and special interests; and largely dispense with the serious scrutiny and check-and-balance vetting the framers had in mind when they entrusted to the Senate the constitutional responsibility to advise and consent to treaties.
If, on the other hand, the members of the U.S. Senate trouble themselves to study, or at least read, the text of the Law of the Sea Treaty, they would immediately see it for what it really is: a diplomatic dinosaur, a throwback to a bygone era when UN negotiations were dominated by communists of the Soviet Union and their fellow-travelers in the Third World.
These adversaries’ agenda was transparent and wholly inimical to American equities. They sought to: establish control over 70% of the world’s surface; create an international governing institution that would serve as a model for bringing nation states like ours to heel; and redistribute the planet’s wealth and technology from the developed world to themselves. LOST codifies such arrangements – and would subject us to mandatory dispute resolution to enforce them via stacked-deck adjudication panels
Fortunately, even if Senators are disinclined to go to school on what the Law of the Sea Treaty entails – and why it cannot possibly serve even the parochial interests of the U.S. Navy or oil and gas industries whose willfully blind support will be much in evidence in the ratification campaign ahead – others are doing their homework. Such efforts are likely to make the timing of the Obama administration’s current quest, shall we say, most inopportune.
First, Dick Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann, have just published an important new book that addresses, among other outrages, LOST as a prime example of the title: Screwed! How Foreign Countries are Ripping off America and Plundering our Economy – and How our Leaders Help Them Do It. In addition to their proven track-record as best-selling authors, Dick’s regular appearances on Fox News ensures that millions who might otherwise be unaware of what is afoot will be on notice and on guard. That markedly improves the chances that those who might try to slip such an assault on our sovereigntythrough in the dark of night will be challenged and held accountable.
Second, Glenn Beck – whose predicted demise as an influential broadcaster with his departure from Fox has proven, thankfully, to be premature – did yeoman work educating the American people about LOST in 2007, the last time a push was made to ensnare us in this accord. In his new and wildly successful reincarnation as a pioneer of internet subscription-based television, Mr. Beck stands to be even more effective in connecting the dots for his audience, and engaging them in opposing LOST.
Third, on June 1st, theaters nationwide will begin showing a documentary by Ami Horowitz called “U N Me” that uses Michael Moore-style humor and intrepid camera-work to lay waste to the United Nations as a corrupt, self-dealing, incompetent and fundamentally anti-American institution. It is hard to believe that anyone who sees this film will want to entrust any more resources, legitimacy or responsibility to such an organization – or to its subsidiaries like LOST’s International Seabed Authority, the Orwellian-named “Enterprise,” the Law of the Sea Tribunal, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, etc.
As it happens, even before such important forces are brought fully to bear in opposition to Team Obama’s bid to ram through the Senate this “constitution of the oceans,” the ratification bandwagon hit something of a roadblock. At the initiative of freshman Representative John Duncan (R-Tennessee) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who chairs the House Republican Study Committee, the House of Representatives last Friday voted 229-193 to bar millions of dollars the administration had sought to contribute to the funding of LOST organizations. This is the first time either chamber has formally voted in opposition to this agreement and is a salutary shot across the bow of its proponents.
There is, of course, one other factor that should prove problematic in terms of the timing of President Obama’s effort to foist LOST on the American people is that it comes amidst an election in which his presumptive Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, is no fan of this accord. According to an October 2007 report, a spokesman declared that “Governor Romney has concerns with the Law of the Sea Treaty. He believes giving unaccountable international institutions more power is a serious problem.”
A Citizens United and Citizens United Foundation production.
“Broken Promises” reports how the U.N. mishandled tribal conflicts in Rwanda resulting in the devastating loss of life and mass killing of nearly one million. Mother-to-be Eugenie Mukeshimana recounts for the first time her harrowing escape from the massacre and the inability of the U.N. to quell the rioting and mass killings.
“It’s not that the U.N. didn’t know what was going on. It’s just that they were told not to do anything,” said Ms. Mukeshimana.
Broken Promises takes viewers on an exploration of many international crises from the hostility between India and Pakistan in 1947, to the Arab/Israeli conflicts of the late 1940’s, to the slaughter of millions of Cambodian refugees by Pol Pot in the 1970s and the aforementioned hardships and genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia, to the present day oil for food scandal.
“Broken Promises, The United Nations at 60” is a clarion call to action for the United Nations to live up to the goals and objectives its charter mandated sixty years ago. Will the international community be up to the challenge?
“Broken Promises, The United Nations at 60”
As the United Nations turns 60, world leaders, scholars and government officials are addressing the following questions:
- Has the U.N. lived up to its founder’s ideals and what has been accomplished since its inception?
- Has the world body been successful in protecting human rights and preventing genocide?
- Can the organization be effective in the wake of the oil for food scandal and other internal crises?[/li] [/list]
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Citizens United Foundation and Peace River Company have set out to identify these issues in the new gripping documentary “Broken Promises, The United Nations at 60.”
Narrated by actor Ron Silver and Executive Produced by both Silver and David Bossie, “Broken Promises, The United Nations at 60,” features testimonials from many esteemed sources such as General Romeo Dallaire, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, developer Donald Trump, and survivors of genocide who relate their firsthand accounts of the U.N.’s performance in fulfilling its charter mandate of preserving and defending global human rights and preventing war. Other contributors to the documentary highlight:
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- The U.N.’s failure to initially account for the slaughter of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica
- The need for top to bottom U.N. reform[/li] [/list]
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