LOST At Sea By Bryan Preston
Among the more notable speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last month, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) described a United Nations treaty that the Senate is attempting to ratify without a floor vote and with the blessing of the Bush administration. The UN Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) (Treaty Doc. 103-39) cedes absolute control of 70% of the earth’s surface, extending from the seabed to the airspace above, to a new UN regulatory agency called the International Seabed Authority. Through the treaty, that body could potentially derive powers to interfere with aspects of U.S. sovereignty from our corporations to the operations of our blue water Navy. The treaty would also create an international court with jurisdiction over nearly everything having to do with international waters.
LOST is not a new idea. Negotiated during the Carter years, it was still an open item when Ronald Reagan became president. President Reagan listened to his advisors debate the pros and cons of the treaty before he interrupted the debate and rejected it completely in 1982 and fired the negotiators who negotiated it. Reagan understood its impact to national sovereignty and refused to have any part of it. President Bill Clinton gave it new life when he signed it in 1994. Fortunately, Senator Jesse Helms saw to it that it never came before the Senate, so it never became US law.
But now, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) is determined to get LOST past the Senate. On February 25, 2005 Lugar sent it from the Foreign Relations Committee with unanimous support; however, he never allowed opponents to testify during the hearings. He has been trying to avoid a floor debate and vote, preferring to engineer its ratification using a Senate procedure known as “unanimous consent”. This process would allow ratification without the troublesome complication of having a public record of who opposed or supported the treaty and how each Senator voted.
LOST would give the UN a new agency with which to browbeat the United States, much as the other UN commissions like the Human Rights Commission and the Security Council. The aforementioned International Seabed Authority would administer all fishing, mining and drilling operations, charge fees for exploration, and demand that all exploration and mining technologies be defined in detail. That would allow other nations to effectively steal the patented secret technologies of US corporations and the military. ISA will also demand that the exploration company provide all engineering and research data for TWO sites, then will decide which one it wants to keep for itself, and will possibly grant a permit on the other site, but is not bound to issue any permit. Additionally, the United States would be required to fund 25% of the ISA’s operating budget. So we will get more UN-led abuse, paid for by the US taxpayer.
The LOST treaty also includes some very troubling provisions relating to our national defense. Some provisions prohibit sub-surface navigation or collection of intelligence information without permission from the world body, so our submarines would be breaking the treaty if they were operated as they were designed. The brand new Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Jimmy Carter, ironically reported to be an advanced intelligence-gathering powerhouse, would be a boat without a mission—unless we get permission from Kofi Annan to use it. This would also give the world body the exact locations of our nuclear submarine fleet at all times. So much for President Bush’s statement that he will not seek a permission slip to protect our vital interests. LOST would also make the Proliferation Strategy Initiative (PSI) illegal because it would not be permissible to board, inspect, or confiscate materials from ships at sea found to be smuggling weapons and/or terrorists. PSI has been instrumental in dealing with North Korea’s weapons smuggling industry and played a role in disarming Libya. Why would we willingly give that up?
Just ask LOST’s proponents. The Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney writes, “The short answer seems to be that a number of special interests have come together to urge ratification. The Navy thinks LOST will lighten its responsibility for assuring freedom of navigation with an ever-smaller fleet. Oil and gas companies think it will facilitate offshore exploration and drilling. Curiously, for their part, environmentalists expect to be able more tightly to regulate the oceans and to bar activities that endanger the health of their waters, flora and fauna, such as drilling and mining. And the State Department, which never saw a treaty it didn’t like, contends membership in LOST will help President Bush improve ties with Europe and other foreign powers.”
So, it’s all a matter of single-issue groups wanting a flawed treaty to advance their narrow agendas. Business as usual in Washington, but this business can effectively end American sovereignty.
Finally, radical environmentalists may find ways to use the LOST to promote their own anti-capitalist and anti-American agendas They face no obvious obstacles, and all of the radical environmentalists have endorsed the treaty. That should be enough to increase one’s skepticism right away. David Krieger of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation says, “Maintaining the oceans as a common heritage demands that the oceans be protected from contamination by nuclear pollutants; that they not be used in a manner to undermine basic human rights, particularly the rights to life and to a healthy environment; and that the oceans not be allowed to serve as a public preserve for those states that believe their own security interests demand the endangerment of global human survival.”
In time, LOST will be used to regulate industrial activities taking place on land, in the name of environmental protection. An official U.N. brochure marking LOST’s 20th anniversary says it as plainly as possible:
“The greatest threat to the health of the marine environment comes not from oil spills at sea or ocean dumping, but from human activities on land.”
All of these components of LOST threaten our national security, our national sovereignty and our economic vitality. Given the American people’s understandable contempt for the United Nations, it is no wonder that LOST’s proponents want to keep this treaty quiet. This treaty is dangerous, and the motives of its supporters are suspect. Further, on its face LOST violates many of President Bush’s core beliefs.
The Bush administration must torpedo the LOST treaty.
(JS contributed significantly to this post)
This content was used with the permission of Bryan Preston of JunkYardBlog. You can read more of his work by clicking here.