Monday, April 13, 2009

Per a request on my objection to the Law of the Sea Treaty

In a previous post I stated, " The world cannot tolerate blatantly idiotic foreign policy like the Kellog-Briand Pact which outlawed war in 1928 - that is until Germany made it legal again 1938. You can add the Law of the Sea Treaty to stupid policies while you're at it. Tyrants don't care about paper. They care about power...."

In response to that post I was asked in the comment section "Could you be more specific about the Law of the Sea Convention? The Navy makes strong arguments in its favor that have been endorsed by all living CNOs. The Coast Guard feels the same. Do you object to the provisions of the Convention or just to having written international law in general?"

This is a good question and one that deserves a response. My objection to LOST is simple. The Navy, the State Department, and the Coast Guard all support provisions of the LOST for their own purposes yet fail to recognize or simply ignore the fact that there are other provisions in the treaty which are objectionable and should be a major concern to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate as a whole.

The Navy supports the LOST because of its provisions which would guarantee the Navy passage on the oceans. Frankly, I think this is a weak reason. The United States Navy does not need a treaty to move to on the Oceans. We have been doing it for hundreds of years and a piece of paper is a shallow guarantee to rely on. Our Navy should be free to move through out the waters of the world based on our strength not on our diplomacy. This is not unilateralism - it is necessity

The United States Coast Guard relies of many of same reasons that the Navy relies on including beneficial law enforcement provisions around territorial waters. A very helpful article on the Coast Guard provision can be found here.

The State Department's reasons for supporting the treaty is a combination of the rationale between the the Navy and Coast Guard plus international relations matters with other countries of maritime issues (including sea bed and continental shelf issues).

I Pulled the following off the State Department's website:

Ocean and Polar Affairs

The Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs (OPA) is a part of the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES). OPA is responsible for formulating and implementing U.S. policy on international issues concerning the oceans, the Arctic, and Antarctica.

OPA’s overarching goal is to promote the interests of the United States in ocean and polar affairs through:

  • Early accession to, and vigorous implementation of, the Law of the Sea Convention, the comprehensive framework governing uses of the ocean;
  • Negotiation of bilateral and multilateral ocean and polar agreements;
  • Active leadership in international fora dealing with ocean and polar issues; and
  • Close coordination with other Federal agencies and interested stakeholders.

Our specific objectives and priorities are to:

  • Secure the Senate’s advice and consent to U.S. accession to the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, and preserve the balance of interests reflected in its provisions.
  • Protect the marine environment from pollution and other anthropogenic threats, through the International Maritime Organization, Regional Seas Programmes, oil spill response, control of invasive species, and other means.
  • Conserve marine biodiversity, including whales and other cetaceans, polar bears, sea birds, and coral reefs.
  • Improve maritime security, to protect the United States from terrorism and other criminal threats, and to protect freedom of navigation and maritime commerce.
  • Promote peace and security, good governance, and environmental protection in Antarctica, including by hosting the 32nd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and supporting the International Polar Year.
  • Address changing conditions in the Arctic through international engagement at the Arctic Council and other fora, including through support of the International Polar Year.
  • Promote marine scientific research with an efficient authorization process and through support of several international scientific organizations.
  • Establish the outer limits of the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf, through leadership of an interagency Task Force, to strengthen the nation’s security, promote economic prosperity, and enhance the stewardship of our natural resources.
  • Protect underwater cultural heritage, through participation in bilateral and multilateral international agreements, as well as through domestic policies.
Now finally, to my objection. The goals that the Coast Guard, the Navy and the State Department want to achieve from this treaty are good and noble goals. If a treaty is the best way to do this, then fine - enter a treaty but make it a good one. Treaty's trump all American law save the Constitution. We cannot and should not ratify a treaty with bad provisions.

I have objections to the land based provisions of LOST, the provisions which determine what is a military matter, what is intelligence, and what actions we can take on the oceans subject to international scrutiny.

These issues are all a matter of public record from the 2007 Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the LOST. The press chose the ignore the illuminating exchanges between Senator Vitter and DoD and DoS witnesses. I encourage you to read the following article highlight the exchange and if that it is not enough, I suggest you read the full congressional record on the hearing found on Senator Lugar's website.

The bottom line here is that everyone wants a piece of their pie, but they don't know what the other pieces are and they are not sure what is lurking in the gaps between their own interests.

In full disclosure, my foreign policy is based on a Westphalian point of view. I believe the world needs to be made up of free and sovereign nation-states; not an inter-dependent global community.

Speaking of the Law of the Sea Treaty, since we have not ratified it, anyone want to tell me how our Navy rescued an American Ship captain from pirates in Somali waters and are holding a Pirate in custody for prosecution? Again, situations like this show the impotence of this treaty and the danger of UN group think. So if we sign the LOST -- Again I say, take out the dangerous parts.

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