On Politics
by Anthony Stasi
Mar 04, 2009 | 803 views | 0 0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In our rush as a country to apologize to the world for whatever it is we did to upset it, Congress and the White House are now considering signing the Law of the Sea Treaty. The treaty is commonly referred to as LOST, which some say is appropriately named as it should get lost. LOST will give the power of the seas to an international governing body, of which the United States is only one vote out of 150. The United States will not hold any special veto power either. Instead, the world’s oceans and seas (seven-tenths of the planet) will be monitored by an International Seabed Authority (ISA).

ISA will, if we sign on to this treaty, oversee all sea mining and oil drilling in the world’s oceans. As the United Nations clearly states, “International Seabed Authority, through its Council, is given broad discretionary powers to assess the potential environmental impact of a given deep seabed mining operation, recommend changes, formulate rules and regulations, establish a monitoring programme and recommend issuance of emergency orders by the Council to prevent serious environmental damage.”

There is a basic difference of philosophy here. While we want a thriving marine life, and cleaner oceans, the belief channeled in the LOST treaty is that the deep-sea ocean bed is a “common heritage of mankind” and the ocean’s resources belong to all countries. This does not always jive with our western capitalistic DNA. What is worse is that if a company plays by the LOST rules and mines in the ocean, not only is what they find up for grabs, but the technology used has to be shared. So why would anyone want to explore in the first place?

However, there were good things discussed at the convention that looks to produce the LOST treaty. For instance, the treaty would create a worldwide effort to curtail over-fishing and it would seek to protect marine life in an unprecedented way.

LOST was a treaty that President Bush wanted to sign, some say as a way of apologizing for creating a muddy foreign policy that annoyed a large part of the world. Bush’s plan was to try to make nice with the United Nations, which is rarely a friend to the United States. But remember that we heard the same international logic with NAFTA and GATT. These were treaties that were going to cure America’s ills by creating wealth in other countries and regulating trade. Only the crazies on the right and left wings opposed it. Now we see that they may have been right. Our jobs went south and our economy followed.

Proponents of LOST claim that it will remove barriers that face our Navy. But nowhere in LOST does it explain what barriers our Navy, the world’s largest and most powerful already, faces. When LOST before Congress this year, it will be met with opposition, but maybe not nearly enough.

Consider the views of two historical American women on this treaty. Dr. Jeanne Kirkpatrick, former ambassador to the United Nations and Georgetown scholar, said the following about LOST: “It is a bad bargain for the United States. We have chosen to not go along with international agreements before, and the sky has not fallen…the treaty is disadvantageous to American industry and to American interests.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at her confirmation hearings about LOST, “if confirmed, its ratification will be one of my top treaty priorities at State, and the new administration will work with the Senate to secure approval."

Now, we are going to see an unpopular Congress looking to throw a bone to the international community because they are so ashamed of the last eight years. The result, however, may hurt U.S. sovereignty.

LOST doesn’t get support from one party more than another party. If you analyze the people that support this treaty, you see that longtime D.C. politicians such as Richard Lugar, Dick Cheney, and Bill Clinton are supporters. But legislators that still answer to their districts need to question this treaty. The world will get over it if we abstain.

We are lucky to be nation rich with resources and technology. We should make every effort to not abuse this heft. Sharing this good fortune with the developing world is not bad policy, but we are in no way obligated to share with 149 other countries (many that do not like us) that wealth and knowledge. And by the way, there is nothing in this treaty that says that the United States gets a vote out of the 150 – at least not permanently.

We might rethink why we would enter into a treaty where we abide by most of the rules in it already, only now we would be in less control of our environmental – and perhaps our national security – policy.

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