Prick up your ears. The Law of the Sea Treaty is a bad idea. Very bad for America. Buying into this latest bit of international fascism. Abandoning our national sovereignty to UN warlords? You're kidding right?
How Many Lawyers Does It Take to Sink the U.S. Navy?
Unfortunately, the Law of the Sea Treaty is no laughing matter.
by Jeremy Rabkin, Weekly Standard
On October 1962, President Kennedy ordered the U.S. Navy to prevent foreign ships from reaching Cuba unless they submitted to U.S. inspections on the high seas to verify that they were not transporting missiles or other offensive weapons to the island. Similar measures had been adopted in wartime blockades, but the Kennedy administration, not wanting to acknowledge a state of war with Cuba, termed this intervention a "quarantine."
It was a soothing term in the midst of a confrontation which threatened to trigger a catastrophic nuclear exchange. So the Kennedy administration did not let itself worry that its "quarantine" did not happen to correspond with any recognized practice in international law.
If a similar crisis should arise today, the Bush administration seems to think we could rely on an international tribunal to determine whether U.S. actions were or were not legally valid.
In the 1980s, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi claimed the Gulf of Sidra as Libyan territorial waters and demanded that foreign ships obtain Libyan permission before entering this broad bay on the Mediterranean coast. Since the mouth of the bay is 300 miles wide, it was not very plausible, under generally recognized principles of international law, to claim that all the enclosed waters were Libyan territorial seas. But Libya could have claimed authority to enforce conservation standards in an "exclusive economic zone" covering the whole Gulf of Sidra.
Rather than argue the fine points at length, President Reagan sent a carrier task force into these waters in 1986 to prove that they were open to international navigation, without prior permission. The task force opened fire on Libyan patrol boats which tried to resist its intervention. Two of the Libyan boats were sunk, with the loss of all hands.
Today, the Bush administration seems to think we could avoid such unpleasantness by relegating all such disputes to the determination of an international tribunal.
In the past, writers on international law acknowledged that states could not be expected to submit the most sensitive political questions--those most vital to national security--to international arbitration. Most of the world seems to have abandoned this view, but most nations no longer make great efforts to provide for their own defense. So, even as the United States has substantially reduced the scale of its naval forces, since the peak years of the Reagan build-up we have acquired a larger and larger share of the world's naval capacity. Others have shrunk their forces further and faster.
In past centuries, rules about the conduct of ships at sea emerged from agreements among major naval powers, and there were always a number of naval powers engaged in challenging, enforcing, and accommodating agreed-upon standards. Now, when the United States (by some estimates) actually deploys a majority of the world's naval capacity, we are told that our security requires us to participate with 150 other states in electing international judges to determine, in the last analysis, what rules our Navy must accept.
To find this convincing, one must be awed by the moral authority of the U.N. majority. To think that way means that we seek consensus at almost any price. Why do we claim to be independent, why do we invest so many billions in defense capacities, if we are prepared to go along with an international consensus, articulated (and -readjusted) by international jurists? The Senate should think long and hard before making the U.S. Navy answer to the U.N version of the Law of the Sea.