Law of the Sea Treaty & Republican candidates

Written by  //  November 3, 2007  //  Geopolitics, Politics, U.S., United Nations  //  No comments

November 3, 2007

My Favorite Menace
By GAIL COLLINS, Op-Ed Columnist

The Law of the Sea Treaty has become a hot-button item in the Republican presidential race.
Say what?
“One of the defining issues of our time,” declared Mike Huckabee, who is leading an anti-treaty charge.
People, what do you think of when you hear “defining issues of our time?” Middle East? Global warming? Did it ever occur to you there are Americans who would say: “Law of the Sea Treaty?” Americans who are running for president of the United States? Americans who are rapidly moving up in the Iowa polls? This is close to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” territory.
The treaty has been theoretically under consideration in Washington for a quarter of a century. Some might regard it nostalgically, like a 202-page lava lamp. It was approved by the United Nations in 1982, after endless negotiation during which attending Law of the Sea debates was named one of the Ten Most Boring Things To Do in New York. Its intent was to clarify rules for navigation and mining in international waters and set up a system for settling disputes. When it got to Washington, Britney Spears was still a toddler and Rudy Giuliani had a full head of hair. Ronald Reagan rejected it because he was worried about deep sea mining rights — manganese module mining to be exact.
Happily, that’s no longer an issue because:
a) The United Nations fixed the part Reagan had a problem with.
b) Manganese modules not quite as hot an item as they were when disco ruled.
Bill Clinton wanted the treaty, but gave up trying to find 67 votes in the Senate. Nothing much has happened since, except 155 other countries have ratified it, including several that didn’t exist when it was first passed. The United States, of course, is not the only nation holding back because of well-considered reservations. I hear Libya made some excellent points. And our side also includes all the parts of the Axis of Evil we have yet to invade.

John McCain, who used to support the treaty, recently waved the white flag on a conservative Web site. “I think that we need a Law of the Sea,” he blogged. “I think it’s important, but I have not frankly looked too carefully at the latest situation as it is, but it would be nice if we had some of the provisions in it. But I do worry a lot about American sovereignty aspects of it, so I would probably vote against it in its present form.”
…  Rudy Giuliani said he “cannot support the creation of yet another unaccountable international bureaucracy that might infringe on American sovereignty and curtail America’s freedoms,” and Fred Thompson roused himself long enough to announce that “the efforts of treaty proponents would be better spent reforming an ineffective, unaccountable and corrupt United Nations.” Mitt Romney’s spokesman just said Mitt has “concerns.”
Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee called the treaty “the dumbest thing we’ve ever done.”
Complete article

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