Sometimes, after reading various blogs, listening to various callers on some talk shows, and even reading Twitter, I have begun to realize that there are a few that have been asleep for a very long time. Case in point is Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) which is “supposed” to be ratified in the near future. Let’s begin first by taking a look at the history of this treaty.
NOTE: Under NO circumstances, do I intend to convey the idea that we, as Americans, should not oppose these treaties. After reading them, YES we should oppose them.
Without going into a long drawn out and extremely boring history, let’s just say there has always been a LOST in one form or another since the 17th century , but like everything back then, it was a lot simpler. Now let’s fast forward to the 20th century, when President Wilson’s brainchild, the League of Nations, held a conference to address LOST, but like everything that the League of Nations attempted, nothing really came out of this conference.
In 1945, President Truman used the customary international law principle of a nation’s right to protect its natural resources and extended the United States control to include all of the natural resources on the U.S.’s continental shelf. Soon, other nations followed suit and between 1946 and 1950, four South American nations extended their rights to a distance of 200 nautical miles to cover their Humboldt Current fishing grounds, while other nations extended their territorial seas to 12 nautical miles.
Between 1956 and 1983 there were three U.N. Conventions [UNCLOS I (1956), UNCLOS II (1960), UNCLOS III (1972 – 1982) concerning LOST. In 1982, President Reagan refused to sign on to UNCLOS III, particularly Part XI. This refusal was based on his broad belief that the oceans resources cannot be claimed by any one nation. However, from 1983 to 1990, the United States accepted all but Part XI as customary international law, while at the same time attempting to establish an alternative regime for exploitation of the minerals of the deep seabed.
In October 1994, Clinton signs the treaty (Editor note: This DOES NOT mean the U.S. has joined the treaty, it just means that Clinton believes the U.S. should be a member of the treaty), and sends it to the Senate for ratification. After hearings in the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs (SCoFA), it fails to take action on the agreement after its chairman, U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms (R), expresses concerns. The treaty is not sent to the full Senate, where ratification would require support from a two-thirds majority of its 100 members.
In 2002, President Bush expressed his backing of the treaty and later, in May, 2007, he also calls for ratification, saying, “It will secure U.S. sovereign rights over extensive marine areas, including the valuable natural resources they contain. Accession will promote U.S. interests in the environmental health of the oceans. And it will give the United States a seat at the table when the rights that are vital to our interests are debated and interpreted.” The treaty once again goes to the SCoFA and after hearings, it passes out of committee by a 17 to 4 vote and sent to the full Senate for a vote. However, the Senate fails to take it up. (Editor’s note: weren’t the liberals in control of the senate in 2007?).
Once again, in May, 2009, Senator Kerry (who served in Vietnam) and was chairman of the SCoFA announced that he planned to restart the effort to ratify the LOST.
A little over a year later, in July, 2010, Obama adopted the recommendations of the Ocean Policy Task Force, which supported joining the treaty.
Hillary Clinton joined the push for ratification in May, 2012.
As of today, 18 July, there is no indication that LOST has even been scheduled for a vote before the full Senate, and it seems that the votes for ratification are not there as Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, both mentioned as possible running mates for Mitt Romney, have said they had serious concerns about the breadth and ambiguity of the Law of the Sea treaty and would oppose it if it were called up for a vote.
Now, I must ask, this treaty has been around for ca. 30 years, 10 of which, I would say, has been of the age of the internet In fact, Facebook began in 2004 and Twitter in 2006, so I have to ask some questions.
Why all of a sudden is it everyone in such a “panic”? Could it be because they realize that like with everything else that has been happening in America, they have been either apathetic or asleep? Where were these people who are blogging and tweeting about LOST back over the past 10 years? Did any of these concerned citizens ask their Senate candidate or their Senator whether he/she supported or opposed it? Did they even think about this treaty? Do these same people really believe that any senator who claims to oppose LOST will continue to oppose it after they are elected / reelected? Will people actually hold their Senators feet to the fire AFTER the 2012 election or will they move on to the next BIG crisis?
I realize that some may consider the questions I’ve asked as insulting, saying, “Well WE are awake NOW!” To this I will say, “Thank God! BUT is it too late? Does anyone realize that what has / is happening in America today did not begin in 2008, with the election of Obama, but has been a cancer that has been growing for many years?”
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”