Accuracy in Media

It is fascinating to watch how our liberal media treat the Bush Administration on foreign policy matters. The bias against its Iraq War policy has been phenomenal. But when the administration moves in the direction of abandoning an assertive U.S. foreign policy and relying more heavily on international institutions and other nations to solve problems, the coverage turns cordial and extremely supportive. Such is the case with the administration’s push for ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

On July 30, Lawrence S. Eagleburger and John Norton Moore wrote a misleading op-ed for the Washington Post endorsing the pact. The piece completely ignored the role of Marxists, world government advocates and the anti-American bloc of nations at the U.N. in devising the measure. Then, USA Today’s diplomatic correspondent Barbara Slavin wrote two articles about the supposed benefits of the treaty. Senator James Inhofe was given one sentence in opposition at the end of one of the articles. He talked about the need to protect American sovereignty. 

One problem for treaty proponents is that a top State Department official has now admitted, in a major slip-up, that the U.S. supports the measure because of the steep decline in the number of Navy and Coast Guard ships needed to protect and assert U.S. interests on the high seas. In other words, support for UNCLOS stems from a position of weakness. 

In effect, the State Department is saying that a piece of paper is going to substitute for American muscle. The terrible implication is that American muscle has turned mostly into flab and that we are now going to depend on the treaty’s international tribunal with mostly foreign judges to protect our interests. 

The embarrassing gaffe came on July 17 at a panel discussion sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute. Susan Biniaz, an Assistant Legal Adviser in the U.S. Department of State, said, “I think someone said how few ships there are compared to how many there used to be. We don’t have the capacity to be challenging every maritime claim throughout the world solely through the use of naval power. And [we] certainly can’t use the Navy to meet all the economic interests.”

These comments, completely ignored by the major media, came in response to a point that I had made at the event, citing evidence that the number of U.S. Navy ships is down to 276, from a high of 594 under President Reagan. If present trends continue, according to the American Shipbuilding Association, we are heading down to a 180-ship-Navy. 

It is important to emphasize that Biniaz did not dispute these figures. Instead, she acknowledged them during the course of saying that they justified depending on a treaty negotiated under the auspices of the U.N. to protect America’s military and economic interests. 

The American people would appear to disagree with this approach. A recent UPI/Zogby poll found that some 54.3 percent of those asked said the United Nations was a “bloated bureaucracy that weakens U.S. sovereignty and costs taxpayers too much.” 

These results, however, didn’t get any media attention, except by UPI, Zogby and a few websites that carry their material.

The media bias in favor of the U.N. and various treaties is institutional in some cases. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times, said at an annual meeting some years ago that the paper has always maintained an “international” approach to the news. It is not surprising, therefore, that a major component of the U.N. lobby, the United Nations Association (UNAUSA), received over $10,000 in 2005 from the New York Times Company Foundation. But you won’t find this reported in the pages of the Times. 

UNAUSA, which gave its Global Leadership Award in 2006 to former president Bill Clinton, not only supports UNCLOS but is putting its weight behind Senate passage of a U.N. feminist rights treaty known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. UNAUSA also promotes acceptance of the International Criminal Court, which would deny Bill of Rights protections to American citizens.

In the same category of giving to UNAUSA, the $10,000-plus range, was Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr., senior vice president of General Electric, parent company of NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC. 

Other media-oriented donations to UNAUSA came from the Barbara Walters Charitable Trust and Time Inc. The 2005 tax return of the Walters foundation showed $2,000 to the UNAUSA, in order to “develop and maintain public support” for the United Nations, and $4,000 to the Council on Foreign Relations for “fostering [the] USA’s understanding of foreign relations.”

The UNA/USA’s most recent posted annual report also lists over $500,000 coming to the group from the taxpayer-funded United States Agency for International Development and over $25,000 coming from the taxpayer-funded U.S. Institute of Peace. 

So, in effect, we as taxpayers are underwriting an organization that lobbies for a treaty that many Americans may oppose. Again, don’t look for any news organizations to investigate this improper use of tax money. 

The UNAUSA is probably best known for its “Model U.N.” programs at public schools across the country, in which students are taught about the value of the organization and how to play the role of pretend diplomats solving world problems. It has a spin-off project, Global Classrooms, funded with $7.5 million provided by financial giant Merrill Lynch. The Microsoft Foundation also provides money for the project.

It also receives the enthusiastic support of the U.S. Department of State, which is listed officially as being an operating “partner.” Indeed, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave the opening remarks at the 2005 Global Classrooms Model U.N. Washington, D.C. conference. A flier (PDF) says that you can expect to see Global Classrooms being implemented in public middle schools and high schools in 13 U.S. cities by 2010. We are told that it is already in all 17 Washington, D.C. public high schools. 

The official magazine of Global Classrooms is titled Global Citizen. “A subscription to the Global Citizen allows young people to get in touch with important global issues and encourages them to develop into responsible global citizens,” the website says. 

Undoubtedly, a “responsible” global citizen will support Senate ratification of UNCLOS. An alternative, such as building more ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, would probably be seen as a form of warmongering.

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