Did you know that China could become the world’s leading naval power by 2020? That’s the verdict of military analyst Tony Corn. This may help explain why the U.S. Navy thinks a piece of paper called the U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty provides some sort of protection for American forces on the high seas. It offers no such protection, of course, but it creates the impression that Navy leaders are doing something about our increasing weakness and vulnerability. However, like so many other U.N. treaties, including the 19 anti-terrorism treaties in effect on 9/11, this one offers a false sense of security. It will mask a dramatic decline in our military power.
The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) will be the subject of a September 27 hearing before Senator Joe Biden’s Foreign Relations Committee. All of the witnesses are pro-treaty. Another hearing is scheduled to follow and a quick Senate vote on the pact is then predicted. This process is better known as a railroad. Like the illegal alien amnesty bill, our Senate leaders, in cahoots with Bush Administration officials, are trying to rush it through. It remains to be seen whether the American people will wake up in time. Can we count on the media to blow the whistle? The betting here is that talk radio and the Internet will have to carry the load.
Before the Senate rushes into an embrace of this treaty, it might be advisable for our media to tell the complete story of the decline of the U.S. Navy and attempt to explain how and why this has happened. But that would require that major news organizations pay less attention to O.J. and Britney. And that may be too much to ask.
Corn explains what is happening right before our eyes. “Though globalization has increased the importance of maritime affairs, there has been both a relative and an absolute decline of U.S. sea power, with a U.S. Navy today at its lowest level in the post-World War II era,” he notes. “For the first time in 20 years, the U.S. is in the process of drafting a new maritime strategy, but with a considerably reduced force that went from 600 to fewer than 300 ships, and with new responsibilities in terms of nonmilitary maritime security. Hence the concept of the Thousand Ship Navy, which is meant to create a global maritime partnership with foreign navies.”
According to the Navy’s June 2007 Playbook, this 1,000-ship Navy is one that traverses the high seas under “hundreds of flags.” This plan depends on using foreign Navies, which are called “partner countries,” for our defense. Perhaps a U.N. Navy will even be involved. The Playbook declares, “A groundswell of support from military leaders around the world has allowed us to move forward with this concept and make it a reality.”
Military leaders around the world? They have “allowed” us to move forward with this concept. Since when did U.S. Navy officials look to foreign officials and leaders for guidance on what to do about U.S. national security? It apparently started sometime after the decline from 594 Navy ships under President Reagan, who rejected UNCLOS, to only 276 today. We are headed down to only 180 ships in 17 years.
Protecting U.S. national security has given way, according to the Playbook, to securing the “global community.” That’s on page 8. It also declares that “Diversity is a strategic imperative for the U.S. Navy” so that it can be “more relevant.”
Our Navy has not only been infected with the disease we all know as political correctness but it has come under the influence of international lawyers who pay homage to the U.N. Asked why U.S. Navy officials were supporting UNCLOS, one Navy Commander, with an important position in the Department of the Navy, told me, “The political leaders don’t really understand the issue, and they all listen to the lawyers. And the lawyers are all liberal. It is absolutely the problem. The Navy JAGs and the OGC [Navy’s Office of General Counsel] are liberal. It is a tragedy.”
We should have had some inkling of the problem when, in 2001, a U.S. Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane was brought down and the crew made hostages by the Chinese. The Chinese regime detained the crew for 11 days and the plane for more than three months. The crew was released after a U.S. statement that China interpreted as an apology.
The U.S. military response was to dispatch Admiral William J. Fallon, then-commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, to China to kiss the butts of Chinese officials. According to press reports, he got excited on a 2006 visit because the Chinese allowed him to sit in the cockpit of a Chinese warplane. Fallon, who has since been made the head of U.S. Central Command, said he wanted U.S.-China ties to be more “open and transparent.” This constituted nothing less than groveling to officials of an outlaw regime.
Although the U.S. said the Navy plane was in international airspace, the Chinese charged that the flight was a violation of UNCLOS, which its government had ratified. As one analyst noted, the U.S. and China interpreted the treaty text differently. But because the U.S. had not ratified the treaty, we were free to ignore it, as well as the Chinese interpretation. The U.S. didn’t have to grovel. But we chose to do so.
Meanwhile, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Mullen has just completed his own trip to China and has indicated he would improve ties with China when he takes over as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff next month.
Mullen is said to be the brain behind the 1,000-ship Navy concept. One story notes that Mullen’s concept is “to build on existing international security agreements to extend the global reach of sea power.” That power, he says, includes the ability to “share and unite” nations.
Sounding like a U.N. Secretary-General, rather than a U.S. military leader, Mullen says, “Our vision is to extend the peace through an interconnected community of maritime nations working together.” That includes UNCLOS.
There is one big problem with Mullen’s “vision.” What happens when a country like China violates the treaty? It is clear, based on the EP-3 incident, that the U.S. doesn’t have the political will or military capability to confront China. So what happens when the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea rules for China and against the U.S.? It can only mean further surrender by the U.S. in the face of Chinese military power.
This is just one of several questions that occur to those wondering why the U.S. is so eager to ratify a treaty that most certainly will be interpreted to go against American interests.
If anyone doubts that decisions of the tribunal or its subsidiary panels will go against America, one only has to note that the so-called Group of 77, which includes China, is now the largest intergovernmental organization of developing states in the U.N. Despite its name, it has increased to 130 countries. It not only dominates the U.N., it dominates the membership of UNCLOS.
The handwriting is on the wall. Or, rather, the treaty. The U.S. is walking into a trap. What’s worse, Navy officials should know it.