“In a multinational race to seize the potential riches of the formerly icebound Arctic, being laid bare by global warming, Russia is the early favorite.” So says the Christian Science Monitor. “At stake is an estimated one-quarter of all the world’s untapped hydrocarbon reserves, abundant fisheries, and a freshly opened route that will cut nearly a third off the shipping time from Asia to Europe.”
What the paper neglected to note is that the U.S. has exclusive rights to this region because Americans were the first to the North Pole. There is no Russian advantage, despite their planting a flag there in 2007. There is also a dispute, of course, whether the “warming” is man-made or not.
“Within the next year,” the paper went on, “the Kremlin is expected to make its claim to the United Nations in a bold move to annex about 380,000 square miles of the internationally owned Arctic to Russian control.”
In fact, the Arctic is not “internationally owned” and the U.N. has no jurisdiction over the area unless and until the U.S. gives up its rights by ratifying the U.N.’s Law of the Sea Treaty.
As we have pointed out in the past, “American explorers staked an American claim to the North Pole in the early 1900s and U.S. nuclear submarines traveled below the Pole and broke the ice in the 1950s. Russian claims [to the region] are fraudulent and should be seen and rejected as such.”
What makes this relevant and newsworthy is President Obama’s push for ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, which would indeed put the region under the jurisdiction of global bureaucrats.
The Russians tried the same gambit under President Bush, who also pushed the treaty, and we warned at the time that the Russians “are hoping to reap a financial windfall amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of oil revenue. With State Department support, the U.N. will take its cut, and the U.S. will end up being even more dependent on Russia and other foreign sources of oil. The entire scenario, however, can be disrupted by the American people objecting to this scheme and convincing the Senate to reject UNCLOS [the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea]. They will have to remind their Senators that Reagan, who was right on the Panama Canal Treaty, was also opposed to UNCLOS.”
As a result of grass-roots pressure, the treaty was never brought up for a full Senate vote. Conservative opponents sought 34 votes to stop it (a treaty requires 67 votes for passage).
As long as the U.S. remains a non-party to the treaty, our rights are enforceable by the U.S. Navy. But once ratification takes place, we are at the mercy of foreign interests, including Russia and China, as well as international lawyers and bureaucrats.
Today, the U.S. Navy fleet consists of 284 ships, down from a high close to 600 under Reagan.
The Journal of International Security Affairs has more bad news for the U.S. An article by Gal Luft notes, “Despite the significant geopolitical and geo-economic interests the United States has in the Arctic, Washington has treated the region with insufficient resources and even less policy attention. Russia, meanwhile, is pursuing a path of aggressiveness and unilateralism. The number of icebreakers essential for safe navigation in the Arctic is one measure of American neglect of the region. The United States has only two, compared to Russia’s fleet of twenty-nine, seven of which are nuclear.”
With Obama and Panetta preparing major cuts in national defense, it will be up to Congress to make the case for funding new icebreakers for the U.S.
The 202-page UNCLOS treaty document was described by the late leftist Senator Alan Cranston as “the most far-reaching and comprehensive system created thus far by the global community.” UNCLOS mandates a global tax on corporations which exploit ocean resources, an International Seabed Authority to collect the revenue, and an International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea to govern ocean affairs.
Harvard law professor and international lawyer Louis B. Sohn, who himself advocated world government, was a key author of UNCLOS. He offered a detailed proposal to transform the United Nations into a world government in his book, World Peace Through World Law. He declared that he wanted this world government to maintain hundreds of thousands of troops, military bases and be armed with nuclear weapons. The purpose, he said, would be to disarm “each and every nation and to deter or suppress any attempted international violence.”
This “world authority” would also require a “United Nations Revenue System,” drawing taxes from “each nation” of the world, he said. UNCLOS was a step in his scheme.
Nevertheless, both Alaska senators, Democrat Mark Begich and Republican Lisa Murkowski, support its passage. Begich recently held a hearing, “Defending U.S. Economic Interests in the Changing Arctic: Is There a Strategy?,” which became a vehicle for promoting acceptance and ratification of the treaty.
Begich and Murkowski had previously appeared at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting, “Adapting to Climate Change in the Arctic – Coordinating a Federal, State and Private Sector Response,” where Murkowski talked about “the necessity for ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
At the same time, Murkowski said that that while she had pushed for funding to “refurbish” the Polar Star and Polar Sea icebreakers, the Coast Guard was merely studying “whether or not we need to rebuild or replace these polar class fleets” and she wondered whether the Obama Administration regards new icebreakers as a national priority.
“You cannot be an Arctic nation and not have sufficient assets when it comes to icebreakers. So we’re certainly going to do all we can to advocate that position,” she said.
The Christian Science Monitor piece is an indication that the media support the “treaty trap” option favoring the Russians and not the building of any new icebreakers to counter the Russian advantage. “Among other things,” the publication noted, “Moscow plans to build at least six more icebreakers and spend $33 billion to construct a year-round port on the Arctic shores.”
By contrast, it said, “The US, which has not signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, under which any territorial divisions would be made, is also beefing up its regional military might.” It did not define “regional military might” or the nature of the existing Russian advantage.
CommentsComments are turned off for this article.