In promoting their latest cause, liberals have managed to enlist a member of a small group getting smaller by the year?conservatives in academia. “Academics did not get anywhere near this,” John Norton Moore of the University of Virginia told an audience at the Heritage Foundation on June 22 of the the United Nations’ Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) that would give the UN control over seven-tenths of the earth’s surface.
Actually Accuracy in Media editor Cliff Kincaid found that if LOST wasn’t birthed in academe, public officials have, nevertheless, looked to the Ivory Tower for inspiration. “Navy Commander James Kraska, who handled oceans policy on the Joint Staff of the Pentagon, was among those who paid tribute to Louis Sohn of Harvard, a writer of UNCLOS who co-authored a book, World Peace Through World Law, outlining a plan for transforming the U.N. into a world government,” Kincaid reports.
Yet Dr. Moore told the crowd at Heritage that there are “reasons why conservatives should support the Law of the Sea Treaty;
“1.) Conservatives root their statements in fact; and
“2.) Conservatives are not isolationists and they are not na?ve.”
Baker Spring, who served in the Pentagon during the Reagan years when the treaty went into effect for those nations that did sign onto it, disagrees.
“Burkean conservative traditionalists” should oppose it because it violates “the principle of the nation-state,” Spring argues. He advises them to look skeptically at the “mandatory dispute settlement” provisions of LOST.
“Neo-conservatives should be concerned about anti-Americanism from the UN and the International Seabed Authority[ISA],” Spring said. “Jeanne Kirkpatrick warned against it,” Spring said, invoking the name of President Reagan’s resolutely anti-communist ambassador to the UN.
Dr. Moore points out that the ISA is a 25-year-old agency with a staff of 35 and a budget of $12 million. Libertarians should oppose LOST because it is “redistributionist and regulatory,” Spring counters.
Social conservatives should be against it because of UN policies in general and that body’s “anti-Israel/anti-Semitic drift in particular,” Spring observed.
LOST was originally rejected by President Reagan who would not sign it but observed the navigational rules contained within the treaty. As president, Bill Clinton signed it but never got a Republican Senate to ratify the treaty.
“Jesse Helms fought LOST,” Spring remembered. A conservative icon, the legendary North Carolina senator opposed the treaty when he chaired the U. S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee despite Clinton Administration efforts to appease critics of LOST. “The 1994 amendments did not improve it,” says Spring, now a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. Nor can current advocates of the treaty point to any alterations in it that would alter its basic composition.
“Bill Clinton in signing the treaty said it was great for the environment,” Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy pointed out at the Heritage event. “The Clinton Administration alone should give conservatives pause.”
Gaffney also toiled in the Reagan Administration’s Pentagon as an Undersecretary of Defense, where he first encountered LOST. “Sixty percent of the treaty has nothing to do with navigational rights,” Gaffney concluded. “A law of the sea tribunal decided its authority extends to the land in the case of Ireland’s attempt to build a nuclear power plant.”
LOST proponents do not volunteer whether the UN can collect global taxes from signatory nations. “I’m sure John will say these are merely fees,” Gaffney said at Heritage with a glance toward Dr. Moore. “Call it what you will.”
Remarkably, Gaffney’s observations match up with the claims of one of the uniformed military officers the Bush White House has dispatched to venues hither and yon to give LOST a deceptively pro-defense patina. “I support the treaty because it helps me do my job,” Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner Judge Advocate General, U.S. Coast Guard told the audience at Heritage that same morning.
As he sees it, that job description includes “interdicting migrants and drug smugglers” and “protecting sensitive environmental areas.” Indeed, the Coast Guard has been making it difficult for Cuban Boat people escaping Fidel Castro’s dictatorship to enter the United States.
Does Rear Admiral Baumgartner fit the same profile of his counterparts in the Navy? “The political leaders don’t really understand the issue, and they all listen to the lawyers,” one Navy commander told AIM’s Kincaid. “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,” he explained to AIM. “It is a tragedy.”