Accuracy in Media

If and when Rupert Murdoch starts cleaning house at the Wall Street Journal, he ought to take a hard look at Neil King Jr., who has an article in the August 22 issue that completely misleads readers of the paper about the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), coming before the Senate next month. The thrust of the article is that the treaty is one of the most wonderful things in the world and that everybody is backing it except for a few conservatives.  

This article, unfortunately, is typical of the liberal media treatment of the issue. It reflects everything that is wrong with the media today, including bias and laziness. King offers no facts about where the treaty came from. For example, how many people know that one of the brains behind the treaty was a Harvard Law Professor, Louis Sohn, who believed in world government? And that Sohn favored a world government with hundreds of thousands of troops, nuclear weapons, and military bases around the world? And that Sohn was a major influence on the current Yale Law School Dean who could become President Hillary Clinton’s first nomination to the Supreme Court?

The hard facts about Louis Sohn’s drafting of the treaty can be found in a new report entitled “Will the Senate Be Told the Truth About the Law of the Sea Treaty?” Not surprisingly, my report notes that Sohn and communist spy Alger Hiss were major figures behind the creation of the United Nations itself. Both Sohn and Hiss worked for the U.S. State Department. Sohn died in 2006 but he can safely be counted among the current and former “diplomats” cited in the King article who have been promoting Senate ratification of the pact for many years. They are the ones, King says, who pressured President Bush to endorse it. 

There are several major inaccuracies in King’s article. He states that “Policy makers in Washington have generally been slow to champion the treaty. President Reagan opposed the original pact’s undersea-mining rules as biased against U.S. interests, a position that still carries much weight with many conservatives. President Clinton signed the treaty after those rules were amended, but the Republican-controlled Senate refused to go along. In 2004, the measure withered again on Capitol Hill.”

The claim that the “rules were amended” is false. While a separate side agreement was made in 1994, supposedly to mollify some American concerns, the treaty does not recognize its validity. 

King writes that “The treaty is now the world’s primary legal blueprint for what constitutes international waters and airspace.” This is false, too. As long as the U.S. refuses to be a party to it, the treaty can’t affect or restrict the activities of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard or those U.S. corporations which stake claims to oil and gas and minerals in international waters.    

So why are the Navy and Coast Guard backing the measure? Simply put, the number of U.S. ships has declined to such an extent that their current leaders apparently think a piece of paper with a U.N. stamp of approval on it will offer some sort of protection for U.S. interests around the world. My report notes that a top international lawyer in the Defense Department was one of those paying tribute to Louis Sohn at a special academic event. 

Sadly, the policy of “peace through strength” pursued by President Reagan has now become one of reliance on the U.N. when it comes to oceans policy. Our Navy and Coast Guard officers, under the influence of international lawyers in their Judge Advocate General offices, have thrown their lot in with that long-time foe of American national interests, the United Nations. 

This can be seen in a quotation that King attributes to Rear Adm. Bruce MacDonald, the Navy’s judge advocate general. “We need this treaty to lock in the rights we already have,” he says. This statement speaks volumes. How low have we sunk that we need a treaty to “lock in” the rights that our ships used to assert on the high seas? How does a piece of paper “lock in” our rights anyway when the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is dominated by members of the U.N. opposed to our interests? Whatever happened to the ability of U.S Navy and Coast Guard ships to protect our interests? 

Rather than ratify this treaty, many conservatives believe we ought to embark on a massive shipbuilding program. The number of U.S. ships has declined to 276, from a high of 594 under Reagan. Do we really want to depend on international lawyers and foreign judges to protect American interests? 

King writes that “Administration officials also argue that Washington’s failure to sign on to the treaty has, in fact, undercut the Proliferation Security Initiative, a U.S. effort to enlist international help to cut off shipments of nuclear and missile technology to countries such as Iran or North Korea.”

This is what some of the international lawyers from the Navy are saying. But they have failed to take into account the fact that the treaty and its tribunal of foreign judges will decide what constitutes “military” and “peaceful” activities and what is allowable in international waters. The treaty is a trap. This pact will enable foreign judges to determine what the U.S. can do on the high seas. Such an outcome could completely undermine the Proliferation Security Initiative. 

Finally, King reports that “Others argue that the U.S. is already losing out in what promises to be a multibillion-dollar opportunity: the undersea mining of copper, zinc, cobalt and even diamonds. John Norton Moore, a top legal expert on the law of the sea at the University of Virginia, said Russian and Chinese firms have already laid claim to some of the biggest undersea mines in the world. Without joining the treaty, the U.S. has no forum in which to stake a claim.”

Consider the statement, provided as a matter of fact, that “Without joining the treaty, the U.S. has no forum in which to stake a claim.” This is absolutely false. 

The U.S. doesn’t need a “forum,” certainly not one under the auspices of the U.N., to make such a claim. U.S. claims have already been made to oil and gas and minerals in the Arctic and Pacific Oceans by U.S. companies. I discuss them in my report. In addition, American explorers staked a claim to the North Pole itself, long before the Russians got there. In fact, ratification of the treaty could easily backfire in this regard, giving the U.N. the opportunity to turn over what is rightfully ours to the Russians and others. In that case, we would be stuck, after having ratified a treaty that many conservatives have been consistently warning would work against our interests. Billions of dollars of arctic riches are at stake.   

The American people need to catch on fast to what’s going on. The Wall Street Journal has become a mouthpiece for the special interests pushing the treaty. There isn’t much time left for the American people to register their opinions on this matter.

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