US Congress Short Memory: (Oil For Food) “Why the U.N. Shouldn’t Own the Seas”
Posted by mb50
The Law of the Sea Treaty is as harmful today as it was when Reagan and Thatcher first opposed it in 1982.DONALD RUMSFELD
Thirty years ago, President Ronald Reagan asked me to meet with world leaders to represent the United States in opposition to the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty. Our efforts soon found a persuasive supporter in British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Today, as the U.S. Senate again considers approving this flawed agreement, the Reagan-Thatcher reasons for opposition remain every bit as persuasive.
When I met with Mrs. Thatcher in 1982, her conclusion on the treaty was unforgettable: “What this treaty proposes is nothing less than the international nationalization of roughly two-thirds of the Earth’s surface.” Then, referring to her battles dismantling Britain’s state-owned mining and utility companies, she added, “And you know how I feel about nationalization. Tell Ronnie I’m with him.”
Reagan had entered office the year before with the treaty presented to him as a done deal requiring only his signature and Senate ratification. Then as now, most of the world’s nations had already approved it. The Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations had all gone along. American diplomats generally supported the treaty and were shocked when Reagan changed America’s policy. Puzzled by their reaction, the president was said to have responded, “But isn’t that what the election was all about?”
Yet, as the Gipper might have said, here we go again: An impressive coalition—including every living former secretary of State—has endorsed the Obama administration’s goal of ratifying the treaty. The U.S. Navy wants to “lock in” existing and widely accepted rules of high-seas navigation. Business groups say the treaty could help them by creating somewhat more certainty.
Can so many people, organizations and countries be mistaken? Yes. Various proponents have valid considerations, but none has made a compelling case that the treaty would, on balance, benefit America as a whole.
Though a 1994 agreement (signed by some but not all parties to the treaty) fixed some of its original flaws, the treaty remains a sweeping power grab that could prove to be the largest mechanism for the world-wide redistribution of wealth in human history.
The treaty proposes to create a new global governance institution that would regulate American citizens and businesses without being accountable politically to the American people. Some treaty proponents pay little attention to constitutional concerns about democratic legislative processes and principles of self-government, but I believe the American people take seriously such threats to the foundations of our nation.
The treaty creates a United Nations-style body called the “International Seabed Authority.” “The Authority,” as U.N. bureaucrats call it in Orwellian shorthand, would be involved in all commercial activity in international waters, such as mining and oil and gas production. Pursuant to the treaty’s Article 82, the U.S. would be required to transfer to this entity a significant share of all royalties generated by U.S. companies—royalties that would otherwise go to the U.S. Treasury.
Over time, hundreds of billions of dollars could flow through the Authority with little oversight. The U.S. would not control how those revenues are spent: The treaty empowers the Authority to redistribute these so-called international royalties to developing and landlocked nations with no role in exploring or extracting those resources.
This would constitute massive global welfare, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. It would be as if fishermen who exerted themselves to catch fish on the high seas were required, on the principle that those fish belonged to all people everywhere, to give a share of their take to countries that had nothing to do with their costly, dangerous and arduous efforts.
Worse still, these sizable “royalties” could go to corrupt dictatorships and state sponsors of terrorism. For example, as a treaty signatory and a member of the Authority’s executive council, the government of Sudan—which has harbored terrorists and conducted a mass extermination campaign against its own people—would have as much say as the U.S. on issues to be decided by the Authority.
Disagreements among treaty signatories are to be decided through mandatory dispute-resolution processes of uncertain integrity. Americans should be uncomfortable with unelected and unaccountable tribunals appointed by the secretary-general of the United Nations serving as the final arbiter of such disagreements.
Even if one were to agree with the principle of global wealth redistribution from the U.S. to other nations, other U.N. bodies have proven notably unskilled at financial management. The U.N. Oil for Food program in Iraq, for instance, resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in corruption and graft that directly benefited Saddam Hussein and his allies. The Law of the Sea Treaty is an opportunity for scandal on an even larger scale.
The most persuasive argument for the treaty is the U.S. Navy’s desire to shore up international navigation rights. It is true that the treaty might produce some benefits, clarifying some principles and perhaps making it easier to resolve certain disputes. But our Navy has done quite well without this treaty for the past 200 years, relying often on centuries-old, well-established customary international law to assert navigational rights. Ultimately, it is our naval power that protects international freedom of navigation. This treaty would not make a large enough additional contribution to counterbalance the problems it would create.
In his farewell address to the nation in 1988, Reagan advised the country: “Don’t be afraid to see what you see.” If the members of the U.S. Senate fulfill their responsibilities, read the Law of the Sea Treaty and consider it carefully, I believe they will come to the conclusion that its costs to our security and sovereignty would far exceed any benefits.
Mr. Rumsfeld was secretary of defense from 1975 to 1977 and from 2001 to 2006. He is author of “Known and Unknown: A Memoir” (Sentinel, 2011).
A version of this article appeared June 13, 2012, on page A15 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Why the U.N. Shouldn’t Own the Seas.
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Posted on June 17, 2012, in Agenda 21, AMERICAS, Energy, Fraud & Corruption, GEOPOLITICS, LOST, North America, Oil, Oil & Gas - offshore, One and Done, Progressive Agenda, Rio + 20, Robin Hood Tax, Tax Payer's Dime, United States and tagged British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher., International Seabed Authority, Law of the Sea Treaty, President Ronald Reagan, Reagan, Ronald Reagan, United Nation, United Nations, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, United States, US Navy. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on US Congress Short Memory: (Oil For Food) “Why the U.N. Shouldn’t Own the Seas”.
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