When I've written about the UN law of the sea treaty, I've focused on the insanisty of saying our Navy needs it when we've done fine without it all these decades and for decades before it was even written. Backed by our powerful Navy, we've defended freedom of the seas. And without a powerful Navy, we won't have freedom of navigation no matter what we say LOST says. Former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld puts it well:
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.
The second part of the argument against the treaty is the right it gives the world to tax and regulate our own economy. Again, Rumsfeld:
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.
And it isn't just about navigation rights at sea and sending our money to despots around the globe who will have rights to out-vote us. Our courts will be side-lined for anyone wanting to challenge us on land, too:
Lawsuits could be launched against American businesses nowhere near an ocean. Section 207, “Pollution from land based sources,” requires that members “shall adopt laws and regulations” to prevent, among other things, “global warming” and increasing ocean acidity. So if the Authority thinks an electric-power facility in West Virginia is causing climate change, a lawsuit can be launched to shut it down.
Such cases would be heard not by American courts but by international tribunals. Decisions would be legally enforceable with no possibility of appeal. In other words, the judgment of a “Seabed Chamber” would have the same legal authority as the judgment of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Oh, and don't forget that if you think the law of the sea will help resolve pressing problems like whether China can assert control over the South China Sea, it will not. The South China Sea disputes are mostly over who controls bits of land that allow assertion of sea control around them. LOST has nothing to say about who owns those bits of land--and not enough about whose interpretation of LOST holds sway. Already, China's interpretation of what LOST allows and forbids is different from our traditional view of freedom of navigation.
The treaty would be worse than useless by pretending to provide an excuse to reduce our Navy, by sending our money to other countries all over the world with no say on what they do with it, and subjecting our people to courts that are alien to our system of justice.
So of course the Obama administration is trying to animate this undead treaty that walks among us still and seeks to make us just one of many in the sainted international community--no better and no worse and with no more rights than anyone else.
Kill this treaty. Is our Senate really insane enough to shoot ourselves in the foot by ratifying it?