Bill Steigerwald

Ronald Reagan rejected the United Nations' Convention on the Law of the Sea 25 years ago, but the 202-page treaty generally known by its acronym LOST will not die. Reagan didn't like LOST -- which its conservative critics say would compromise U.S. sovereignty and cede control of the oil, gas and mineral riches of the deepest seabeds to U.N. bureaucrats -- because it was so obviously collectivist, redistributionist, bureaucratic and antithetical to American economic and military interests.

But the Bush administration, the Pentagon and many large mining companies are pushing for the United States to join the 155 countries that have ratified LOST. As Sen. Joe Biden prepares to hold Senate hearings on the Law of the Sea Treaty on Thursday, Sept. 27, we called one of its chief opponents, Cliff Kincaid, president of America's Survival Inc. ( to find out why Reagan was right and President Bush is wrong about LOST:

=Q: What is the Law of the Sea Treaty?

=A: This treaty is the biggest giveaway of American sovereignty and resources since the Panama Canal Treaty. It gives the United Nations bureaucracy control over the oceans of the world -- seven-tenths of the world’s surface. It sets up an International Seabed Authority to decide who gets access to oil, gas and minerals in international waters. The companies that get those rights to harvest those resources have to pay a global tax to the International Seabed Authority.

=Q: Where did this treaty come from?

=A: This treaty was negotiated and written by socialists and world-government advocates, mainly under the Jimmy Carter administration. It was so bad that President Reagan flatly rejected it.

=Q: What does the treaty do that is good or beneficial or necessary?

=A: Some people say it guarantees freedom of navigation on the high seas but that is a matter of dispute. The treaty says the oceans have to be reserved for peaceful purposes. That would appear to give the foreign judges who run the International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas, another institution set up by this treaty, the authority to decide what is peaceful and what is not. That is why opponents of the treaty fear that it could be used to inhibit and restrict U.S. military activities on the high seas.

=Q: Gathering intelligence, opening sea lanes, seizing terrorist -- all of those?

=A: All of those activities are potentially at risk and can be seen by these foreign judges as possible violations of the Law of the Sea Treaty.

=Q: Some supporters of the treaty say it contains no mention of a tax at all?

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a former L.A. Times copy editor and free-lancer who also worked as a docudrama researcher for CBS-TV in Hollywood before becoming a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bill Steigerwald recently retired from daily newspaper journalism..