Some things are quintessentially American. Consider the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips by Navy SEALs.
Bobbing on the open ocean, our servicemen required just three shots to kill three pirates almost simultaneously. It was an audacious display of marksmanship and skill. Few other nations could even dream of mounting such a rescue, let alone pull it off seamlessly.
So why are many of our leaders intent on compromising our military’s ability to act decisively and effectively at sea?
For years, activists have been encouraging the United States to sign the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), a measure rightly vetoed by President Reagan decades ago and rejected by American leaders ever since. Now, the treaty has a friend in the White House.
“I will work actively to ensure that the U.S. ratifies the Law of the Sea Convention,” candidate Barack Obama told the group “Scientists & Engineers for America” last year. He called the treaty “an agreement supported by more than 150 countries that will protect our economic and security interests while providing an important international collaboration to protect the oceans and its resources.”
The treaty purports to protect the world’s oceans. Ironically, though, it could make the high seas even more dangerous.
LOST would create a new U.N. bureaucracy called the International Seabed Authority Secretariat. How effective would the Secretariat be when it comes to security issues? Look no further than the U.N.’s toothless response to North Korea’s recent missile launch.
Pyongyang’s actions clearly violated a 2006 U.N. resolution that barred it from firing ballistic missiles. How did the world body respond? The U.N. Secretary-General said the launch was “not conducive to efforts to promote dialogue, regional peace and stability.” No kidding, Dirty Harry. The Security Council, meanwhile, mildly condemned the launch and told North Korea not to do it again.
And the North Koreans? They simply declared they would restart their nuclear program. “We have no choice but to further strengthen our nuclear deterrent to cope with additional military threats by hostile forces,” the country’s Foreign Ministry announced.
There’s no reason to expect the U.N. to do a better job of deterring pirates than it does deterring North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. In fact, it’s likely to be even more ineffective against ocean raiders than it is against atomic rogue states.