As noteworthy as what President Bush said in this and similar passages of his remarkable second inaugural is what he did not say. In particular, he did not declare the force upon which we must increasingly depend for ?the survival of liberty in our land? to be the United Nations or multilateralism or supranational government.
Rather, Mr. Bush said the critical determinant of our future well-being will be the ?success of liberty in other lands.? And that success will depend in no small measure on the United States playing the role that its history, values and vital interests have made it uniquely suited to play:
From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.
Again, the President did not suggest that the United Nations or its sister organizations can be counted on to meet ?the calling of our time.? Instead, he pledged that, ?All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.?
Not since Ronald Reagan occupied the Oval Office has the world been treated to such an unapologetic enunciation of American exceptionalism or such an unvarnished assessment of the futility of expecting others ? most especially international organizations in which tyrannical oppressors are well-represented ? to stand with the oppressed.
Importantly, Mr. Bush made plain that such support would not be simply rhetorical. Although he acknowledged ?America's influence is not unlimited,? the President went on to observe that, ?Fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.?
For the United States to be able to exercise influence ?in freedom?s cause,? however, it must preserve the sovereignty and wherewithal to act, despite predictable opposition from despot-dominated UN councils ? in league with others if possible, unilaterally if necessary.
Incredibly, even as President Bush was preparing his call for an American foreign policy that would resist tyrants ? not rely on organizations they and their friends effectively control ? his Administration was being committed to the ratification ?as soon as possible? of a treaty that would give unprecedented power to just such an organization.
The treaty in question is the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (better known as the Law of the Sea Treaty, or LOST). It was drafted over twenty years ago at the behest of Soviet bloc and ?non-aligned? nations to serve as the centerpiece of their so-called ?New International Economic Order,? a scheme to transfer wealth from the industrialized world to the developing one.
Ronald Reagan objected to LOST?s creation of a supranational agency to govern the world?s oceans at the expense of U.S. sovereignty and America?s capacity to utilize and assure freedom of the seas. When American concerns were ignored or simply voted down, he refused to sign the accord.
The treaty has not improved with age, despite claims by its supporters that Mr. Reagan?s objections have subsequently been addressed. For example, it still allows an international organization for the first time to collect revenues from American taxpayers as the price for permission to exploit the world?s seabeds.
LOST would also still infringe in significant ways on the movement and activities of U.S. military and intelligence operations at sea. It would still oblige the U.S. to transfer sensitive data and technology to potentially hostile nations. And some LOST member states, including Communist China, insist that the treaty prohibits President Bush?s Proliferation Security Initiative ? a vital ?coalition of the willing? effort to counter the sea-borne spread of weapons of mass destruction to terrorists and their state-sponsors.
Yet, despite these and numerous other problems, Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice last week responded to pressure from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (Republican of Indiana) by saying, ?the convention as it now stands serves our national security interests, serves our economic interests?and we very much want to see it go into force.?
As a result of that endorsement, Sen. Lugar is expected shortly to try to get his committee to recommend Senate ?advice and consent? to the Law of the Sea Treaty. LOST?s ratification would not only make the United States subject to a seriously defective accord and its hostile-majority-ruled institutions. It would also give unwarranted new legitimacy, precedents and power to the bloated, scandal-ridden and oppressor-dominated United Nations and international organizations it has spawned.
Senators who subscribe to President Bush?s vision of an America made more secure by ?the expansion of freedom in all the world? must prevent this expansion from being diminished, if not LOST, at sea.