"UNCLOS" or "LOST" - A Bad Idea Resurfaces

Posted: May 30, 2007 12:01 AM
"UNCLOS" or "LOST" - A Bad Idea Resurfaces

No bad idea is ever completely defeated in this country, perhaps in other nations as well. I have seen bad ideas surface again and again in this country. When the right is defeated the right tends to stay defeated. I recall advocating a national right-to-work law when I worked in the Senate in the late 1970s. The member of the leadership to whom I pitched the idea exclaimed, "Oh, no. We can't do that. It was defeated in 1958." I merely was suggesting that we try to get a vote on the issue. I knew we couldn't win at that time. I went on and said "So? There is hardly anyone here who was in the Senate then." I didn't work for this Senator so I felt that I could not go further but the point remains valid. No doubt if I tried to push the idea among conservatives in the Senate to this day someone would object because his father told him that the idea had been defeated in 1958 and therefore it could not be done.

Not so with the liberals. My first encounter with the demand for gun control came in 1968. It was shortly after Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. It seemed that every man and his brother was demanding gun control. Senator Gordon L. Allott, for whom I worked, told me "Just wait around. A few months from now almost no one will be talking about gun control. I've seen it all before [when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated]. This idea comes up here again and again although if you would ask the average man on the street, he almost would never demand gun control." The good Senator was correct. He has been gone for more than 25 years, yet the issue has surfaced again and again. Most recently it has occurred following the tragic killings at the Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University, known as "Virginia Tech." With conservatives when an idea is defeated it by and large remains defeated. Does any current Senator push the Bricker Amendment?

On the other hand liberals have no hesitancy in repeatedly pushing a bad idea after it has been defeated. We have a perfect illustration of this in the current Senate. When Ronald W. Reagan took office as President, more than 25 years ago, an issue surfaced known as the Law of the Sea Treaty. I had never heard of it and must admit when it was first mentioned I didn't pay much attention. But thanks to Howard Phillips, Phyllis Schlafly and others I began to realize that this Treaty, sometimes disparagingly called "LOST," approvingly called "UNCLOS," would give our sovereignty away. That alarmed me.

Through our Coalitions efforts we began to fight this Treaty. The battle seemed helpless until some of us discussed the matter with Edwin (Ed) Meese, III, then a key member of President Reagan's White House Staff. Meese agreed that the Treaty was fatally flawed and invited the President's attention to it. President Reagan opposed it. Yet, would you believe that we still had to carry on the fight against the Treaty beyond his coming out against it. The Navy, it seems, despite Reagan's opposition, still carried on until ordered to stop. Why, you ask, would the Navy be in favor of a treaty which would have given away our sovereignty? The reason, we were told, was that the Navy believed the Treaty if ratified would make it safer for our ships to operate. Who knows, but that was the argument advanced at the time.

Once the Law of the Sea Treaty was put on ice by Reagan in the second year of his eight years in the Presidency it did not surface again. Nor did it surface during the Administration of President George H. W. Bush. After Bill Clinton was in office for two years and faced a Republican Senate he never pushed the Treaty at all.

Then came the Administration of President George W. Bush. During his first term the Treaty never was pushed. We assumed that it was dead. But during the first Congress of his second term it surfaced again. In fact, Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was so determined to push this Treaty that he permitted no opposition during the hearings. It was voted out unanimously.

Thanks to extraordinary work by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and then a commitment made by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) at our Coalitions lunch, the Law of the Sea Treaty again was put on ice. While supposedly Vice President Dick Cheney was for the Treaty, President Bush never supported it.

Now that Bush is a lameduck President and at the lowest polling rating of his Presidency (28% favorably), Bush at last has come out in favor of the Treaty. We have an uphill fight to defeat the Treaty. The Democrats are in control of the Senate and almost all of them favor the Treaty. Many of the six GOP Senators who were defeated in 2006 were opponents of the Treaty. So if Senator Inhofe is to drum up opposition he would need 35 Senators. That would be next to impossible. Whereas Majority Leader Frist kept his commitment to be against the Treaty, his successor, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has not yet taken a position of which we are aware.

Again, when conservatives are defeated they regard their defeat as final. When liberals are defeated they wait around until the next opportunity presents itself. Meanwhile, the extraordinary researcher Cliff Kincaid has produced a monograph linking global warming with the Treaty and demonstrates that if the Treaty were ratified it would be far easier to bring cases against the United States. In another paper, "The Secret Agenda behind the Law of the Sea Treaty," he says the Treaty is so extreme that former UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick stated that "it was viewed as the cornerstone of Marxist-oriented New International Economic Order." According to Kincaid, "This was conceived as a scheme to transfer money and technology from the United States and other developed countries to the Third World." He points out that Kirkpatrick strongly opposed the Law of the Sea Treaty.

According to Kincaid, the Treaty would open the U.S. up to international lawsuits and climate-change legislation, providing a back door for implementation of the ungratified and costly global warming treaty. This is because the Treaty would establish a new international legal regime, including a new international court, to govern activities on, over and under the oceans, seven-tenths of the world's surface. The provisions of the Treaty would also permit international rules and regulations governing economic and industrial activity on the remaining land area of the world in order to combat global warming and other perceived pollution dangers.

There you have it. Another bad idea, long defeated, about to be ratified unless there is a real revolt against it.