Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lost on LOST?

Me? Not anymore - let me explain.

First, the closest you can find to where I stand is the 12 DEC 07 article in The Washington Times by Ken Adelman.
The tranquil-sounding Law of the Sea (LOS) treaty somehow prompts lots of waves. The first storm arose 25 years ago, when President Reagan had the U.S. virtually stand alone against it.

The issue is back. It's still controversial, as Senate Republican leaders oppose ratification. Conservative stalwarts Ed Meese and Bill Clark feel its approval would betray the Reagan legacy.
Would it really?
The LOS accord, just sent out of committee, stands before the Senate for a vote this month. The Senate should ratify it — partly on the merits, but also to reinforce Reagan's biggest legacy, that standing alone on principle can pay off. If you stand right on the merits, eventually others come around.

In 1982, Reagan turned the tide on the LOS effort, under way by some 150 countries over the previous 10 years. During a few National Security Council meetings — which I attended as deputy to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick's — Reagan called the deep-sea mining provisions global socialism.
Good enough reason for me, but....
In his Jan. 29, 1982, document on LOS, Reagan listed these very issues in six bullets. He explicitly pledged that, if the LOS negotiators "find ways to fulfill these key objectives, my administration will support ratification."

Subsequent administrations have found ways. The first Bush administration began fixing Reagan's biggest bugaboo, the deep seabed mining provisions, which the Clinton team deftly completed. This Bush administration devised critical understandings to clarify and protect U.S. national interests.

The LOS convention has already been joined by 154 nations. Companies from members Canada, Australia and Germany have licenses for deep-sea mining while U.S. companies wait and support ratification here.

Reagan's "key objectives" have been met, as free market principles now apply to deep-sea mining. Private firms can mine the minerals, with the legal assurances they need for large-scale, long-term investments. American firms would have their claims protected.

Gone is any mandatory technology transfer. Gone is any bulk-up of multilateral institutions. Gone is key decisionmaking without U.S. participation. With ratification comes a permanent U.S. seat on the decisionmaking body, with veto power on all key issues.

Again, don't just take my word for it. Because Reagan's fixes were made, both his secretaries of state — Alexander M. Haig Jr. and George P. Shultz — switched from opposing to backing LOS ratification. As has Reagan's Chief of Staff and President H.W. Bush's Secretary of State James Baker. Likewise for this President Bush's two secretaries of state, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.
More good reasons in the article - you should read it all.

Once a skeptic, now I think it is time to "..listen to the JAG." Go to the bottom of their page, follow the links, and do a little reading.

In general, those who are most aggressive in their opposition fall into four different groups:
  1. Just plain don't like multi-lateral treaties. Sam-I-Am, do no like them
  2. Are stuck on the '83 treaty and are not fully up to speed on the '94 changes.
  3. Have only had the chance to read stuff written by those wrapped up in #1 and #2, because they have not read the primary source information.
  4. General all around cranks that hate everything after the Spanish-American War.
I was in group 3. There is some clever advocacy out there, so read carefully - but read fully. I am not a believer in dark conspiracies - and 99.9% of the time the DoD has some very smart, good people doing hard work for $.20 on the dollar. Lean on those people for the tough questions.

In the end, my concerns has always been national security and our ability to do what needs to be done without Lawfare getting in the way of the right thing. To that end, Article 298.1.b - at least for me, answers the mail.
1. When signing, ratifying or acceding to this Convention or at any time thereafter, a State may, without prejudice to the obligations arising under section 1, declare in writing that it does not accept any one or more of the procedures provided for in section 2 with respect to one or more of the following categories of disputes:
(b) disputes concerning military activities, including military activities by government vessels and aircraft engaged in non-commercial service, and disputes concerning law enforcement activities in regard to the exercise of sovereign rights or jurisdiction excluded from the jurisdiction of a court or tribunal under article 297, paragraph 2 or 3;
Th'ar's yer veto. 51% - it tilts to the JAGs.

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