The globalists legislation is like vampires, evil beings that just won’t die and it’s just as damning for the land of the free.
By MARK LANDLER Published: May 23, 2012
WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican, joked that he was witnessing “sort of a Lazarus moment.” On that score, at least, Mr. Corker got no quarrel from his Democratic colleagues.
Doug Mills/The New York Times
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
Thirty years after it was signed in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the United Nations treaty that governs the world’s oceans is undergoing one of its periodic resurrections in Congress. A Senate committee on Wednesday summoned three top national security officials to make yet another plea for the agreement, in the face of narrow, but stubborn, opposition.
The Senate has never ratified the treaty, despite the support of Republican and Democratic presidents, the Pentagon, environmental advocates, the oil and gas industry — virtually anyone who deals “with oceans on a daily basis,” in the words of Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the Republican who recently lost a primary, who is a supporter.
So long has the “Law of the Sea” treaty been stalled on Capitol Hill that its opponents — a handful of conservative Republicans who view it as an infringement on American sovereignty — have taken to calling it “LOST, ” an uncharitable, if apt, acronym.
Now, though, Senator John F. Kerry, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, sees another chance to push through a treaty last debated in 2007. In the first of a series of hearings, he enlisted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to help make the case — allowing them to argue that the treaty is increasingly important to deal with such issues as fraught relations over the South China Sea.
The treaty, ratified by 162 states and the European Union, codifies rules for the use of the oceans and maritime resources. Among its provisions, it allows countries to exploit the continental shelf, in some cases extending more than 200 miles from shore.
“Whatever arguments may have existed for delaying U.S. accession no longer exist and truly cannot even be taken with a straight face,” Mrs. Clinton said, noting that some critics still seem to believe that because the treaty was negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations, “the black helicopters are on their way.”
By refusing to ratify the treaty, Mrs. Clinton said, the United States could fail to exploit untapped oil and gas deposits buried beneath the offshore seabed. It could lose out to Russia, Norway and other countries in staking claims to the Arctic Ocean, where melting ice is opening up untold mineral riches. And it could lose credibility in reining in China’s maritime ambitions in the South China Sea.
Mr. Panetta and General Dempsey zeroed in on the national security benefits, arguing that by instituting rules and a mechanism for resolving disputes, the treaty reduces the threat of conflict in hot spots like the South China Sea and the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has threatened to shut down in retaliation for oil sanctions.
“Frankly, I don’t think this is a close call,” Mr. Panetta said.
Several Republicans agree it is a clear choice: they say the treaty ought to be mothballed for good. Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, complained that under the terms of the agreement, the United States would have to transfer billions of dollars in royalties from oil and gas production on the continental shelf to an international authority, which would redistribute the money to less developed countries.
Senator James Risch of Idaho said it would oblige the United States to adhere to international agreements to stem greenhouse gas emissions. “That’s got Kyoto written all over it,” he said, referring to the climate change treaty rejected by the United States.
Mr. Risch seemed particularly rankled by Mrs. Clinton’s contention that the treaty’s opponents were driven by “ideology and mythology,” not facts. “I hope you weren’t scoffing at us,” he said. “I’m one of those that fall into that category.”
Mr. Corker, while saying he had an open mind, suggested that there was more than a bit of politics in the timing of the treaty’s reappearance. If Republicans win the Senate, Democrats would find it even harder to win approval in the next Congress.
Despite sending a marquee delegation to testify before Congress, the White House has not exactly championed the treaty, certainly not like the New Start arms reduction treaty with Russia, which was pushed ardently by President Obama.
For his part, Mr. Kerry promised to keep the debate away from the “hurly-burly of presidential politics” by delaying a vote until after the election. Still, for Mr. Kerry, whose name is on the shortlist of candidates to succeed Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state in any second Obama term, ratifying the Law of the Sea would be “a huge feather in his cap,” said Steven Groves, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who has argued against the treaty.