It turns out that John Bolton’s recent lobbying against the Law of the Sea represents a major flip-flop.
I’ve known about this exchange for quite a while, but it doesn’t commit Bolton to personal support of the treaty:
BOLTON: The administration has submitted the Law of the Sea Treaty as one of its priorities, and I support that.
SARBANES: Simply because it’s an administration position, or does that represent your own view of it?
BOLTON: Well, I haven’t personally read the Law of the Sea Treaty. I don’t think I’ve ever read it, to be honest with you.
Of course, administration appointees are required to support administration policy. But I recently came across another exchange, in which Bolton substantially undermines the most common policy-grounded objections to the convention. It goes well beyond the basic level of support that is compulsory for administration officials and indicates that he at some point did read and endorse the Law of the Sea.
Here’s what he had to say at his confirmation hearing on April 11, 2005:
LUGAR: [D]o you see any potential entanglement of the United States with the Law of the Sea Treaty and loss of sovereignty to the U.N. or to any other world body?
BOLTON: No, I don’t see that the Law of the Sea Treaty implicates the United Nations in any material respect. And those that have gone over the question of the seabed conclude there’s no risk of taxation or anything like that.
As I say, my own review and that of the bureaus that report to me was on the importance that our military attached to it.
I will say, perhaps, one related point. A number of people have asked about the relationship of the Law of the Sea Treaty to the Proliferation Security Initiative.
And you know, I don’t think that if the Senate were to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty and the president were to make the treaty, that it would have any negative impact whatsoever on PSI.
One of the things the PSI statement of interdiction principle says very clearly is that any actions taken pursuant to PSI would be done in accordance with existing national and international authority.
And of course all of our other core group members of the PSI are states party to the Law of the Sea Treaty.
We would not ask them, obviously, to do anything that would violate their obligations. And so, in effect, we built that into the PSI base as it were.
Confirmation conversion, anyone?
If he keeps up his scorched earth policy and his flip flopping, Bolton’s credibility will head into a downward spiral right on time for his upcoming book release.
On a related note — that is, related to Law of the Sea opponents embarrassing themselves — the most visible Law of the Sea opponents had scheduled a “telephone press conference” for this morning. I just found out it was canceled for lack of interest.
There’s a lesson here for Bolton: when you’re consistently inconsistent, or just plain absurd, people stop paying attention to you.
— Scott Paul
Note: As I wrote earlier, Dick Lugar’s opening statement at yesterday’s Law of the Sea hearing finally exposed the right-wing hypocrisy on the Law of the Sea and the Iraq war. It’s now up on his site. Everyone should read it.