Gaffney Plus Washington Times Equals Hilarity

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russian_claim.jpg
I’m honestly not sure which is more hysterical: Frank Gaffney’s most recent Washington Times column, which argues that the Russians laid claim to the North Pole in a cunning gambit to corner the U.S. into ratifying the Law of the Sea convention; or the Times’ decision to print his ridiculous column even though it was published – verbatim – on another site the previous day.
I’ve held my fire since reports first emerged of a Russian submarine symbolically planting a titanium flag at the North Pole. I’m naturally interested in all things related to Russia and ocean law, but I kept quiet. After reading Gaffney’s column – twice – I simply can’t choke back the laughter.
Under the terms of the Law of the Sea, each State Party enjoys an Exclusive Economic Zone that extends 200 miles off of its coast. If a State Party’s continental shelf extends beyond this area, it can claim exclusive rights there too.
Russia is essentially saying that the North Pole (specifically, the Lomonosov Ridge that cuts the Arctic circle in half) is part of its extended continental shelf. Other Arctic countries that have ratified the Law of the Sea can dispute this claim, as surely they will. None of this, by the way, is a surprise: when my colleagues and I were drafting our Law of the Sea fact sheet earlier this year, we suggested in an early draft that by refusing to ratify, the U.S. would miss out on “the great Arctic land grab” (the phrase was imprecise and alarmist, so we removed it from later versions).
As the State Department acknowledges, this is just one of many compelling reasons to ratify the treaty. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Senator Mel Martinez, Chairman of the Republican Party, has come on board, too.
But Frank Gaffney thinks this is just a secret ploy by the Russians:

Two deep-ocean submersibles were dispatched to the Arctic floor ostensibly for the purpose of laying claim to the Lomonosov Ridge – and, more importantly, to the potentially vast oil, gas and mineral resources that may lie within a zone 200 miles wide on either side of that underwater mountain range. This move may have been a grandmaster’s feint, however, masking another purpose: blackmailing the United States into ratifying the defective Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST).

Yes, according to Gaffney, extensive deposits of oil and gas are just decoys, distracting from the Russians’ real and dastardly goal: to force the U.S. to ratify a treaty with which it already complies and that its President supports.
This makes even less sense than Gaffney’s America: World Police-like proposal that force (or the threat of force) be used to the protect deep seabed mining activities of U.S. firms as an alternative to the legal framework provided by the Law of the Sea.
Gaffney’s column in the Times is entitled “Lost at Seize.” He also wrote a column called “Russian L.O.S.T. and Found” that was published yesterday on renewamerica.us, a site that supports “the “Declarationist” ideals of Alan Keyes.” Here’s what he wrote on that site:

Two deep-ocean submersibles were dispatched to the Arctic floor ostensibly for the purpose of laying claim to the Lomonosov Ridge – and, more importantly, to the potentially vast oil, gas and mineral resources that may lie within a zone 200 miles wide on either side of that underwater mountain range. This move may have been a grandmaster’s feint, however, masking another purpose: blackmailing the United States into ratifying the defective Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST).

In case you’re wondering, that wasn’t a typo: the passages are identical. In fact, Gaffney’s entire August 7 column in the Washington Times is a re-print of his August 6 column on renewamerica.us (precisely one word was changed).
Apparently, the Washington Times is about as interested in obtaining original, exclusive submissions from its columnists as Gaffney is in…well…the facts.
— Scott Paul
Note: This is not the first of Frank Gaffney’s columns that the Washington Times has reprinted a day after it’s gone up on renewamerica.us. STP
Another Note: I almost forgot the most hysterical part of this whole business. Opposite Gaffney’s column, the Washington Times published a column on the Russian claim by Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation, who writes:

“To stop the expansion, the U.S. should encourage its friends and allies – Canada, Denmark and Norway – to pursue their claims in the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. While the United Sates has not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), other Arctic countries, including Norway and Denmark, have filed their own claims with the Commission, opposing Russian demands.”

Keeps getting better and better. STP

Comments

4 comments on “Gaffney Plus Washington Times Equals Hilarity

  1. tzs says:

    Could someone please lock this clown in a room with the collected writings of Grotius?

    Reply

  2. Dan Kervick says:

    It’s interesting how fond the the wingers are of the word “blackmail”. They seem to use it in places others would just use the term “influence”, provide an incentive” or “cause”, as in:
    “By raising the tariff on steel, country X blackmailed country Y into raising their import quotas on sugar.”
    “By signaling their intention to veto the first draft resolution, country A blackmailed country B into withdrawing the first draft and compromising on the proposed amendments.”
    In the chiaroscuro graphic novel world of neoconservative pulp fantasy, it seems the varieties of influence and incentive do not exist along a fine spectrum of degrees, but come in only two kinds: dominance and submission. One is either being forced or blackmailed into submission by others, or doing the blackmailing oneself.
    I’ll assume Scott is correct that neither the Russian flag-planting move nor its timing had anything at all to do with Russian desires to get the US to ratify the Law of the Sea convention. But if part of the reason for the timing of the arctic flag-planting *had been* to provide the US Senate with a timely incentive to ratify the Law of the Sea, I would say “Thank you, thank you Russia for giving our Senate a kick in the pants.”
    Of course, I myself am somewhat in favor of a certain degree of “supranational and socialist arrangements” designed to preserve “international commons” and slow down imperial dispossession and the conversion of the global inheritance into private property.

    Reply

  3. Cracker Copeland says:

    That Daffy Gaffney is such a hoot! What an hysterically funny guy. Old Daffy doesn’t like Muslims and old Daffy doesn’t like Russians and old Daffy doesn’t like, well, just about everybody. Facts have NEVER been an issue for old Daffy. Never and will never. However old Daffy is one funny guy, yes he is.

    Reply

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