The Weekly Gaff and John Warner’s Wisdom


This is the second “Weekly Gaff,” a feature inspired by Frank Gaffney, who has engineered a campaign of misinformation in the pages of the Washington Times. In last week’s edition, we touched on treaty arch-enemy Senator Jim Inhofe’s attempt to “retrofit unilateralism” and his concession that the arguments against the treaty aren’t actually true.
This week, Gaffney only mentions the Law of the Sea as one of many instances of President Bush’s selling out conservatives. He says the Law of the Sea would subject the U.S. to international tribunals, which is demonstrably false. I’ve explained that briefly here. It is explained further in this Duke University policy brief. And Senator Inhofe even conceded as much here.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration and Senator John Warner, who was the Secretary of Defense’s representative for the framework talks on the Law of the Sea, both posted statements yesterday commending the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for favorably voting out the Law of the Sea. Warner is a thoughtful man whom the Senate will miss. While some senators are willing to sacrifice national security and prosperity to pander to the John Bolton and Frank Gaffney types, others, like Senator Warner, are sticking to their principles. His statement is below the fold.

As you may know, I was the representative for the Secretary of Defense to the framework talks for United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in Geneva from 1969 to 1973. The main principles behind UNCLOS have been supported by every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan. Foremost among these principles is a fulfillment of U.S. interests in having a comprehensive legal framework relating to competing uses of the world’s oceans. However, there were several provisions of the original agreement that were unacceptable to the United States, including provisions relating to deep seabed mining that were inconsistent with free market principles. These concerns were addressed to the satisfaction of the United States in the formulation of a 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention. As a result, President Clinton transmitted both the Convention and the 1994 Agreement to Congress for advice and consent in 1994, but the Senate did not act on the Treaty at that time. Both agreements are in effect based on ratification by other signatory countries. But without U.S. ratification, the United States is unable to participate in implementation of the Convention.
President Bush has requested that the Senate approve the treaty. On February 25, 2004, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously reported the 1982 U.N. Law of the Sea Convention and 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention to the Senate for consideration. On May 15, 2007, the President renewed his call for ratification of the Convention. He urged the Senate to pass the Convention by the two-thirds majority needed for approval of a treaty and on October 31, 2007, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the matter and voted the treaty out favorably with a bi-partisan vote of 17 to 4. The Senate Majority leader will now determine when the treaty will be brought before the full Senate.
Of further note, I chaired a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Convention on April 19, 2005. Based on testimony presented at that hearing, I am convinced that the Convention is compatible with the interests of our Armed Forces and enhances, rather than undermines, our national security by providing for the sovereign immunity of warships and right of travel. Then Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark testified that the Treaty does not require the United States military to get a “permission slip” to operate around the world, nor would it compromise intelligence capabilities. Instead, according to Admiral Clark, it will help provide the “strategic mobility needed to fight the war on terrorism.” In fact, the Navy already exercises many of the tenets of the Treaty during current operations.
I have concluded that, in addition to its military value, the Convention will also provide economic benefits to the United States in the form of full and legal access to over 370,000 square miles of our seabed natural resources, while ensuring that the world’s oceans are clean and marine life is protected from harm. Therefore, I support the timely passage and ratification of this important treaty.

— Scott Paul


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