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By Cliff Kincaid

November 2, 2007

As predicted, the big guns of the liberal media are unloading on critics of the U.N.’s Law of the Sea Treaty. After ignoring the story of growing opposition to the pact from the American people, the New York Times and the Washington Post both have editorials in their Wednesday papers urging ratification.

Since their arguments are full of holes, both papers resort to name-calling, with the Times editorial labeling the critics as “cranky right-wingers” and the Post declaring that opponents of the accord have “irrational fears about one-worldism.”

The liberal media establishment has spoken. Will the Senate listen to the liberal media or the people?

In the same way that the people let the media and the politicians know they did not want an illegal alien amnesty bill, members of the Senate and Republican presidential candidates are starting to get the message that this U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty must not be ratified. All of the Senate Republican leadership and all of the Republican presidential candidates have expressed opposition to the treaty, especially its provisions for new U.N. bureaucracies.

This “people power” is clearly one reason why Senator John McCain, who once supported the pact, now calls it a threat to U.S. sovereignty and says he would vote against it. An account of McCain’s flip-flop on this matter appears in a Washington Times story by Stephen Dinan. McCain, a much-decorated Navy veteran, should have been a natural opponent of the pact from the start. He must know in his heart that the only way for the U.S. to remain a superpower on the high seas is to have the strongest Navy in the world. A piece of paper from the U.N. will not suffice. Yet our Navy is down to only 276 ships from 594 under President Reagan.

Whatever the reasons for McCain’s conversion, the matter of keeping power with the American people is exactly what this battle is all about. It’s good that he got the message. But it’s mind-boggling that any member of the U.S. Senate would want to ratify this treaty. After all, it transfers decision-making authority away from our elected leaders to global authorities and U.N. bureaucracies largely populated by anti-American countries. Nevertheless, the Post editorial says this somehow serves “American interests.” It must have an irrational fear of American sovereignty.

While dismissing the critics as “right-wingers,” the New York Times uses an argument meant to appeal to them. “The steady retreat of the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean—caused largely by global warming—has opened up an inaccessible part of the world to shipping and potentially vast deposits of oil, natural gas and mineral resources,” declares the Times. “This, in turn, has touched off a scramble among nations to determine who owns what on the ocean floor. Unless the United States ratifies the treaty, it will not have a seat at the table when it comes time to sort out competing claims.”

This raises the question of whether the “table” is stacked against us. What’s more, the Times, which opposes oil drilling in our own Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), will certainly not favor extracting the oil, gas and minerals in the Arctic for our own benefit, whether we are at the table or not. So dangling the prospect of getting these resources from the U.N. is just a ploy by the paper’s editorial writers to pass the treaty.


This kind of argument, however, has apparently been persuasive with Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee who frets that unless we ratify the treaty the U.S. will not be able to extract oil, gas and minerals off her state’s shoreline in the North Pole region.

The Times and other media fail to remind us that American explorers were the first to the North Pole in the early 1900s and our nuclear submarines were under the Pole in the 1950s, four decades before the Russians made their bogus claim. One of those U.S. subs, the U.S.S. Nautilus, claimed the area for America.

By ratifying the treaty, the U.S. will give up its historical claims to the North Pole region and throw its fate to mostly foreign arbitrators and “experts” on bodies such as the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf that are stacked against us. This is a process that will end up denying Americans access to the oil, gas and minerals that the treaty will supposedly give us. The alternative is to work on a bilateral or multilateral basis, perhaps through a forum such as the Arctic Council, to resolve any disputes over who owns what.

The Times goes on to say that the vote in the committee “is expected to favor the treaty” but the task facing the Democratic chairman, Joseph Biden of Delaware, and the ranking Republican member, Richard Lugar of Indiana, “is to produce not just a favorable vote but an overwhelming vote sufficient to persuade the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, to finally move on ratification.”

The Republican members will be making one of the most important votes of their lives. A vote in favor will cause conservative and Republican voters to abandon them in droves.

The Times adds, “There are many other reasons besides oil and gas to ratify this worthy document, not least the fact that it would allow the United States to play a leadership role on a whole range of global ocean issues, including overfishing and pollution.”

Here’s where we see the leftist agenda starting to emerge. The U.N.’s Law of the Sea Treaty is a major environmental accord that covers the land and the sea. Its prohibition on pollution from “land-based sources” is so broad that it could cover almost any form of economic and industrial activity. Indeed, we have discovered that another treaty exclusively devoted to this topic and also up for Senate ratification defines land-based sources of pollution as including toilet flushes and shower discharges.

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Years ago I was in the audience of the National Press Club when then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the U.N. “is part of your daily life.” I should have taken those words more literally. Little did I know that I would someday be writing about a U.N.-backed treaty covering toilet bowls.

I suppose we can expect the Times and the Post to endorse that one, too.

© 2007 Cliff Kincaid - All Rights Reserved

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Cliff Kincaid, a veteran journalist and media critic, Cliff concentrated in journalism and communications at the University of Toledo, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Cliff has written or co-authored nine books on media and cultural affairs and foreign policy issues.

Cliff has appeared on Hannity & Colmes, The O’Reilly Factor, Crossfire and has been published in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Chronicles, Human Events and Insight.

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The liberal media establishment has spoken. Will the Senate listen to the liberal media or the people?