American sovereignty: LOST at sea?

Ken Blackwell & Robert Morrison Senior Fellows, Family Research Council
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Sen. Dick Lugar’s defeat in a Republican primary last week has not been attributed, as nearly as we can tell, to his 1979 trip to Moscow with Joe Biden. Then, the two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee left the bosses of the Kremlin with the distinct impression that they cared about arms control and not so much about human rights. Claire Berlinsky’s article in the Spring 2010 issue of City Journal ought to be disqualifying. Nor, it seems, did the senator’s spearheading of the ill-advised START treaty with the Russians in a lame-duck session in December 2010 lead to his loss by a stunning 61% to 39% vote to a tea party-backed challenger.

Last week’s primary seems to have turned on Lugar’s 36-year tenure, and the addition of some $13 trillion in debt while he held his seat, most of that time as Indiana’s senior senator. As he conceded the election, Lugar sternly cautioned the victor, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, on bipartisanship, on the need to compromise to get things done.

Bipartisanship is fine when it is based on real principle. We can point to the Reagan tax cuts, the welfare reform bills and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as examples of fruitful, principled bipartisanship. The Senate was right to ratify President Reagan’s INF Treaty with the Soviets. Conservatives should not reflexively reject all bipartisanship or oppose any international treaties.

But the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) needs to be extensively modified if not rejected altogether. Thirty years ago, President Reagan wisely shelved this U.N. project.

He viewed it, as most Americans who have serious concerns about that world body viewed it, as a typical example of liberal internationalist globaloney. Jimmy Carter, probably sensing that he would get the boot from American voters, began trolling for votes on the Nobel Peace Prize committee through such ill-considered measures.

First, we need to throw overboard any “International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.”

The U.N. would choose this maritime court. How do we like the U.N. Human Rights Council? That body contains such human rights offenders as China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. Until last year, Libya was a member as well.

If this is the U.N.’s idea of human rights, can we imagine what a Law of the Sea Tribunal would look like? Perhaps we could persuade Johnny Depp to do a star turn with his fellow “Pirates of the Caribbean” as judges of the sea. That would be a tribunal less hostile to justice than anything we’d see in a U.N.-nominated and elected maritime court.

Second, we need to scrap any “discovery” provisions in legal proceedings under LOST. These can be used by those who wage “lawfare” against the United States and its NATO allies to uncover sensitive national security documents. WikiLeaks hemorrhages are bad enough. We don’t need to empower the global ACLUers to undermine Americans’ national security.

Third, we need to scotch any attempt to tax Americans for the support of a U.N.-created International Seabed Authority. This one needs a stake through its heart. It’s bad enough that the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been headed for a decade by such high-taxers as Joe Biden (D-DE), Dick Lugar (R-IN) and John Kerry (D-MA). We should not let them bootstrap another taxing authority onto Americans via the backdoor of an international treaty. If this is not the camel’s nose under the American tent, it is surely the international octopus’s tentacle into the Yankee boat.

Just as we need to resist Sharia creeping into American courts, we should resist a so-called Law of the Sea Treaty being rushed through in another lame-duck Senate this year. For a generation, the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) was the eagle who watched over American sovereignty. Jesse would keep the Senate in session into the wee hours of Christmas morning if he had to in order to protect our independence. It was Helms who once said: “I have no argument with the State Department; I just wish they’d open up an American desk.” Sen. Helms is gone. Now, America’s independence and sovereignty must be watched over by each one of us.

Ken Blackwell on faculty of the Liberty University School of Law. Bob Morrison is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard.