Saturday, November 24, 2012

LOST in a Dream World

We need to join the Law of the Seat Treaty (LOST) to resolve South China Sea ownership and navigation issues? Since we don't own any of the islands in the region, why aren't all those LOST treaty members in the region who own those islands enjoying the benefits of that treaty to resolve their disputes?

I just don't get how Secretary of Defense Panetta can argue that we need the Law of the Sea Treaty to defend freedom of navigation in the western Pacific:

I mean I go to the Asia-Pacific region. They are having territorial disputes over these rocks out there -- (Laughter.) -- and, you know, I mean obviously it's about the resources that are offshore of those rocks, but they're having these disputes over these areas.

And, you know, one of the arguments I make is wait a minute, you know, we have to maintain freedom of the seas, we have to maintain, you know, navigation rights.

And some of these countries look at me and say, you know, what are you talking about? You haven't even approved the Law of the Sea Treaty. How can you tell us what the hell to do here?

And they're right. They're right. I mean, you know, we are the only industrialized country that has not approved that treaty. The only industrialized country that has not approved that treaty.

In order for us to have credibility to be able to argue about freedom of navigation, maritime rights, that's essential.

I laughed, too, to be fair.

The only reason those resources are under dispute is because the Law of the Sea allows an extended 200 nautical miles economic zone around tiny rocks barely habitable, providing great incentive to control them without providing a means to peacefully resolve those disputes.

The reason freedom of the seas is at risk is because China is interpreting the Law of the Sea Treaty's economic zone provisions as meaning that they can keep foreign warships out of those economic zones.

So the treaty is causing us problems of ownership and freedom of navigation, yet joining the treaty resolves the problems? Somehow, our ratification magically gets the Chinese to rethink their views on South China Sea ownership? Really?

Do you think I'm drunk and not paying attention?

Because I am paying attention, I assure you. And I couldn't get drunk enough to fail to notice the problems associated with the treaty.

This treaty is flawed and should not be approved. It will not allow us the luxury of abandoning the one sure means of defending freedom of navigation--a Navy second to none and leadership who won't be pushed around when it comes to upholding traditional navigation rights. That's credibility that can't be misinterpreted.

Kill LOST. It is not in our nation's interests. And by tying us to a flawed treaty, it will make our sea problems worse rather than better.

UPDATE: Explain to me again why ratifying LOST rather than maintaining our naval and air power is going to help defend freedom of navigation issues off the coast of China?

China has carried out its first successful landing of a fighter jet on its first aircraft carrier, state media said on Sunday, a symbolically significant development as Asian neighbors fret about the world's most populous country's military ambitions. ...

China is embroiled in disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam over South China Sea islands believed to be surrounded by waters rich in natural gas. It has a similar dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.

It has also warned the United States, with President Barack Obama's "pivot" to Asia, not to get involved.

Or was that warning not to get involved truncated in the story before we got to the "until you ratify LOST" part that might justify accepting the treaty?