Fred Smith Testifies Against LOST

The hearing on the Law of the Sea Treaty before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning, at which CEI Presidnet Fred Smith testified, turned out to be contentious.

Following his opening salvo, Frank Gaffney, of the Center for Security Policy, followed with more arguments against the treaty. He said that the treaty would pursue a goal that is “out of date”: the creation of a global redistributionist regime that was first promoted during the 1970s by the Soviet Union and “the so-called non-aligned” countries. He mentioned the danger of “lawfare” being waged against the U.S. military through environmental regulation that, for example, would seek to curb the use of sonar on the basis that it could potentially disrupt marine life.

University of Miami law professor Bernard Oxman testified in favor of the treaty. His central point was to dismiss the dangers cited by the opposition witnesses, while citing the treaty’s purported benefits.

He opened by saying, “If there were a treaty that does even a fraction of what Mr. Gaffney says it does, I would be shoulder to shoulder with him in opposing it.” He described LOST as “a long-term bipartisan effort” to advance American interests in the world’s oceans, and cited the support of former secretaries of state Albright, Baker, Haig, Powell, and Schulz. The treaty, Oxman noted, is already in effect, without the U.S. as a party. He said he found it “puzzling…that a few commentators” are arguing that “dire consequences would flow” from LOST’s ratification.

Oxman made much of the fact that President Reagan, while he found several LOST provisions unacceptable — particularly those dealing with seabed mining — he supported the treaty’s freedom of navigation provisions, and committed America to respect the principle behind the navigation provisions. (Of course, the fact that such principles are already observed as customary international law makes the treaty’s relevant provisions redundant.)

“We have not been dragged into this position kicking and screaming,” said Oxman. Citing Reagan again, Oxman said that the late president committed to respecting the navigational principles in LOST because “we expect other countries to do the same.” Further, he argued that not only is LOST not a threat to U.S. sovereignty, it is “an exercise of sovereignty” in that it would secure of the “freedom to navigate around the world…without interference from the countries off of whose coast we navigate.”