In The Wall Street Journal, Edwin Meese and William P. Clark, who served under President Reagan, respectively, as Attorney General and National Security Adviser, set the record straight on Reagan’s opposition to the Law of the Sea Treaty — and on treaty supporters’ claims made today that it has been “fixed”:
In a radio address titled “Ocean Mining” on Oct. 10, 1978, Mr. Reagan applauded the idea that “no nat[ional] interest of ours could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the earth’s surface over to the Third World.” He added, “No one has ruled out the idea of a [Law of the Sea] treaty–one which makes sense–but after long years of fruitless negotiating, it became apparent that the underdeveloped nations who now control the General Assembly were looking for a free ride at our expense–again.”
The so-called seabed mining provisions were simply one manifestation of the problems Ronald Reagan had with LOST. That was made clear by an entry in his diary dated June 29, 1982, after months of efforts to negotiate extensive changes in the draft treaty text came to naught. On that evening, President Reagan wrote: “Decided in [National Security Council] meeting–will not sign ‘Law of the Sea’ treaty even without seabed mining provisions.”
The man selected by President Reagan to undertake those renegotiations was the remarkable James Malone. In 1984, Ambassador Malone explained why the Law of the Sea Treaty was unacceptable: “The Treaty’s provisions were intentionally designed to promote a new world order–a form of global collectivism known as the New International Economic Order (NIEO)–that seeks ultimately the redistribution of the world’s wealth through a complex system of manipulative central economic planning and bureaucratic coercion. The Treaty’s provisions are predicated on a distorted interpretation of the noble concept of the Earth’s vast oceans as the ‘common heritage of mankind.'”
Interestingly, Ambassador Malone declared in 1995, “This remains the case today.” That statement is particularly relevant insofar as LOST’s supporters, including some of our colleagues from the Reagan administration, insist that the 1994 Agreement “fixed” the previously unacceptable Part XI provisions.
Well worth reading. For more on the political and economic consequences of LOST, see CEI’s two papers on the treaty, by Doug Bandow and Jeremy Rabkin, and Fred Smith’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last Thursday.