About 3,200 years ago the defenders of Troy, a maritime power of the day, found a large wooden horse outside their city’s walls where their foes had been encamped.
Taking this “peace offering” to be a tribute to Poseidon, the god of the seas, they dragged the horse into the city that had, until then, withstood everything their adversaries could throw against it. That night, as the people of Troy celebrated “peace,” Greek warriors poured forth from the belly of the beast, opened the city gates to admit more of the enemy, slaughtered the helpless occupants and burned the metropolis to the ground. It’s a lesson appropriate to our times.
Today, the U.S. Senate is weighing whether to endorse an equally insidious Trojan Horse — the so-called United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty — known by its appropriate acronym: LOST. This pact, conceived by anti-American “globalists” in the 1970s, was backed by the Carter administration, rejected outright by President Ronald Reagan and ultimately signed by Bill Clinton. Now, the Bush administration is inexplicably urging the Senate to ratify the treaty, which would put 70 percent of the Earth’s surface under the despot-doting, corrupt and unaccountable “governance” of the United Nations. Ratification advocates claim Reagan-era deficiencies have been corrected. Not so. LOST is no “gift from the sea.” It’s a Trojan horse.
For several months, State Department officials have quietly told Senate Foreign Relations Committee members that ratification of LOST will prove to skeptics we are receptive to a “multilateral approach” to “solve international problems.” Yet, it is this treaty’s very “multilateral” aspect — in its definitions, provisions and mandatory dispute resolution — that poses the greatest risk to the United States. A few LOST examples:
c Articles 19 & 20: Proscribe use of territorial waters to collect intelligence, conduct “operational missions,” and requires submarines to travel on the surface and “show their flag” in territorial waters. This would make impossible certain types of covert intelligence-gathering and special operations.
Article 88: Reserves the high seas for “peaceful” purposes. Treaty proponents claim “military activities” are exempted, but Article 298 fails to define such operations. Disagreement would be resolved by an unprecedented requirement that the U.S. submit to mandatory dispute resolution by a U.N. “tribunal” or to “binding arbitration.”
Article 110: Specifies that ships can be intercepted at sea for suspected piracy, slavery, narcotics trafficking and “unauthorized broadcasting,” but doesn’t provide for interdicting vessels suspected of engaging in terrorism or shipping weapons of mass destruction. Communist China has already claimed this stipulation of LOST renders President Bush’s Proliferation Security Initiative impermissible.
c Article 301: Requires that states refrain from “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” This noble-sounding language — a nautical Kellogg-Briand Pact updated for the 21st century — could “legally” prevent the United States from ever again launching an operation like Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, the liberation of Iraq or a future defense of Taiwan or the Republic of Korea.
Those are just the treaty’s national security implications. Other economic, commercial and financial obligations of LOST are equally egregious. The treaty is evidence of the U.N.’s longstanding commitment to redistributing wealth and technology from developed to “less-developed” countries and entities that “have not yet attained full independence or other self-governing status.” For example: Article 144 would obligate private U.S. companies to transfer seabed mining and “other” technologies to a multinational U.N. bureaucracy called the “International Seabed Authority.” The wire diagram of this Orwellian entity looks like a rough draft of Enron’s financial arrangements — and is likely to produce enough opportunity for corruption and financial wrongdoing to give Paul Volcker’s U.N. Whitewash Team work for the rest of their lives.
This so-called “Seabed Authority,” through its mining “enterprise,” has the final say on which company from which nation has rights to mine seabed mineral deposits. Under LOST, this global entity is empowered to levy “fees” and “other taxes” on private companies to which mining contracts are awarded and can compel industrialized nations to share technologies with others “unable to obtain” sophisticated seabed mining equipment. The billions of dollars this would put under the control of U.N. bureaucracy makes the Oil-for-Food program look like pocket change. To an “entrepreneur” in Nepal, Central African Republic, Paraguay, the Palestine Liberation Organization, or any other land-locked entity, LOST is better than a globalized Small Business Administration.
Taken in its totality, LOST is a loser. The few articles of the treaty that actually benefit freedom of navigation and commerce are already contained in international laws that can be individually amended as needed.
To surrender to a manifestly corrupt U.N. bureaucracy the muscle and money envisioned by this treaty is an invitation to an assault on our sovereignty and security. Ratifying LOST is tantamount to requiring we pay to build the Trojan Horse — and insisting we drag this “gift from the sea” inside the gates.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist and the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance.