National Security Big Three Argue for Law of Sea Treaty Ratification
(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration’s making a big push this year for the Senate to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention, which was agreed to in 1994 signed by 160 countries. The U.S. took a leadership role in crafting the treaty that guarantees maritime passage and clarifies territorial boundaries off the world’s coastlines. But the Senate’s never ratified the treaty thanks to the concerns from some conservatives that the treaty will restrict American sovereignty.
That’s why the administration’s big three national security officials (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey) testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday to lobby for the Senate to ratify the bill this year. The administration’s efforts have everything to do with the strategic pivot to Asia that it’s undertaken. Panetta and Clinton argued that the U.S. is at a disadvantage when it comes to trying to have China ease up on its territorial ambitions in the waters of the South China Sea, that their arguments are weakened by the fact that the U.S. is not a signatory to the treaty.
Though there’s a lot of support in the Senate to finally ratify the treaty, there are still some conservative holdouts, some of whom made their case at Wednesday’s hearing.
Committee chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said Wednesday that he was going to take the politics out of ratifying the treaty by saying he would not bring the treaty to a vote in the full Senate until after the presidential election in November.
The Big Three all made arguments Wednesday about how the treaty would have great economic benefits for big oil companies and would not weaken America’s national security interests. It was a very well coordinated series of remarks with Clinton and Panetta trying to shoot down opponents of the treaty whom they said were relying on incorrect information and “mythology."
Treaty opponent Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, noted how the economic arguments in favor of the treaty used by Clinton and Panetta relied heavily on oil exploration of America’s continental shelf. He called the comments ironic given what he perceived as the administration’s lack of support for drilling by big oil companies.
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