Conservative Opposition Leaves U.N. Accord in Dry Dock

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by IJ Reilly, Jun 1, 2004.

  1. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    This article provides some insights into the influence of farthest-right element within the GOP.

    The Eagle Forum and others are against such multinational treaties. Their all-out effort has stalled its ratification in the Senate this year.

    By Elizabeth Shogren
    Times Staff Writer

    June 1, 2004

    WASHINGTON — The Defense and State departments both want it. So do the oil and mining industries. Environmental groups are clamoring for it.

    Yet three months after the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea won the unanimous approval of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it is languishing in the Senate, with scant chance of ratification this year.

    The comprehensive accord, covering the use of the oceans for shipping, mining, fishing and naval operations, has become the victim of an all-out assault by conservative groups, such as Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, that oppose multinational agreements on principle.

    The treaty's chief Senate advocate, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), has warned the Bush administration that its failure to speed ratification tells the world that the United States rejects multilateralism even as it tries to rally support for Iraq's recovery and for the war against terrorism.

    "If we cannot get beyond political paralysis in a case where the coalition of American supporters is so comprehensive, there is little reason to think that any multilateral solution to any international problem is likely to be accepted within the U.S. policymaking structure," Lugar said in a speech last month.

    When Lugar appealed to President Bush recently to save the treaty, the president merely nodded, according to Mark Helmke, an aide to Lugar. He said national security advisor Condoleezza Rice gave Lugar a noncommittal "we'll take it under advisement." The administration, Helmke said, is "letting a bunch of right-wing isolationist groups use the United Nations as a way to beat up on the treaty."

    Although the conservative groups' objections were expected, he said, "what did surprise us is that the administration kowtowed to them so quickly."


    "The basic purpose of the treaty is to make the U.S. spend our money to mine the riches of the sea and turn it over to some U.N. authority," said Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum, which advocates for conservative social issues. "All these U.N. treaties are invasions of our sovereignty."

    However, the Republican political appointee who under Presidents Nixon and Ford helped draft the treaty dismisses the criticisms as "vacuous."

    "There is not a single sovereign right of the United States that is conceded in this treaty," said John Norton Moore, a law professor at the University of Virginia. "This is about as clear a case of a treaty strongly in the interest of the United States as I've ever seen.

    "I'm a conservative and I'm a Republican. I find it shocking that what we're getting is an effort to undercut the wishes of a Republican president, our security establishment and American industry. In an age in which we need to cooperate with countries around the world on terrorism, this is extremely harmful."

    The Navy calls the treaty crucial for national security because it would protect U.S. military vessels' freedom of navigation across the world's oceans.

    The oil industry says the treaty would provide a new source of domestic oil by increasing the amount of offshore territory considered under U.S. jurisdiction, particularly in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico.

    Environmentalists stress that the treaty would establish important ways to protect whales, dolphins and other sea creatures and the threatened ecological health of the oceans.

    Moore said failure to ratify would put an array of U.S. interests at increased risk. For example, Russia is trying to claim as its jurisdiction waters over the Arctic shelf stretching beyond the North Pole, which could curtail a U.S. role in the fisheries and environmental protection in the far north. Unless the U.S. ratifies the accord, it will forfeit the influence it could have in resolving that question, treaty sponsors said.

    Lugar argues that the U.S. must ratify the treaty before January, when the countries that have done so will meet to consider amending it.

    But the conservative groups predict that they'll be able to stall a vote at least until next year. Frist spokeswoman Amy Call said that, given the controversy the accord had generated, "it's probably not something we have time to do this year."​,1,2319383.story
  2. Taft macrumors 65816


    Jan 31, 2002
    So can any "strict constitutionalists" around here (read: Frohickey) please explain to me why this treaty is opposed by conservative groups?

    This article seems pretty one-sided, but it doesn't seem to me that there should be any opposition to such a treaty. It is perplexing why anyone would be against it.

  3. Sayhey macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2003
    San Francisco
    I'm amazed the Schlafly still has such influence. She was one of those mainly responsible for the defeat of the ERA, but I'd assumed that even most Republicans had moved on from her vision of the world. It's sad that anyone, much less Senators of the United States, would listen to her today.
  4. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    If anything, the center of the party, at least as it's represented in the Congressional delegation, has moved closer to Schlafly et al. I read another article in the Times this morning about the battle within the Republican caucus over balancing the budget vs. tax cutting. The traditional moderate conservatives are mainly in the former camp, and they are steadily losing ground to the more ideological right-wingers. If I were a moderate Republican, I'd be worrying about how my party is being hijacked by the most extreme elements within the party, and about what this means for the future of the party.

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