Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2
- Sep 28, 2011
GAFFNEY: Common sense lost at sea - Washington Times
In recent days, top U.S. Cabinet officers have traveled around the world on high-profile diplomatic missions. Ironically, in the process of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to the Arctic Circle and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta's travels in Asia, they both undercut the case for the U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty - one they had made jointly in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mrs. Clinton took part in a meeting of the Arctic Council, whose eight members have territory in that region. Of these, just five - Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark's Greenland and the United States - have coasts on the Arctic Ocean and therefore are able to claim rights to offshore resources.
To be sure, the secretary of state used the occasion of joining the other Arctic nations to forge a regionwide search-and-rescue agreement to express the Obama administration's commitment to the Law of the Sea Treaty. She assured her colleagues that the president is determined to overcome opposition in the Senate and the country in order to get the treaty ratified.
Still, this search-and-rescue agreement suggests the obvious: It is far easier to achieve understandings in a group of eight - or, better yet, five - nations that have similar, if not identical, interests and a shared understanding of the stakes than among a group of 150-plus nations, most of which do not. If that is true for an accord governing assistance to downed planes and ships lost at sea, it surely is the case when it comes to the disposition of potentially many billions of dollars worth of undersea oil and gas deposits