At Via Meadia, we’ve spent years scouring the news for the most shocking stories and there is very little that can surprise us. In the past year alone, we’ve seen giant rats descend on New York, British ethicists endorsing “after-birth abortions” and the rise of caffeinated meat. But the Washington Post has managed to surprise us: it says the GOP should listen to Sarah Palin.It should listen to her on the Law of the Sea Convention, that is. Before attaining the national spotlight as John McCain’s running mate, Governor Palin advised her state’s senators that “If the U.S. does not ratify the convention, the opportunity to pursue our own claims to offshore areas in the Arctic Ocean might well be lost. As a consequence, our rightful claims to hydrocarbons, minerals, and other natural resources could be ignored.” The Post, surveying the merits of the treaty, calls on the Republicans to heed her warnings “on something she knows about firsthand.”This treaty has been kicking around unratified for nearly twenty years, and it appears that the opposition is holding fast. Many senators, particularly Republicans, have raised concerns that ratification of the treaty could result in a loss of sovereignty, forcing America to give up part of its taxing authority to the United Nations.The arguments in favor of ratification are getting stronger, however. One in particular is becoming more powerful: The treaty is an important legal bulwark in the struggle over the South China Sea. China has ratified the treaty, and under its provisions many of China’s extreme territorial claims do not stand up. These violations give the U.S. and its allies more leverage in potential territorial clashes with China, but it will be hard for the U.S. to muster an international consensus in favor of enforcing a treaty that we haven’t ratified.What’s needed here is a serious discussion, in which the senators with questions put it all on the table, and the Administration works, with past Republican Secretaries of State and other officials who are respected by those senators, to address the issues and arrive at a genuine consensus on the treaty. In the old days, Jesse Helms used to be the go to guy on treaties. Conservatives trusted him to inspect treaties carefully for hidden sovereignty giveaways and other features; presidents trying to get treaties ratified knew who they should try to persuade.It’s not clear that Helms has a successor in the Senate in this gate keeping role. Perhaps the administration should reach out to someone conservatives trust on national security issues and work with that person to see whether there is a way to meet conservative concerns while getting the benefits of ratification.Could this be a job for John Bolton?
Signs of the Apocalypse: Washington Post Says “Listen to Sarah Palin”
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