I was angered by the utterly uninformed op-ed piece by a guest columnist Mark Hendrickson on an issue of great importance to our national security. (See "Should the Senate Ratify the U.N. Sea Treaty?" River Cities' Reader Issue 670, February 7-13, 2008.) For starters: the LOS Treaty gives no substantive responsibility to the U.N. - nor, for that matter, did the U.N. "adopt it" as Mr. Hendrickson's screed erroneously states; "U.N." appears in its title merely because the diplomatic conference that negotiated it was convened 35 years ago pursuant to a U.N. General Assembly Resolution.
As for substance, Mr. Hendrickson admits he "won't even try" to examine whether the treaty "yields net gains" for the U.S. This is a shocking abdication of intellectual rigor for a putative educator. Less-lazy individuals who have answered that question in the affirmative include the current and all former living chiefs of naval operations, the secretary of state, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (twice!), the president, the Bush-appointed U.S. Oceans Policy Commission (unanimously), the American Petroleum Institute, all living former chief counsels of the State Department, the commandant of the Coast Guard, former U.N. rep John Bolton (at his confirmation hearings), etc., etc.
People familiar with the treaty are generally happy to answer questions about its actual provisions based on the text. But for reasons I can't fathom, the extreme right considers opposition to this treaty a saliva test of some sort, of such importance to "the Conservative Movement" that to lie in the public press about the treaty is considered okay - or, as in Mr. Hendrickson's case, to argue irrelevant points about real or imagined evils of the U.N.
In any event, the issue of U.S. accession (not "ratification," by the way, because the treaty has been in effect for years, with some 150 nations now party to it) is of great importance to our national security. If you choose to publish op-ed pieces about it, you owe it to your readership to publish informed opinion, and perhaps even some facts.
Robert J. McManus