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Commentaries and editorials

Isolationists Target Sea Treaty,
Put Bush Adrift

by Patrick McGann
Lewiston Tribune, June 8, 2004

What do salmon have to do with the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq? Both are victims of the dysfunctional relationship between the United States and the United Nations.

Paranoid anti-U.N. groups are taken seriously enough by the Bush administration to stall ratification of the Convention of the Law of the Sea.

This is a big deal here in the Northwest. Articles 61 through 73 deal with living resources, specifically with high seas interception of Pacific salmon.

It is essentially a worldwide extension of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and it would help more salmon return to the Columbia, Snake and Clearwater rivers. Ending high seas interception of Pacific salmon would help take pressure off the Northwest dams/fish/water conflict. This treaty is the one thing all the stakeholders in the conflict have been able to agree upon.

Written during the Reagan administration, the treaty has been blocked by various conspiracy theorists, such as Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum and the John Birch Society. They found a patron in Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina. When Helms retired in 2003, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., a strong advocate of the treaty, took Helms' seat chairing the Foreign Relations Committee.

President Bush signaled his support in February, but that's when the anti-U.N. people got busy, and Helms' aides, with the help of Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., got the White House to flip-flop.

"All these U.N. treaties are invasions of our sovereignty," said Schlafly.

Sovereignty. United Nations. Funny she should bring that up.

It seems to have suddenly occurred to President Bush that without a U.N. resolution recognizing it, the U.S. transfer of sovereignty to Iraq will be worse than meaningless. Failure to achieve U.N. recognition of the transfer would be a tacit condemnation by the international community. Sovereignty, after all, is an internationalist concept.

Salmon don't understand sovereignty. They keep swimming out where factory ships can get at them , and without international law there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Isolationism is no friend of the people of the Northwest. And no friend of America.

Patrick McGann
Isolationists Target Sea Treaty, Put Bush Adrift
Lewiston Tribune, June 8, 2004

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