Senator Chuck Hagel, the president’s nominee for defense secretary, was joined by Senators John Warner and Sam Nunn prior to his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
In his responses for the record, Senator Hagel addressed two important issues relevant to DOD energy and maritime security interests.
This morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold its third hearing on the Law of the Sea Convention that will focus exclusively on the economic benefits of ratifying the treaty. The hearing will include testimony from business representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers and Verizon Communications. (Watch the hearing live here beginning at 9 AM).
Although the hearing will focus mostly on the economic benefits of ratifying the treaty, including securing rights to offshore energy and mineral resources, it is important to remember that securing rights to these resources has attendant benefits for U.S. national security as well. Increased production of domestic energy resources bolsters U.S. assured access to energy, which helps reduce the vulnerability from energy choke points in the Middle East and elsewhere. Meanwhile, ratifying the convention and putting U.S. companies in a position to secure recognized claims to offshore mineral resources such as rare earth metals that are used in a variety of high-tech applications, including defense platforms, helps reduce the U.S. vulnerability to relying heavily on Chinese exports of rare earths. (China produces 95 percent of the global supply of rare earths but only has 50 percent of the global reserves.)
On a related note, the American Security Project has published a short primer on the Law of the Sea that separates fact from fiction. (Check it out here.) And the Department of Defense has launched a new webpage on the Law of the Sea Convention akin to the State Department’s website. The DOD page includes speeches and testimony from the Secretary of Defense and senior military officials on the national security benefits of ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention.
Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee convened a hearing with top military officials to discuss the national security benefits of ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention. The panel of top military officials – referred to as the “24 star” military witnesses, with four Admirals and two Generals – voiced strong support for ratifying the convention.
The presence of several U.S. Geographic Combatant Commanders reinforced the message that the Law of the Sea Convention enables the U.S. military to safeguard U.S. interests in important maritime domains, such as the South China Sea and the Arctic.
From left to right: Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command; General William M. Fraser, III, Commander of U.S. Transportation Command; Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations; Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard; and General Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., Commander of U.S. Northern Command.
Photo: Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the national security and strategic rationale for ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention. (See their full remarks here.)
The hearing was the first of three planned ones, according to reports. The other hearings – not yet scheduled – will include high-ranking military officials building on the national security message and representatives from the business community making the economic case for ratifying the convention.
Photo: Courtesy of the Department of Defense.
Reuters reports on the international negotiations in Baghdad between Western and Iranian officials over Iran’s nuclear program. According to the report, negotiations appeared to be hindered by Western sanctions against Iranian oil exports. “Iran had served notice that it wanted immediate relief from economic sanctions as part of any deal to stop higher-grade uranium enrichment, a pathway to nuclear arms, whereas Western powers insisted Tehran must first shut it down,” the report says.
The National Journal reports on Wednesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the national security case for ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention. Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he would hold off on a vote until after the November elections, suggesting that Congress could have a heated debate on the treaty during the lame-duck session.
The Wall Street Journal reports that on Wednesday Turkmenistan agreed to supply natural gas to both Pakistan and India, a necessary step toward realizing the trans-Afghan pipeline that has been twenty years in the making. Instability in Afghanistan and billions of dollars in investments are the two major roadblocks facing pipeline construction through Afghanistan.
Later this morning the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will examine the national security and strategic imperatives for ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC). Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey are scheduled to testify. (View the live webcast here starting at 10 AM.)
In preparation for today’s hearing, below is a primer on what I see as the national security rationale for ratifying LOSC. As I have written before here on the blog and in a recent policy brief on Security at Sea, ratifying the convention will serve a range of national security interests. For example:
To learn more, check out our recent study, Security at Sea: The Case for Ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention.
For additional resources, visit The American Sovereignty Campaign.
On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta joined Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and Senators John Warner and Chuck Hagel in a forum on the Law of the Sea Convention hosted by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Atlantic Council. Secretary Panetta urged the U.S. Senate to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention in order to protect U.S. security interests. “Treaty law remains the firmest legal foundation upon which to base our global presence, on, above, and below the seas,” Secretary Panetta said, adding “How can we argue that other nations must abide by international rules, when we haven’t officially accepted those rules.”
To learn more about the national security rationale for ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention, see our recent study Security at Sea.
Photo: Secretary Panetta addresses the audience of the Forum on the Law of the Sea on Wednesday, May 9, 2010. Courtesy of Glenn Fawcett and the Department of Defense.
Defense News reports on a forum on the Law of the Sea Convention hosted by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Atlantic Council that featured keynote addresses by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and General Martine Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who both urged the U.S. Senate to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention in order to safeguard American interests and U.S. Armed Forces.
Dr. Fravel links to a story in the Philippine Star that reports that Chinese maritime vessels have imposed fishing restrictions on Filipino fisherman in an area approximately 120-nautical miles off the coast of the Philippine island Luzon, an area that would be considered within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone.
Later this morning CNAS will release a new policy brief that explores the national security and foreign policy benefits of ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention.
While the United States has to date protected its maritime interests without ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC) – relying instead on the protections afforded by customary international law – the rise of modern navies and unconventional security threats are making this approach increasingly risky and will imperil U.S. national security interests. LOSC is the only global maritime regime that codifies longstanding maritime norms that are consistent with U.S. interests and protects the status quo. By failing to ratify LOSC, the United States forfeits its ability to shape the interpretation and execution of the convention and protect the provisions that support the existing international order, with consequences that will last for decades. Ratifying the treaty would demonstrate that the United States is serious about upholding international norms on maritime issues at a time when rising powers are challenging existing rules at sea and, as a result, American interests.
But what are those interests? How will LOSC specifically help the United States secure its access to the maritime domain, and achieve broader foreign policy and national security goals? That is the subject of Security at Sea. And while the list of benefits is extensive - and my effort to explore the benefits is by no means exhaustive - there are some specific security issues that I think will resonate with U.S. policymakers. As I argue in the policy brief, ratifying the treaty will:
While LOSC is no silver bullet – it won’t help address every challenge that the United States will confront at sea – ratifying the treaty will improve America’s ability to protect many of its global interests by providing a stronger legal foundation for its own maritime activities and helping to shape and enforce international norms and legal authorities. It is time for the U.S. Senate to ratifying LOSC and allow the United States to take advantage of the benefits that will accrue to American interests.
Debate over ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is ramping up in Washington. There has been a lot of attention given to how the treaty can help the United States secure its interests in places like the Arctic and the South China Sea – and rightly so given that challenges to U.S. maritime interests in these regions have serious implications for American security and its global leadership role. Yet other regions also exemplify the central role that UNCLOS ratification will play in securing U.S. interests at sea, including just off the U.S. coast.
As the U.S. Gulf Coast continues to reel from the devastating months-long oil spill that plagued the region in 2010, the United States is likely to be hamstrung in managing future disasters unless it ratifies UNCLOS. Offshore oil drilling in non-U.S. waters is a particular worry for U.S. officials – including the Coast Guard. Recent activities along Cuba’s continental shelf have exacerbated concerns that an oil spill akin to the Deepwater Horizon incident could impact an area of the U.S. coastline that stretches from eastern Florida to North Carolina’s outer banks. Reports suggest that Cuba’s capacity to respond to a major oil spill is minuscule, with only five percent of the assets needed to respond to an accident. Given that Washington does not maintain official diplomatic ties with Havana, it is unclear how the United States and Cuba would cooperate around an oil spill that could have economic and environmental implications for U.S. coastal communities.