Of guns and navies: Treaties 101
December 4, 2012
Before starting a discussion of international treaties, let’s recall the central unanswered question of Sept. 11, 2012: Who gave the order to “stand down” and allow four Americans to die in Benghazi?
Forget about the misleading information dished out by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. Forget about General Petraeus. Forget about Paula Broadwell. Focus on who, in effect, ordered the deaths of four of our fellow Americans by refusing to send readily available help?
Now, to Treaties 101: If the United States signs a treaty and that treaty is ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate, that treaty becomes part of our Constitution and is binding law on the United States unless it is removed by a Constitutional Amendment or until the other signatories to the treaty allow us to withdraw from it.
Fairly often, when the United States signs treaties, the U.S. Senate never passes a resolution to “consent” to the treaty, i.e., it is not ratified. Unfortunately, even un-ratified treaties have teeth. By a quirk (custom) of international law, the U.S. usually follows the dictates of the treaties it signs even though those treaties have not been ratified. To a large degree, the treaties are enforced until either rejected by the Senate or renounced by the president.
Now the current president and secretary of state are eager to have two treaties, in particular, either ratified by the U.S. Senate, or, failing that, enforced by the president during the next four years. The two treaties are: 1. The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) which would give the U.N. control over three-quarters of the earth’s surface (the oceans) and all the minerals and fish underneath the oceans. 2. The U.N. Small Arms Trade Treaty (SATT) which is designed to establish a worldwide system of gun control.
The Law of the Sea Treaty also shifts the mission of maintaining freedom-of-the-seas to the U.N., which means a sharply reduced U.S. Navy would be under U.N. command. The SATT subordinates our Second Amendment (the individual right to keep and bear arms) to the dictates of the U.N.
When space permits, LOST and SATT and a host of other treaties backed by the president will be explained in more detail. Immediately, however, opponents of LOST and SATT are faced with two frightening possibilities: The president could try to force these ratifications through the current lame-duck Congress. Or, he can, over the next four years, order his Executive Branch to put them into effect for as long as the U.S. Senate does not rise up and reject them outright.
For those who oppose these treaties there is hope; provided, a sufficient number of anti-LOST and/or anti-SATT U.S. Senators (Democrat or Republican) can be elected in 2014. In 2014, the Democrats (most of whom favor these treaties) must defend 20 Senate seats. The Republicans (all of whom oppose these treaties) need only defend 13 seats.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of LOST, the U.S. Navy is being reduced to 230 ships, the lowest number since 1915. Although there are other Second Amendment fears as well – in anticipation of SATT, personal U.S. small-arms sales are at record high levels.
Nationally syndicated columnist and retired military officer, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.