tv [untitled] May 24, 2012 4:00pm-4:30pm EDT
voices of the past and present that have spoken so strongly in support of this treaty. a fundamental point is clear. if the united states is to assert its historical role as a global maritime power, and we have without question the strongest navy in the world, but if we're going to continue to assert our role as a maritime power, it's essential that we accede to this important convention. being here with secretary clinton, chairman dempsey, their presence alone is a testament to the conviction of our democratic and military leadership that this -- this convention is absolutely essential to strengthening our position in the world. let me outline some of the critical arguments with regards to u.s. national security. and why it's time to move
forward with this issue. first of all, it as has been pointed out, as the world's strongest preeminent maritime power, we are a country that has one of the longest coastlines and one of the largest extended continental shelves in the world. we have more to gain by approving this convention than almost any other country. there's 161 countries that have approved. we're the only industrial power that has failed to do that. and as a result, we don't have a seat at the table. if we are sitting at this international table of nations, we can defend our interests, we can defend our claims, we can lead the discussion in trying to influence treaty bodies that develop and interpret the law of the '. sea. we are not there. and as a result, they're the ones that are developing the interpretation of this very important treaty.
in that way, we would ensure that our rights are not whittled away by the excessive claims and erroneous interpretations of others. it would give us the power and authority to support and promote the peaceful resolution of disputes within a rules-based order. second, we would secure our navigational freedoms and global access for military and commercial ships, aircraft and undersea fiberoptic cables. treaty law remains the firmest legal foundation upon which to base our global presence as the secretary has pointed out. and it's true on, above, and below the seas. by joining the convention, we would help lock in rules that are favorable to our freedom of navigation and our global mobility. third, accession would help secure a truly massive increase in our country's resource and economic jurisdiction.
not only to 00 nautical miles off our coasts, but to a broad extended continental shelf beyond that zone. adding almost another third to our nation in terms of jurisdiction. fourth, accession would ensure our ability to reap the benefits, again, as the secretary has pointed out, of the opening of the arctic. joining the convention would maximize international recognition and acceptance of our substantial extended continental shelf claims in the arctic. and as again pointed out, we're the only arctic nation that is not a party to this convention. more importantly from our navigation and military point of view, accession would secure our freedom of navigation, our freedom of overflight rights throughout the arctic, and it would strengthen the freedom of navigation arguments with respect to the northern sea
route and the northwest passage. and finally, let me say that we at the defense department have gone through an effort to develop a defense strategy for the future. a defense strategy not only for now but into the future, as well. and it emphasizes the strategically vital arc that extends from the western pacific and eastern asia into the indian ocean region and south asia onto the middle east. by not acceding, we undercut our credibility in a number of focused multilateral venues that involve that arc i just defined. we're pushing, for example, for a rules-based order in the region. and the peaceful resolution of maritime and territorial disputes in the south china sea,
in the straits of hormuz and elsewhere. how can we argue, how can we argue that other nations must an abide by international rules when we haven't joined the very treaty that codifies those rules? we would also help strengthen worldwide transit passage rights under international law, and we would further isolate iran as one of the few remaining nonparties to the convention. these are the key reasons from a national security point of view for accession, reasons that are critical to our sovereignty, critical to our national security. again, as the secretary pointed out, i understand the arguments that have been made on the other side, but at the same time, i don't understand the logic of those arguments. the myth that somehow this would surrender u.s. sovereignty, nothing could be further from the truth. not since we acquired the lands
of the american west and alaska have we had such an opportunity to expand u.s. sovereignty. the estimated continental shelf is said to encompass at least 385,000 square miles. 385,000 square miles of sea bed. as i said -- as secretary pointed out, it's 1 1/2 times the size of texas that would be added to our jurisdiction. some claim joining the convention would restrict our military operations and activities, limit our ability to collect intelligence in territorial seas. nothing could be further from the truth. the convention in no way harms our intelligence collection activities. in no way does it constrain our military operations. on the contrary, u.s. ack
session to the convention secures our freedom of navigation and overflight rights as bedrock law. some allege that the convention would subject us to the jurisdiction of the international courts and that this represents a surrendering of our sovereignty. once again, this is not the case. convention provides that a party may declare it does not accept any dispute resolution procedures for disputes concerning military activities. and we would do the same. as so many other nations have chosen, likewise, to do. moreover, it would be up to the united states to decide precisely what constitutes a military activity.
others argue that our maritime operations would be constrained. again, this is simply not the case. u.s. and our partners routinely conduct operations based on u.n. security council resolutions, on treaties, on port control measures and on the inherent right of self defense. the u.s. would be able to continue conducting the full range of maritime interdiction operations. it provides a stable, recognized, legal regime that we need in order to conduct our global operations today and in the future. frankly, i don't think this is a close call. the law of the sea convention is supported, as pointed out, by major u.s. industries, by the chamber of commerce, by our energy oil, ship building, shipping and communications companies, by our fishing interests and by environmental organizations, along with past and present republican and democratic administrations, bipartisan committees of this
committee and the entire national security leadership. we help make our nation more secure and more prosperous for generations to come. america is the strongest power in the world. we have the strongest navy. make no mistake, we have the ability to defend our interests any time, anywhere. but we are strong precisely because we play by the rules. because we play by the rules. for too long, the united states has failed to act on this treaty. for too long, we have undermined our moral and diplomatic authority to fight for our rights and our maritime interests. and for too long we have allowed our inability to act to impair our national security. for that reason it is time now
for the senate to do what others have failed to do, join the law of the sea convention and help us remain the strongest maritime power in the world. thank you. >> mr. secretary, thank you. again, also very important testimony, and we appreciate it very much. and respect the fact you are the first secretary of defense to testify in favor of this treaty. general dempsey? >> thank you, chairman, senator lugar and others on the committee. i join secretary clinton and secretary panetta in offering my support for the law of the sea convention. my voice joins past and present senior defense leaders to include our joint chiefs of staff. is echos every chairman of the squloint chiefs of staff since it was sent to the senate in 1994. this has been so consistent because of what the convention does for our armed forces and for national security. joining the convention would strengthen our ability to have sea power. it codifies the rights and
freedoms necessary to project and sustain our military force. these include the right of transit through international straits, the right to exercise hi high-seas treason and the right of innocent passage through foreign territorial seas and it reinforces the sovereign immunity of our war ships as they conduct operations. by contrast, we currently rely on customary assertive international law. those seeking to bend the customary international law to restrict movement on the oceans and puts our war ships and aircraft on point to constantly challenge claims. we can defend our interests and will do that with military force if necessary, but the force of arms does not have to be and should not be our only national security instrument. joining the convention would provide us another way to stave off conflict with less risk of escalation. the convention also offers us an
opportunity to exercise global leadership. over 160 nations are party to it as you heard, including every permanent member of the u.n. security council and every arctic nation. our absence separates us from our partners and allies. it limits our ability to build coalitions and work cooperatively to solve these pressing security problems that face us. although the terms of the convention are favorable to the united states' interests, we are not positioned to further guide its interpretation nor its implementation. we need to join it in order to strengthen our leadership role in global maritime affairs. to close, america is a maritime nation, both militarily and economically. our prosperity and security depend upon access to the world's ocean. by joining the convention, our forces would enjoy a firmer legal standing for operations on, over and under the world's waters. and it would provide us an additional tool for navigating a and an increasingly complex and
competitive security environment. i look forward to your questions. thank you. >> thank you very much, general. as i mentioned earlier, we will be having -- when i say we, my colleagues, we will be having chief of naval operations and commandant, coast guard, and the commanders of the various forces, all of whom are affected by this, who will come in and be able to answer questions for senators. but general dempsey, if i could ask you, opponents of the convention have argued that u.s. secession is somehow going to lead to an unacceptable restriction on the u.s. military. secretary approximate netta addressed this a little bit. that would harm the u.s. military. this has been a refrain in repeated editorials and elsewhere. i want to ask you questions about that, if i may. first of all, do they know something that you don't know? >> well, i can't speak for them. i know what i know, and i know that it will not do any of the things you just suggested.
>> none? >> none. >> you're certain of that? >> i'm certain of that. >> that's shared with every commander of the various combatant forces? >> it is, sir. you've probably noticed, i'm not exactly dressed exactly as someone who would speak with authority on the issue of maritime operations. but i am a student and, in fact, prior to my testimony and even before, i've made it a point to consult with those who are experts on this and have become to the best of my ability an expert as well. >> president reagan decided in 1983 that the convention's provisions relating to the traditional uses of the oceans generally confirmed existing maritime law and practice and fairly balanced the interest of all states. he, therefore, announced that the united states, including the u.s. military, will act in accordance with those provisions, notwithstanding we hadn't ratified it. has that policy ever changed since president reagan first
made the announcement in 1983? >> it has not changed for the united states military. no, sir. >> so, in light of the fact -- and i ask this of both secretary of defense and you as chairman of the joint chiefs. in light of the fact that we are already following the convention, would joining it require the military to make any change in existing policy or procedure with respect to use of the oceans? >> it would not. >> would it place any restraint whatsoever on any of our strategic goals? >> it would not. >> as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, do you believe joining the convention would harm the u.s. military in any way? >> i do -- i believe it would not harm us in any way. >> and haven't you expressed, mr. secretary -- you've said that rather than harm us, it would, in fact, enhance our strategic goals and our interests? >> it would. it would give us the opportunity to be able to engage when it comes to navigational freedoms
and navigational rights. we can argue for those now. we can do what we do, but very frankly, we have undermined or our moral authority by not having a seat at the table with these nations to make the arguments for these rights. >> i have a letter here for the from the director of national intelligence, clapper, dated may 16th, 2012, in which he confirms that the convention would not prohibit intelligence activities in any way. this is another one of those myths that get thrown out there. i want to enter that letter into the record. the intelligence community made the same confirmation to this committee during the bush administration, did it not, in 2003 and 2007? >> that's correct. >> so, general dempsey and secretary panetta, i would ask you each the same question. do you have any concern or any
belief whatsoever that joining this convention would harm the u.s. military's ability to collect intelligence? >> having been in a key intelligence position and now as secretary of defense, this would in no way inhibit our ability to conduct intelligence operations. >> general dempsey? >> it would not affect our intelligence operations. >> and is it not accurate that the russians are about to send their fifth mission up into the arctic this summer and the chinese are currently laying claims that may, in fact, impinge on u.s. interests and claims? mr. secretary? >> that's correct. >> general dempsey? >> yes, sir. >> and our ability to affect that is, in fact, enhanced by joining the treaty, is it not? >> as i said, sir, the seating to the convention would allow us to have another instrument with which to engage any nation that would potentially threaten our
interests. >> now, mr. secretary, mr. secretary panetta, we've heard arguments also that we don't need the treaty because of customary international law gives us the rights we need. you addressed this to some degree. the whole issue -- i guess codifying a preference for not embracing this treaty, could you speak, general dempsey, and mr. secretary, since you are the direct line commanders for sending people into conflict, how you'll react to the notion that we should just leave aside a legal regimen and rely on the fact that we have the strongest navy and our military force? >> well, first and foremost,
there's no question that we have the strongest navy in the world, but if we're going to engage in diplomacy everywhere we go to assert our rights, the end result of that is going to be conflict and could very well jeopardize our national security if we resort to that as our primary means of asserting our rights. sending the destroyers in, sending the carriers in order to do that. the better approach is to have those carriers, have those destroyers, make very clear the power we have. but then sit down and engage these other countries in a rules-based format that allows us to make the kinds of arguments that we have to make when we engage with 160 other nations as to navigational rights. i mean, that's the way we do it. we are strong because we play by the rules. not because we go against those rules.
>> and, madame secretary, isn't it a fact -- i've certainly run into this in discussions with people. and i think you and i have discussed it. and i think you have, too. the lack of our presence in the treaty is, in fact, thrown at us by various questions today. various countries today. and they needle us about our inability to assert our rights. can you speak to -- let me put partly put that in this context. some opponents of the convention say we don't need it in order to get the legal certainty on the extended continental shelf. we could get it by a series of bilateral agreements like mexico, russia, so forth. could you speak to that? >> first, we have not been able to realize all the potential benefits, because we are not a party to the treaty. we cannot fully secure our sovereign rights to the vast resources of our continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.
we cannot sponsor u.s. companies to mine the deep sea bed for valuable metals and rare earth elements. we cannot count on what's called customary international law, that it won't change or be subject to either being ignored or undermined overtime, that we cannot control because we're not taking our seat at the table. we only get future stability and what the legal framework is if we are party to the convention. and, you know, many of the provisions in trying the convention are very favorable to us. and, you know, finally -- to your point directly, chairman kerry, we do find -- and i certainly personally find that when i am, for example, working on claims to the south china sea
that affect our treaty allies, like the philippines or japan or others, the fact that we are not a party really undermines our position. and i would bet that there are many in the world who hope we never are a party. and they can go on and, you know, plot the way forward, set the rules, enforce them as they choose, putting us further and further at a disadvantage. >> thank you very much. senator lugar? >> thank you, mr. chairman. each of you have been covering the ground that i'm about to cover again, but let me just say that again and again during testimony in 2004, 2007, we had a position that was not being heard, not being understood. let me introduce some of the opposition today so that we have
the benefit. editorial page, b4 of the washington times of tuesday, may 22nd, 2012. frank gaffney writes about the situation. on the other hand the members of the u.s. senate trouble themselves to study or at least to read the text of law sea treaty, to immediately see it for what it is, a diplomatic dinosaur, throwback to a bygone era when u.n. negotiations were dominated by communists, soviet union and their fellow travelers in the third world. these adversaries' agenda was transparent and highway anymore california to equities. they sought to establish control over 70% of the world's surface, create an international governing institution that would serve as a model for bringing national states such as ours -- to heal, and redistribute the plan as wealth from technology from the developed world to themselves.
lost codifies such arrangements to force them to be a stacked deck of adjudication panels. i suggest senators will not read the treaty or other international leaders. i suggest that dick morris and his wife, eileen, who have just published an important book that among other outrages lost as a prime example of the title, "screwed:how foreign countries are ripping off america and philandering our economy and how our leaders helped them do it." so forth. over on the next phase, ed phoner writes, without loss, we are told we are not able to develop the hydrocarbon resources underneath the continental shelf. sounds pretty dire.
fortunately, it's not true. under international law and long-standing u.s. policy, we already have access to these areas. presidents dating back to harry truman have issued proclamations and congress has passed laws establishing america's maritime laws and boundaries, and no one has challenged them. as you pointed out, we do have a navy and perhaps opponents of the treaty would say why get involved in all of this nonsense? send the fleet out. shoot it up. if, in fact, you've got a problem. what is this navy for? now i tried to mention this briefly in my comments. that even a thousand ship level, we cannot cover all of the disputes of the world. in other words, if we're asserting sovereignty, we don't care for these people.
communists who have, in fact, negotiated all this for 70 years and so forth. we have the navy. we don't really have enough navy. what we ought to have then is an additional hearing on how many ships, how much more military budget, how much more infrastructure we need to do it our way. and say let the rest fly by themselves. i take your time to listen to all of this because essentially you presented a very strong case. and people from industry are going to present a strong case. and they will be pilloried as capitalists who are looking out for their own stockholders, for their own interest. once again, without regard to sovereignty and the ability we could shoot it out if we really are up to it. i don't know who else will come in. perhaps we'll have some peaceful types who will say, you know, peace in the world is important. i'm afraid they're going to get
short shrift with regard to this particular argument. how, secretary panetta, would you begin to describe really the military problem here? in other words, we do have the navy and we are not going to stand by. and we are worried about the south china sea and all of our asian allies are coming, and we're placing marines in australia, and we're pivoting, as you describe it, policy. what are the limitations, if there are any, to our ability to just shoot it out? >> well, senator lugar, again, i think it is a question of looking at the facts that we're dealing with. the fact is that we're dealing with a world in which there are a myriad of threats that we confront now.
this is -- you know, we're not just dealing with the soviet union. we're dealing with a myriad of threats in the south china sea, rising powers in the pacific, with north korea, with iran, with transit in the straits of hormuz, with turmoil in the middle east, with a whole series of challenges, not to mention war, not to mention terrorism. all of those are the threats that we confront. and the reality is that we are now in a world in which, frankly, in order to be able to deal with that myriad of challenges, it isn't enough for the united states navy to go wandering around the world, asserting its strength as a way to solve that myriad of problems and threats i just defined. the only way we're going to do that in this world is to have alliances with our countries and deal with another approach so that other countries, as well,
understand the threats they confront and deal with those threats. that's the kind of world we're part of. that's the kind of world we live in. it's for that reason that the law of the seas becomes important, because it is one of those vehicles in which to engage the world. if 160 nations have ack seeded to it, and we say to hell with them, then 160 nations are going to determine what happens in terms of the law of the sea, and we won't be there. so that's the reason, from a national security point of view, from a very practical point of view, from the point of view of what's in the best interests of the united states that we have to accede to this convention. so we are part of a rules-based order. every time we argue with iran, we argue with north korea, we argue on the basis that they're not abiding by international