Roll Over Reagan: On Naming US EEZ After Ronnie

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 9/13/2012 09:37:00 AM
Readers familiar with maritime disputes will of course know that the United States has not signed on to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) even now. While UNCLOS was introduced by the United Nations during the term of President Reagan, he was one of the leading voices against signing on since it would limit American sovereignty. Reflecting that quintessentially conservative American tone, he derided UNCLOS as "socialism run amok" and a "third world giveaway." Unfortunately, this sort of self-interested reasoning is also behind the US not signing on to several other meaningful UN conventions alike those on gender equality and the use of land mines. What's the point in having UN headquarters in a country which doesn't particularly like the institution?

To be sure, there are political-economic costs to this sort of American isolation. Witness Hillary Clinton's wishes that Asian nations contesting the dominion over the South China Sea resolve their conflicts by applying international maritime law. Which, of course, is exceptionally hypocritical even by US standards of incredulity since the US has not even ratified UNCLOS. There is also the danger of the Yanks losing out in the Arctic land grab as warmer temperatures up north makes it more feasible to drill for fossil fuels in the near future since they have no legal justification for making territorial claims.

Interestingly though, some US lawmakers are keen on honouring Reagan by naming the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) he identified after him--which is actually similar to that under UNCLOS provisions of extending 200 nautical miles from the US coastline. In effect, it would be another celebration of the US flouting international law--the sponsor is a Republican--and making rules for itself. Aside from being amenable to signing on to UNCLOS in general, Democrats reflexively abhor all this Ronnie-mania:
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) isn’t on board with fellow Californian Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R) push to name millions of square miles of ocean waters after the late Republican President Ronald Reagan. “I never thought they should have re-named National Airport [after Reagan], so I don’t think they ought to be re-naming large bodies of water after him,” Waxman said in the Capitol Wednesday.

Issa is pushing legislation that would name the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone – which extends 200 miles off U.S. coastlines – after Reagan, who established the EEZ by presidential proclamation in 1983. Waxman called Issa’s effort part of a broader trend. “There has been a campaign for deification of Ronald Reagan by the Republicans for some years now, since he has passed away particularly, and this is part of that effort,” he said.

“They would like to name everything on earth that they can get a hold of ... because his legacy is the only thing they have going for them,” Waxman said Issa’s bill is before the House Natural Resources Committee, and a committee aide said it is not yet clear if it will receive a vote.
It's odd but Americans not only like being isolated but many of them actually celebrate it. Why do Republicans in particular waste time on such frivolities when they could actually be working towards signing up to UNCLOS? Alike in so many other things, their priorities are warped.