Cliff Kincaid, the president of the group America's Survival, argued, "Our national survival is at stake. Our sovereignty is at risk and in danger. We need your immediate help to avert a catastrophe." This is what Richard Hofstadter called the "paranoid style in American politics": the fearful suspicions and conspiratorial fantasies found throughout American history, from Salem witches to Communists. Kincaid warned, "If we don't defeat this treaty, the battle against the New World Order will be lost."
Worryingly, UN Derangement Syndrome has infected some wider elements of American conservatism. Dick Morris argued that a plot to create "one world government" is "happening." Donald Rumsfeld wrote in his memoirs that the Law of the Sea: "would put all natural resources found in the seabeds of international waters ... into the hands of what was ominously called the International Seabed Authority." If the Senate ratifies the treaty, Stephen Groves wrote, the U.S. Treasury will be "raided for billions of dollars," which will then be "redistributed to the rest of the world by an international bureaucracy."
Twenty-seven Republican senators signed a letter opposing ratification of the treaty -- just seven votes short of enough to block passage. They say that the treaty would undermine U.S. "maritime security," redistribute wealth "from developed to undeveloped nations," create "environmental regulation over virtually all sources of pollution," and surrender American sovereignty to a "supranational government."
It's a terrifying vision -- but, fortunately, it's largely the product of overheated imagination. Consider the broad coalition that backs the Law of the Sea, and you might be reassured that it's not as scary as its critics portray it to be. Supporters include our national allies and the Democratic Party. The U.S. Navy strongly supports the treaty, which it says will enshrine rights of navigation and protect national security. Every major U.S. industry that works in the ocean is in favor, including shipping, fishing, telecommunications, and energy companies, because legal certainty will make it much easier for them to invest millions of dollars in offshore enterprises. And much of the Republican Party backs the treaty, including George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Richard Lugar, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice.
Those beset by UN Derangement Syndrome are particularly fearful of the "ominous" International Seabed Authority, which manages claims to deep-sea resources in areas beyond national jurisdictions. So let's take a closer look at this supposedly nefarious organization.
Historically, those who've tried to take over the world -- Napoleon or Hitler, say -- usually started out in the Eurasian heartland. The ISA, however, has the trickier task of achieving global domination from its headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica. Money is also going to be a problem. The ISA has an annual budget of $6 million -- about a fifth of what the Yankees pay Alex Rodriguez each year. Its staff of 35 people would struggle to field a softball team, much less form a world government. The ISA oversees a handful of businesses that explore for polymetallic nodules, and promotes research on marine science. These seemingly innocent activities could be covering up a vast socialist conspiracy -- but if the staff members are hiding anything, they're probably playing hooky at the Jamaican beach.