Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has endorsed the problematic Law of the Sea Treaty, arguing that it will improve America's position in the ongoing skuffle for territory near the North Pole. Interestingly, the treaty itself is at least partly responsible for the Arctic conflict. David Sands explains:
A key provision of the treaty gives coastal states exclusive rights to maritime resources within 230 miles of their shoreline. But signatories can nearly double their territorial claim if they can prove to a Law of the Sea tribunal that their underwater continental shelf extends beyond the coast.
Many countries, including Russia, face a 2009 deadline to submit a final scientific claim for the extent of their continental shelves—and thus for their right to exclusive privileges further into the ocean. U.S. treaty supporters like Mrs. Murkowski say the U.S. will be cut out of the boundary wars if it does not ratify the treaty soon.
But the 2009 deadline also has sparked just the kind of the disorderly rush to put down markers that the treaty's drafters had once hoped to head off….
"The perception in Russia now is that there's a real geopolitical competition going on in [the Arctic]," [Pavel] Baev said. "You need to move fast to advance your claim because it's every nation for itself."
An alternative narrative for liberal readers: Blame it on global warming.
Canada has been among the most aggressive nations in asserting its Arctic territorial claims and is in a sharp debate with the U.S. over Ottawa's claim that it controls the Northwest Passage waterway. The fabled sea route, futilely sought five centuries ago by European explorers, has become a live issue once again as accelerated melting of the Arctic ice caps could soon make the strait navigable for significant portions of the year.