torsdag 25. mai 2017

U.S. Ratification of the Law of the Sea: Convention Measuring the raison d’État in the Trump era.

When at the steps of the Louvre, turn your gaze toward Rue de Rivoli, to a work of Parisian art, the Palais-Royal (originally the Palais-Cardinal), the former residence of Cardinal Richelieu. Richelieu is credited with articulating the principle of raison d’État, the national interest, as a transcendent entity, an ideal above and beyond the private concern of statesmen. As Louis VIII’s chief minister, during the religious wars of the 17th century, he rose above confessional loyalties, allying Catholic France with Protestant powers in order to maintain the European balance of power. In the Testament Politique, Richelieu’s political manual, he observed: “The public interest must be the sole end of the prince and his councilors.”

In Washington today, we have the opportunity to assess the raison d’État as defined by the current U.S. leadership: the new Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Congress. One significant measure will be whether the United States finally ratifies the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (“UNCLOS” or the “Convention”), the comprehensive treaty regime that governs activities on, above and below the world’s oceans. Although the United States was an original architect of the treaty, Senate advice and consent to ratification has remained stalled through three successive presidential administrations. For more than 20 years the national interest has fallen victim to the confessional nature, the hardened doctrinarism, of modern American politics.