U.S. inability to protect naval freedoms through UNCLOS has already cost American lives
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The Law of the Sea Convention is a key weapon in this struggle for our oceans’ freedom. The United States won through the negotiations the core elements of that freedom. To abandon that win is the legal equivalent of unilateral disarmament for the United States in the struggle for freedom of the seas. The price we will pay through time for any such error in judgment will be high. In essence the critics who would have us abandon a rule of law in the world’s oceans may effectively be asking American servicemen and women someday to pay with their lives for the absence of such a rule of law. This is not mere hyperbole; already disputes about the oceans regime have cost American lives. Thus, an American aircraft in lawful overflight of the high seas was forced down by Peru in asserting an illegal claim over an extended area of the seas. More recently, harassment by Chinese fighters brought down a United States aircraft engaged in lawful activities under the 1982 Convention. And, at minimum, the economic cost of new naval configurations designed to get around a creeping loss of freedom – possibly with required pay-offs to coastal states – could be considerable.