As we come closer to the time when amendments to the Convention are contemplated, it is absolutely essential that we have a voice in that process. One of the basic principles I try to engrain in my officers is the idea that in any negotiation, the first person to get his ideas down in writing or, as we say, the first person to get the chalkboard, has a tremendous advantage. One forces others to work from one's own text and ideas. It is important to set the baseline and make others fight away from it. Well, I can say that I do not know how we can be first to the chalkboard if we do not even have a seat at the debate when these amendments come up, if they come up. In our current status as a nonparty, we will not be in the room. We will not have a seat, much less a voice.
Even decades ago, I do not think that this would have been an acceptable position for the United States, given our historic reliance on global and maritime commerce. Today, it is completely unacceptable. Ostriches, as they say, may bury their heads in the sand, but they are on land; they are not dependent upon water in a global maritime regime. On the other hand, if we try to bury our head and go it alone in our modern global maritime climate, we will drown.