Lord Monckton, Ambassador Bolton, and the Copenhagen Treaty: Reflections on a Conversation
On October 30th, Lord Christopher Monckton and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton appeared across the table from one another on Glenn Beck’s Fox News television program. If you haven’t yet seen the program, the segments can be viewed here. The conversation between Monckton and Bolton remained quite friendly, but an interesting dichotomy emerged that should have Americans thinking.
Monckton has not beaten about the bush in speaking out against the Copenhagen treaty the U.N. is pushing toward in December. He was no less clear in speaking to Beck and Bolton. The treaty draftas it stands now provides for the establishment of an unelected body-a government, in the language of the treaty-that would have unprecedented powers. Furthermore, if ratified by a two-thirds majority in Congress, the treaty-or, more properly, the Framework Convention on Climate Change-would supercede the United States Constitution.
When asked to comment on Monckton’s assessment, John Bolton quickly pointed out that a draft is only a draft, and this one contains much bracketed language still in negotiation. We must wait, he cautioned, to see what is in the final document before determining how great a danger the treaty represents.
For his command of world affairs and his clear-sighted approach to U.N. nonsense, John Bolton has earned my utter respect. Moreover, he is right that we cannot know to what this treaty would truly bind us until we see a final draft. That said, on the issue of the Copenhagen treaty, I’m not certain that Bolton is taking all possibilities into account.
Certainly, Bolton understands that signing the treaty would be a mistake on the part of the United States. He stated as much. Yet he seems to suspect that the treaty will be negotiated down to much weaker terms and that our Senate might not ratify it regardless. He did not want to underestimate the danger to American sovereignty posed by our “post-national” president and his love of multi-national agreements. However, he asserted that it was important to evaluate matters on an incident-by-incident basis. As Bolton perceives things, death to sovereignty would more likely come via a thousand small cuts.
Let us presume for the moment that Bolton is right. Even so, making a small compromise in a nation’s sovereignty is like a single carpenter ant getting loose in the walls of a house. Soon, that one little ant will notify the rest of his colony about the palatial buffet he’s found and lead others there to join him. Substantial damage will already have occurred by the time one can finally see evidence of it.
Consider the European Union. Its 27 members have, over time, entered one treaty here, another agreement there-all presented as beneficial, of course. But in fact, as Monckton pointed out, these agreements have progressively chipped away at the rights of formerly sovereign governments and their citizenry. The E.U. now formulates, regulates, and enforces nearly every kind of policy imaginable-over and above any laws that exist within the individual member states.
Sovereignty matters. It guarantees that a nation can continue to self-determine-to decide in all respects what lies in the best interests of its own citizens and to act accordingly. It permits a nation to guard its own traditions, to respond most nimbly to its circumstances, and to tailor solutions that work for its own people. Such choices, by their very essence, engender freedom.
Even in draft form, the Copenhagen treaty provides solid evidence that the U.N. has a very different idea about what lies in the best interests of the United States than most Americans would. In fact, I submit that the treaty doesn’t have the best interests of the United States in mind at all. Even if the treaty’s language is much watered down by December, one can be sure of two things. First, some language will remain that would have negative implications or consequences for the United States. Second, the treaty will be the foot in the door the U.N. needs in order to keep coming back for more. So, even if, as Bolton posits, the treaty largely “kicks the can down the road,” real danger lies in the possibility that small concessions made at Copenhagen would provide enough leverage to do greater damage in the future. The insignificant compromises that don’t seem to matter together add up to a serious loss of rights and freedoms that cannot easily be regained.
Beck fully grasps this concept and, along with it, the danger of brokering agreements just for the sake of it. At one point in the discussion, he cited Mitt Romney’s deal-making to create CommonwealthCare, a socialized medicine scheme in Massachusetts that has since become a millstone in every sense. Returning to the subject of the Copenhagen treaty, he turned to Monckton and ventured, “We’re opening up a door here that we don’t want to open.” Monckton immediately agreed with him.
The question Monckton ultimately posed to John Bolton and indeed to the rest of us: “Do you really want to take the risk with your Constitution?” The answer must be no, particularly given the expansion of powers this administration is implementing within the executive branch.
In regard to this expansion of executive powers and how it could affect our entry into foreign agreements, two issues broached by his Lordship should keep Americans extremely vigilant.
First, Monckton referred to the Law of the Sea treaty, which governs mineral extraction from areas of seabed beyond territorial waters. Ronald Reagan had refused to sign this well-known document when first floated in 1982. He balked at its provision for an international tribunal that would have infringed on U.S. sovereignty in several ways, including the levying of an international tax. Bill Clinton finally did sign the agreement in 1994, but the Senate refused to ratify it. Monckton relayed, however, that certain parties within the State Department continue to insist that the simple act of signing the treaty bound us to its provisions. “Your own bureaucrats,” he argued, “are going to say, even if [Obama] just signs it, that it is binding. So you’ve got to be very careful not to sign anything.”
Bolton affirmed that some within the State Department do indeed take exactly the view elucidated by Monckton. However, he clarified that the treaty remained unenforceable as policy. Referring back to Copenhagen, Bolton observed that the signing “is entirely out of our hands” and that our protection lies in the Senate.
But does it really…? The Senate currently leans decidedly to the left; Blue Dog Democrats remain notoriously undependable; and a very progressive leadership has repeatedly shown a willingness to use all sorts of tricks to pass unsavory legislation. Beck, likewise, seems skittish about putting much faith in the current Senate. He pointed out to the former ambassador that many in Congress don’t even look at the Constitution anymore or find it relevant. I would add that, not having any great familiarity with the document’s content or rationale, legislators likewise demonstrate no loyalty to the oath they’ve sworn to uphold it. Still Bolton stuck doggedly to the idea that the two-thirds super-majority in the Senate would make it very difficult to pass a treaty harmful to the interests of the United States. Under any other circumstances one might be more inclined to agree with him. But here, too, Monckton’s words, “Don’t take the risk,” ring loudly. This Senate’s majority leadership has demonstrated a keen willingness to use both bullying and underhanded tactics in an effort to get its way. Meanwhile, as discussed in greater detail below, it’s minority has manifested relative ignorance at some crucial moments.
Monckton additionally hypothesized that the careful manner in which the Copenhagen treaty has been wordsmithed might well allow President Obama to sign it as an “executive agreement.” Given the president’s penchant for subsuming legislative powers under his own branch of government, such a move is not entirely outside the realm of possibility. In any event, while signing might have little meaning today, it well could in the future. If the president continues to enhance executive powers and weaken the legislative branch, those factions in the State Department who see signed but unratified agreements as binding could assume much greater clout-however illegitimately that might occur.
While Bolton has a strong understanding of President Obama’s radical leanings, he fails fully to figure into his assessments the inroads the administration has already made to changes in governmental structure. Bolton presumes that our present system of checks and balances will continue to exist. No such assurances exist. Indeed, both houses of Congress seem all too willing to vote themselves into irrelevance.
The confirmation of Cass Sunstein as “Regulatory Czar” points quite prominently to this precise trend. Had anyone bothered to read Sunstein’s book Nudge before his confirmation hearing, they might have realized that he intended to elbow Congress out of a job. In it, he suggests that small, incremental changes in regulation can push a population toward policies they would otherwise strenuously resist. Passing broad, loosely-worded legislation permits the achievement of exactly such ends-with Sunstein and those under him positioned to do the regulatory tweaking that will achieve desired ends. Again, such a strategy gradually circumvents not only the will of the people but also the authority of Congress.
However, the international community is unquestionably stepping up the pressure to get a deal done at Copenhagen, and from the sounds of it, no one is talking about watering anything down. President Obama’s Energy Secretary, Steven Chu started the ball rolling on October 27th, testifying before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and banging the climate change “danger drum” for the billionth time. Not surprisingly, he cited all sorts of statistics pulled from faulty research and now-discredited computer models (see below).
A few days later, on November 3rd, a contingent of 55 African nations boycotted a full day of U.N. negotiations in Barcelona, insisting that wealthy countries commit to much more substantial carbon emission reductions. The boycott received backing from a great number of other nations in its insistence that wealthy nations commit to a reduction of carbon emissions to 40% below 1990 levels. These demandsoutstrip even those substantial amounts for which the treaty already calls. The boycott ended the following day with the message that the African coterie would reinstate it if suitable progress toward their demands was not forthcoming.
On the same day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood before Congress to put in her own fervent plug for a substantial agreement at Copenhagen. She hauled out all of the usual global warming scare tactics: “Icebergs are melting in the Arctic. In Africa, people become refugees because their environment has been destroyed. We need an agreement on one objective: Global warming must not exceed two degrees Celsius.”
Nope. Doesn’t really seem much like any of the parties pushing for this treaty are backing down.
Certainly, different people have different aims where this treaty is concerned. Let us, at least cursorily, consider those aims. Steven Chu, as part of the Obama administration, wants the United States committed to more global agreements. The Africans want the money that they believe “climate debt” reparations and additional penalties would yield them. Merkl, like so many European heads of state, most likely looks to weaken the position of the United States in the world. While much of Europe loves to depend on us to do the heavy-lifting when it comes to military and humanitarian action, it’s an open secret that they resent what has been-up until now-our global primacy.
Regardless of what the various parties seek, they aim to achieve their ends via a treaty predicated upon deception. Responding to Secretary Chu’s October 27th address in a communication last week, Lord Monckton again made this point plain by offering up recent, careful studies that call the U.N.’s “science” into question-work of which the general public may not be aware.
A series of papers, among them Douglass et al. (2008), have exposed the poor methodology behind the development of computer models that supposedly measure and predict global warming. The recently published, painstaking work of Lindzen and Choi (2009) demonstrates that, contrary to the indications of these faulty models, gasses are escaping from our atmosphere out into space at much the rate they always have. The work of Paltridge et al. (2009) provides the reason: It turns out that water vapor concentration-a key component in the temperature feedbacks presumed to reinforce initial warming-does not pose a problem afterall. Another paper currently on its way to publication, Spencer and Braswell (2009) counters the notion of the albedo feedback. The pair have now demonstrated that clouds don’t amplify initial warming supposedly resulting from increased CO2 levels. Rather they reflect more sunlight back into space, substantially offsetting any initial warming.
Another major crack in the global warming wall formed yesterday with John Broder’s front-page November 2nd article in the New York Times. Broder picked up a line of investigation that NewsBusters has been covering for some time concerning Al Gore’s “green” investments. The most egregious aspect of these investments is not so much that Gore is making money from green technology while claiming to be the world’s leading champion of environmentalism but rather how he is making it – by influencing policy. The phrase “conflict of interest” doesn’t quite seem to cover all that’s wrong with this unseemly scenario.
Even ABC is beginning to question the true nature and degree of Gore’s commitment to the environmental cause. Recently Glenn Beck challenged Gore, noting that if he were indeed serious about saving the planet, he should stop with the beef and switch to tofu burgers. Any die-hard environmentalist knows that eating meat is far worse for the environment than driving an SUV. When Diane Sawyer confronted Gorewith this video clip and asked him whether he planned to stop eating meat, he looked distinctly uncomfortable and gave a rather inconsistent response. Asking Gore a follow-up about his recent purchase of coastal property in California would have been a slam-dunk, but I’ll take what I can get. Thank you, Diane.
The debunking of bad science-along with the actual, non-environmental motives of the U.N., its various member states, and Mr. Gore-should create a clear body of evidence that Copenhagen has nothing whatsoever to do with actually saving the planet. Anyone looking at its stated purpose should therefore back decisively away from the document…unless of course they have dishonest motives of their own. To be clear, President Obama does have dishonest motives. He wants this international agreement not because it will save the earth but instead, and precisely, because it will help in one manner or another, either quickly or slowly, to destroy the sovereignty of the United States.
Ambassador Bolton has aptly labeled Obama as the first “post-nationalist” president. While other leaders have perhaps made unwise decisions in our international relations, Obama seems to be the first president so plainly resistant to the idea of our continued ability to self-determine. Whether our current leader signs a strong or a weak version of this treaty-and whether the Senate ratifies it or not – if President Obama should continue in his purposeful pattern of strengthening the executive branch at the expense of the legislative, Copenhagen will represent a problem of one kind or another in the not-so-distant future. The loss of our precious system of checks and balances will virtually guarantee it – though Ambassador Bolton may not yet fully have considered that possibility.