In 1990 the Associated Press reported that a group called State Department Watch made it its business to claim

Think About It……   (Retraction)                                                                               April 5, 2012

Our Think About It feature aired yesterday on April 4th was in error.

In 1990 the Associated Press reported that a group called State Department Watch made it its business to claim that the eight islands off of the coast of Alaska and Russia were “100% American” and are still pressing that argument today.

Despite the objections of the organization the US Senate ratified “a treaty establishing the current maritime boundary between the Soviet Union (now Russia) in 1991. The vote was a lopsided 86 to 6.  Our Senators Stevens and Murkowski both Republicans, voted in favor of ratification.

Voting against the treaty boundaries which took away the islands from Alaskan waters were Senators John McCain, Chuck Grassley and four other Republicans led by Jesse Helms.

The treaty did not specifically cede sovereignty over the islands to the Soviets but merely clarified the location of the maritime boundary to settle squabbles over fishing rights and undersea mineral and oil rights. Nevertheless, Helms and the other senators said they would vote against it because “I doubt that the State Department will make use of the opportunity to press U.S. claims to the islands…..even though that right is preserved.

Sure enough, no president or secretary of state has shown any interest in disputing the Soviet/Russian claim to Wrangel Isand or the others. Which brings us to the present accusation by the group that President Obama is somehow giving away something the US has never claimed to own anyway. How can that be?

For one thing, the maritime boundary treaty has never been ratified by the Russians which is required for it to take full force. Ironically, in view of claims of a US “giveaway” it is the Russians who have sought to renegotiate the terms of the boundary treaty on the grounds that they give up too much to the United States. Other Russian officials have voiced their opposition to the treaty not only because if lost fishing opportunities, but also due to the loss of potential oil and gas fields and naval passage for submarines.

One thing is obvious, it is an old issue.  World Net Daily published on July 29, 2008 and article critical of the State Department for the “island giveaway”. Of course, Republican George W. Bush….not Obama….was president at the time and his administration in their official Arctic Region Policy  stated that the US would abide by the 1990 maritime agreement and continue to urge the Russian Federation to ratify it.

It is simply false to claim that Obama, or his State Department, is “giving away” islands to which no US president has asserted  United States rightful claim, for more than 85 years.

Think About It         JCD   4-5-12

Categories: Think About It

About Author