A lot of people seem to think that this formal – or form – letter by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke “certifying” that Iceland is in violation of the International Whaling Convention’s moratorium on, well, whaling is a fairly significant step in getting Iceland to choose between whaling and sanctions; but if you read it, you’ll see that Iceland’s been certified as being in violation for almost a decade now. Despite breathless commentary like this of sanctions being threatened (or even about to be threatened), nothing of the sort has happened.
Here’s what Locke actually recommended:
With this certification, I am recommending that you consider the following actions: (1) direct relevant U.S. delegations attending meetings with Iceland and senior Administration officials visiting Iceland to raise U.S. concerns regarding commercial whaling by Icelandic companies and seek ways to halt such action; (2) direct Cabinet secretaries to evaluate the appropriateness of visits to Iceland depending on continuation of the current suspension of fin whaling; (3) direct the Department of State to examine Arctic cooperation projects, and where appropriate, link U.S. cooperation to the Icelandic Government changing its whaling policy and abiding by the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling; (4) direct the Departments of Commerce and State to consult with other international actors on efforts to end Icelandic commercial whaling and have Iceland abide by the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling; (5) direct the Department of State to inform the Government of Iceland that the United States will continue to monitor the activities of Icelandic companies that engage in commercial whaling; and (6) direct relevant U.S. agencies to continue to examine other options for responding to continued whaling by Iceland. Further, I recommend that you direct the relevant Departments and offices to report to you on their actions within six months, unless Icelandic nationals resume fin whaling prior to that time, in which case immediately upon resumption of fin whaling by Icelandic nationals.
Note that Iceland isn’t actually whaling, mostly because Japan ain’t buying, because Japan has more important things to worry about right now than subsidizing attempts to get a taste for whale meat going among its populace. But even if they were, we’re still firmly in the Sending Serious Notes Stage of things. Which is to say, doing nothing.
Anyway: there are times when I simply do not understand this administration at all. Can I let the Left in on something, here? I mean, I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again: when it comes to Save The Whales… you guys won. We’re on board. We’re with the program. To more or less mangle the Terry Pratchett quote… I grew up with the understanding that the whales were to be saved, in much the same way that I grew up with the understanding that I was to breathe oxygen and walk upright. This exercise in societal modification took place across the country en masse, and its success can be measured by the fact that I know that it was at bottom a propaganda exercise that was based on blatant emotional manipulation by the tree-huggers and I don’t really care. I mean, what the heck: Save The Whales! Win valuable prizes!
So, I’m just saying here that a moratorium on whaling isn’t exactly controversial in this country. So why isn’t the administration going for the very, very, very, very, very, very cheap win among his base, here?