The Political Ocean

Throughout written history the ocean has been a chancy source of food, a highway for trade and conquest, a battleground and a source of pleasure and recreation. It has been mostly a two-dimensional environment for which there has grown up a respectable body of law and precedent whose geopolitical significance and diplomatic utility are clearly understood. But now man is extending his reach into the third dimension, and traditional concepts of freedom of the high seas and of territorial waters are confounded by situations without precedent. Friend and foe alike join together at sea for common scientific purposes. Increasingly man is turning to the depths of the sea to meet the varied needs of his civilization ashore. International waters have become a matter of both national and private corporate interest. Conversely, private interests on and under the high seas have now become a matter of worldwide, multinational interest-as have those things that nations and individuals do along their own shorelines.

Looking just a little bit ahead, moreover, it is clearly evident that the things we now set out to do in the ocean will change the world as we know it-not so much geographically as economically, politically, demographically, climatologically and technologically. It is an alchemy, in fact, that has already begun and the rate of reaction is itself accelerating. Thus it is that in the world of international affairs, as well, the ocean assumes new dimensions-involving new problems and opportunities.

Consider that whatever level of social, political, technological and industrial order we have achieved, indeed whatever we have wrought, is the result mainly of our efforts in exploring and utilizing the physical assets of rather less than a third of our planet's surface. For dry land-the continents and the islands-constitutes slightly less than 30 percent of the area of the earth. The rest is water-a rigorous and complex fluid continuum known as the World Ocean, which until recently man utilized only superficially. If in the past it served largely to separate peoples

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