WARMING TO THE LAW OF THE SEA VIA THE ARCTIC?….The United States joined four other countries that border the Arctic Sea in Ilulissat, Greenland, this week to work out ways to deal with the Arctic’s growing accessibility as the ice thins. The other four are Denmark, Russia, Canada and Norway.

As the ice melts, commercial shipping passage becomes possible, along with oil exploration. Russia recently set a flag on the North Pole’s seafloor to illustrate their claims.

The United States has resisted ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention, the Republicans and Libertarians holding out in the name of St. Ronnie, although President Bush has recommended its ratification in his diffident way. But the Russian feat may have woken someone up.

The United States was represented at the conference by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte. That’s pretty high up the line. He is also urging Congress to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention.

The agreement reached at the meeting follows the Convention’s requirements. But it’s not clear to me how that will hold up if the United States stays out of the Convention.