Editor's Note: This column was coauthored by Bob Morrison.
Sen. Dick Lugar’s defeat in a Republican primary this week has not been attributed, as nearly as we can tell, to his 1979 trip to Moscow with Joe Biden. Then, the two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee left the bosses of the Kremlin with the distinct impression that they cared about arms control and not so much about human rights. Claire Berlinsky’s article in the Spring 2010 issue of City Journal ought to be disqualifying. Nor, it seems, did the senator’s spearheading of the ill-advised START treaty with the Russians in a lame-duck session in December 2010 lead to his loss by a stunning 61% to 39% vote to a TEA Party-backed challenger.
Last week’s primary seems to have turned on Lugar’s 36-year tenure, the addition of some $13 trillion in debt while he held his seat, most of that time as Indiana’s senior senator. As he conceded the election, Lugar sternly cautioned the victor, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, on bi-partisanship, on the need to compromise to get things done.
Bi-partisanship is fine when it is based on real principle. We can point to the Reagan tax cuts, the welfare reform bills, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as examples of fruitful, principled bipartisanship. The Senate was right to ratify President Reagan’s INF Treaty with the Soviets. Conservatives should not reflexively reject all bi-partisanship or oppose any international treaties.
But the so-called Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) needs to be extensively modified if not rejected altogether. Thirty years ago, President Reagan wisely shelved this UN project. He viewed it, as most Americans who have serious concerns about that world body viewed it, as a typical example of liberal internationalist globaloney. Jimmy Carter, probably sensing that he would get the boot from American voters, began trolling for votes on the Nobel Peace Prize committee through such ill-considered measures.
First, we need to throw overboard any “International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.” The UN would choose this maritime court. How do we like the UN Human Rights Council? That body contains such human rights offenders as China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and, until it was just too blatantly obvious to continue, Libya.