Some of the leading opponents of the Law of the Sea have, ironically, feel very strongly that we should trust the judgments of military personnel on military matters.
"I don't think it's too much to expect for our leaders in Washington to keep an open mind and get the facts before drawing their conclusions. I, like the other 534 members of Congress, am not a General and do not presume to be. That is why I will yield to the judgement of a competent, objective, military leader in forming my opinion..." - at Captain's Quarters blog, 9/17/2007
Jim DeMint, who is fast establishing himself as the George Allen of the 110th Congress with his instinctive opposition to international institutions and problems keeping facts straight (he suggested at one point in today's Law of the Sea hearing that the U.S. is fulfilling its obligations under Kyoto while others are freeloading):
"Right now, our commander in chief and those he commands are daring greatly and our brave warriors are paying with blood, sweat and tears. Yet, many in Congress prefer to sit in the arena stands and offer scorn rather than support.
"Instead, many of my colleagues prefer to support a nonbinding resolution that expresses disapproval of the president's plan to reinforce our troops in Iraq.
"Voting for such a resolution is not leadership; it is criticism -- criticism without offering alternative solutions.
"Voting to condemn the president's plan is a vote of no confidence in the mission that we have told our troops to carry out. It is also a smack to the face of Gen. David Patraeus..." - in the Politico, 2/6/2007
Apparently, the right wing's faith in military leaders stops at the water's edge. Both Inhofe and DeMint oppose U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea, which the President, civilian military leaders, and commanders say unambiguously will help them fulfill their missions and keep American service members safe.
Dick Lugar put it much more eloquently at today's hearing on the Law of the Sea. Lugar is usually understated and is generally inclined more to seek consensus than provoke confrontation. Today, though, he stood up to his ideological opponents and knocked one out of the park:
"The Commander-in-Chief, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the United States Navy, in time of war, are asking the Senate to give its advice and consent to this treaty. Our uniformed commanders and civilian national security leadership are telling us, unanimously and without qualification, that U.S. accession to the treaty will help them do their job.
"We have charged the U.S. Navy with maintaining sea lanes and defending our nation's interests on the high seas. They do this every day, and even in peacetime these operations carry considerable risk. The Navy is telling us that U.S. membership in the Law of the Sea Convention is a tool that they need to maximize their ability to protect U.S. national security with the least risk to the men and women charged with this task.
"Mr. Chairman, the military is not always right. But the overwhelming presumption in the United States Senate has been that if our Amred Forces and our entire National Security apparatus ask us for something to help them achieve a military mission, we do our best to provide them with just that tool within the constraints of law and responsible budgeting."
And finally, the hypocrisy shines through:
"In recent weeks we have heard a great deal of advocacy about the necessity of heeding the advice of our military leaders as they seek to carry out the missions we have given them. Senators rose to declare that General Petraeus, an acknowledged counterinsurgency expert, was better positioned and trained to assess our progress in Iraq than critics in Congress. In the coming debate on Law of the Sea, we should be similarly respectful of the expertise of military commanders. "
(As delivered; hyperlink to statement not yet active)
Hypocrisy has become so commonplace among isolationist conservatives that it doesn't always register, but this time it's too blatant to ignore. Those most vocal about giving the President and the military a blank check to put troops and treasure on the line in Iraq are also dead-set against giving them the tools they need to protect and enable the Armed Forces at sea.
I'll try to get some more updates up on yesterday's hearing. More details on Bolton and his Law of the Sea lobbying on the way, too.