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Lugar Loses and So Does the World

Sen. Richard Lugar

Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana lost his Republican primary yesterday to Tea Party backed conservative Richard Mourdock, after more than 35 years in the Senate. His defeat is not just a defeat for Lugar and his supporters, but a defeat for American national security and indeed the entire world. In the words of fellow Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Senator John Kerry, "It will soon almost sound cliché to say that America is safer today because of Dick Lugar's 36 years of service in the Senate, but it really does bear repeating."

Lugar's challenger, Richard Mourdock, said in his victory speech, that his campaign was about ideas for the future of both the Republican Party and our nation as a whole. Unfortunately, Mourdock's win is part of a disturbing pattern of election victories for Tea Party ideas, of unilateralists over more moderate, internationally minded Republicans.

Partisanship used to end at our nations shores. Now, partisanship permeates Capitol Hill like a festering disease. It has become increasingly more difficult for non-partisan organizations, like, to find partners on both sides of the aisle who understand that international cooperation is essential to build a safer and more secure world. In our latest Congressional Report Card, House and Senate Democrats averaged an A-, while House Republicans averaged a D-. Senate Republicans fared worse than their House colleagues with an F. This is because we have lost internationally minded GOP friends like Lugar, Mike Castle, Jim Leach, Chuck Hagel and retiring Senator Olympia Snow. 

When political parties refuse to work together and compromise, it is impossible to have a strong and clear vision on foreign policy and national security, endangering our nation's safety. We're skating on thin ice.

Pull 'em Together Harry

Harry Reid

As posted on the Huffington Post:

Harry, it looks like you defied the odds in Nevada and are going to be in D.C. for another six years. Amen. But winning elections is one thing. If you seriously want to prove that you still have the chops to remain Majority leader in the next Congress, it's time to get serious about finishing the current Congress on a winning consensus-building note.

While there are certainly many important issues on your plate that are far from guaranteed, why not show your true leadership skills? Pass the New START nuclear draw-down treaty. It has strong bipartisan support and is a security no-brainer.

In just a few weeks, it will have been an entire year since President Reagan's START I treaty expired and U.S. inspectors were dismissed from Russian nuclear facilities. Its replacement, New START, allows us to make mutual cuts in our nuclear arsenal alongside Russia under a transparent verification system. It was negotiated in April, debated and voted for in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) over the summer (with the support of three Republican senators), and now awaits a full Senate vote in order to be ratified.

Over 70 national security advisers and military officials from eight different administrations and across both sides of the aisle have publicly announced their support for New START. Countless editorials at the local and national level -- by bi-partisan experts and politicians alike -- have been penned in support of New START. The grassroots efforts have been strong and well-organized. New START's national security value shouldn't be underestimated.

Tea Party foreign policy = U.N. bashing

While the Tea Party owes its origins to domestic concerns, a unified foreign policy has failed to emerge. Tea Partiers often find themselves holding directly opposing views--especially with regard to America's military presence in the world. However, as Peter Baker's Foreign Policy article points out, "[i]f there's one thing Tea Party activists can agree on foreign-policy-wise, it's their aversion to international organizations.

Possibly due to this rare seeing of eye to eye, Tea Party candidates have come out swinging against international organizations like the United Nations. Candidates like Dan Maes of Colorado, Sharon Angles of Nevada, and Rand Paul of Kentucky have each vocalized the call to get the U.S. out of the U.N.

Tea Party Candidate Fears UN Bicycle Takeover. What's next UFO's?

Dan Maes, the leading GOP candidate for governor of Denver, came out against his rival Mayor John Hickenlooper over a bike sharing program. Maes spoke about the B-Cycle program, which places 400 rental bikes around the city to make commutes healthier and more environmentally friendly. Maes claims "if you do your homework and research, you realize ICLEI is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty."

ICLEI is an international association of local governments committed to sustainable development. Denver became a partner with ICLEI before Hickenlooper was Mayor. Why is it then that Maes seems to think there is a deeper motive?

According to a Fox News poll, one third of Americans believe in UFOs. There has always been a conspiratorial fringe popping up in the pages of tabloids and conspiracy websites. These outbursts, which we used to tolerate as petty amusement, have somehow found its way into our political discourse. UN troops taking over Denver on bike is a bit harder to swallow than an ET invasion. CEO Don Kraus writes,

"Voices of fear are fanning xenophobic passions that threaten our nation's values, aspirations, and our ability to thrive in a connected world."

He cites Tea Party Candidate and former NFL star, Clint Didier who stated,

"We need to get out of the U.N. and to get the U.N. out of the United States" because, "they are out to take our guns and repeal American sovereignty"

New START vs. the Tea Party: What's the Greatest Threat?

Written by Don Kraus for the Huffington Post

What's more dangerous: the thousands of nukes that will still target U.S. and Russian cities if the New START treaty is not ratified OR the opportunistic, Tea Party pandering politicians who would derail this commonsense agreement?

If you answered "the nukes", you're wrong.

New START will reduce the global inventory of strategic nuclear warheads on hair-trigger alert to levels not seen since I was born in 1954. But these weapons are not nearly as dangerous as the obstructive "Cold War" messaging that treaty opponents are deploying to upset New START's ratification.

Seven former commanders of the Strategic Air Command and the U.S. Strategic Command who recently endorsed the pact said, "There is little concern today about the probability of a Russian nuclear attack." The terrorist bomb that takes out Washington or New York will most likely come in a shipping container rather than an ICBM.

The utility of New START is that it makes the world more predictable. It replaces the START treaty originally negotiated by President Reagan that expired last December. Like its predecessor, New START not only reduces the number of warheads, it assures that both nations "trust but verify" each other's compliance with the terms of the treaty. Ratification will send a strong message that the U.S. is seriously pursuing its nuclear disarmament obligations, giving it more credibility to demand that nations like Iran and North Korea not build nuclear weapons.