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July 07, 2008

Jesse Helms' "Bipartisan" Foreign Policy
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

Marc Thiessen laments that the press isn't giving Jesse Helms enough credit for his bi-partisan foreign policy. 

He secured passage of bipartisan legislation to protect our men and women in uniform from the International Criminal Court. He won overwhelming approval for his legislation to support the Cuban people in their struggle against a tyrant. He won majority support in the Senate for his opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. He helped secure passage of the National Missile Defense Act and stopped the Clinton administration from concluding a new anti-ballistic missile agreement in its final months in office -- paving the way for today's deployment of America's first defenses against ballistic missile attack. He helped secure passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, which expressed strong bipartisan support for regime change in Baghdad.

The problem with this argument is that everything Thiessen lists is actually a far right wing agenda item.  Opposing the scary International Criminal Court, which has spent its time going after savory characters like Slobodan Milosovic - what a bipartisan guy.  Wasting billions and making us less secure by working for national missile defense system that doesn't work and scares the rest of the world.  Continuing a mindless and useless policy towards Cuba that hasn't worked for 50 years.  The Iraq Liberation Act - that one worked out well.   Every single example that Thiessen cites has actually made America less secure and is part of the right wing foreign policy agenda.  According to this standard Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and George Bush are all bi-partisan statesmen. 


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Yeah, well the problem is that the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act, sponsored by Helms, passed the US Senate 78-21. This included the so-called "Hague Invasion Act" section that authorized the president to use all means necessary and appropriate, including military force, to free US personnel held on war crimes charges at the court. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer supported it. So, regrettably, it looks like it was indeed a bipartisan measure.

The Iraq Liberation Act passed the House 360-38, and then passed the Senate with unanimous consent.

The Helms-Burton Act (Cuba) passed the US Senate by a 74-22 vote.

The National Missile Defense Act passed the Senate by a 97-3 vote.

So, deplorably, it looks like Thiessen has a point about Helms's bipartisan successes