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John Culleton: Extremists bring us embarrassment

As Americans we can be proud of our role as world leader. But too often we act petty and small in areas where our leadership role is already established.

We became an acknowledged world leader in the first half of the 20th century. After the horrid slaughter of World War I (estimated 16 million killed) was finally ended because American forces tipped the balance in favor of the allies, our president led in the creation of a new organization designed to prevent another huge war. Although the League of Nations did some worthy things during its lifetime, the refusal of the American Senate to approve our membership doomed the organization's main function.

Similarly, after we became the arsenal of democracy during World War II, our American president in consort with our allies built the United Nations. The war making power of that organization was vested in a Security Council with, at our insistence, a veto over any action reserved to each of the permanent members of the Security Council. This time we joined the organization we helped create and its headquarters is in New York.

At the end of WWII the formal signing of a peace treaty with Japan occurred in San Francisco at a meeting of the U.N. I drove one of the courtesy cars that ferried diplomats around during that meeting.

Later, during the Cold War, the U.N. approved a "police action" in Korea. When I served there I carried two ID cards, one for the U.S. Army and one for the U.N.

Our nation has also led in changing attitudes toward and treatment of those afflicted with a disability. Our Americans with Disabilities Act is a model for the rest of the world, and the world under U.N. auspices has created a treaty modeled on our ADA which pledges support for the rights of the disabled.

Already 126 nations have signed the treaty.

Bob Dole watched from a wheelchair on the Senate floor last week as his Republican former colleagues rejected the treaty. Only eight Republicans voted for the treaty, including John McCain.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported the treaty. All the major veterans organizations supported the treaty. Dole, a disabled veteran of WWII, supported the treaty. McCain, a disabled veteran of the Vietnam War, supported the treaty. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a disabled veteran of the Iraq War, supported the treaty.

And who opposed it? The wacko wing of the Republican Party. They argued that, among other things, a U.N. person in Switzerland might tell a home schooler in Utah how to raise her child. Of course the treaty has no effect in any nation unless that nation also passes enabling legislation. We already did, in the ADA law. And that legislation has no discernible effect on a home schooler anywhere.

The U.N. has no part in the enforcement of the treaty. If it did it would be the role of officials in Manhattan, not Switzerland. But Switzerland sounds more "foreign."

The Republican Party is slowly dying of self-inflicted wounds. More and more former Republicans are registered as independents.

This means that the tea party extremists have an even firmer grip on the Republican primaries. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri contributed $1.5 million to the primary campaign of a certifiably cuckoo Republican so that she could subsequently defeat him in the general election.

When Republicans put up candidates even a red state cannot stomach they embarrass themselves. When half the Republicans polled believe that Acorn, which disbanded in 2010, stole the election for President Obama, they show their ignorance. But when they embarrass the nation by failing to support a treaty simply because the name "U.N." is on the header they embarrass all of us.

For the good of not just their party, but the nation, the reasonable Republicans need to take back control of their party.

That goes for Carroll County as well.

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