Congressman Resents Clinton's New Isolationism Criticism

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - During a speech Monday at Georgetown University in Washington, President Clinton accused some Congressional Republicans of a "new isolationism" after the Senate defeated the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, criticism that irritated the vice chairman of the House International Relations committee.

Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-NE) in a House floor speech Tuesday, had a message for Clinton. "When National Security advisors and Secretaries of Defense of both parties from past administrations are critical of the proposed treaty and suggest that it should not be ratified in its current form, then I think it's inappropriate for this administration and for this president to label any opponents as isolationist."

Bereuter went on to say, "Yes, there are people that I suppose you could probably label as isolationist on the Republican side of the aisle and some whose actions I certainly don't approve of in terms of their impact on foreign policy. But, I would have to say also to the President and to the administration, that when it comes to isolationists and isolationism, he [Clinton] may look to his own party, particularly in the House."

"It is after all Democrats," according to Bereuter, "who were only willing to give 20 percent of their votes to fast track (a trade agreement defeated a few years ago) for trade agreements to their own president. This is the first president since we began the process of fast track since President Ford who has been denied fast track authority to negotiate bilateral, multilateral trade agreements. Only 20 percent of the people on the Democratic side of the aisle were winning to support that."

"The major opposition", according to Bereuter, " to the Africa Trade Bill and to the Caribbean Trade Bill and support both came from the Democratic side of the aisle. More votes on the Republican side of the aisle by far for that, in both Houses."

Bereuter also became concerned by comments by Clinton's National Security Advisor Sandy Berger on East Timor. "He suggested in a variety of ways, some things he's retracted, others he hasn't, that we, of course, could not be involved even in assisting the Australians in trying to keep peace in East Timor because after all, it was not in the center of Europe. Now, if that isn't isolationism, at least, it's Eurocentrism and it's the kind of things that bother Asian and Pacific Leader and their citizens and with good cause."

Bereuter called on his colleagues to "take a look at the need to come back for bipartisanship in foreign policy and I urge the administration to be careful that they don't alienate some of their best friends."