Republican foreign-policy plank puts some GOP senators in a bind

Sens. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoScalise: House, Senate ‘pretty close’ on tax bill Top GOP senator: House and Senate 'not that far apart' on tax bill Sunday shows preview: Republicans take victory lap on taxes MORE (R-Wyo.) and Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonSenate ethics panel wants details on sexual harassment allegations Senate leaders push tax debate into Friday Senate Ethics Committee opens 'preliminary inquiry' into Franken allegations MORE (R-Ga.) voted in favor of the disabilities language when it came before Kerry's committee last month. And 13 Republicans haven't signed on to Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) letter opposing Law of the Sea, which has the support of the U.S. military and oil-and-gas interests.

The plank's position on the Law of the Sea is a little more nuanced than for the other two, which are rejected out of hand.

"Because of our concern for American sovereignty, domestic management of our fisheries, and our country’s long-term energy needs, we have deep reservations about the regulatory, legal, and tax regimes inherent in the Law of the Sea Treaty and congratulate Senate Republicans for blocking its ratification," the platform states.

The treaties' inclusion in the platform makes it highly unlikely the Senate will act this year. The platform does, however, call for the establishment of permanent normal trade relations with Russia as soon as possible — but only if it's attached to human-rights legislation to punish violators with financial and travel sanctions.

In addition, the plank vows to “return the advocacy of religious liberty to a central place in our diplomacy,” and says a Mitt Romney administration won't continue Democrats' policy of “attempting to impose on foreign countries, especially the peoples of Africa, legalized abortion and the homosexual rights agenda” through foreign aid.

Some countries come under fire for their human-rights records — notably China, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia and Vietnam — but it's not clear how a Romney administration would act differently than the Obama White House. 

The same is true with regards to U.S. policy in Syria and Iran. 

The plank calls for a “transition to a post-Assad Syrian government that is representative of its people, protects the rights of all minorities and religions, respects the territorial integrity of its neighbors, and contributes to peace and stability in the region,” but it makes no mention of what steps the United States should take to get there. And while highly critical of Obama's handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, the plank offers little in the way of an alternative policy other than expressing stronger support for regime change.

“We urge the next Republican President to unequivocally assert his support for the Iranian people as they protest their despotic regime,” the plank states. “We must retain all options in dealing with a situation that gravely threatens our security, our interests, and the safety of our friends.”