- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
The defeat of Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican Party primary for Senate last night tells me two things. First, it says that the national security centrist position continues to erode. Losing Lugar reminds me of the defeat a few years back of Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, the patron saint of professional military education. Second, it makes me wonder if the great Midwest is turning away from internationalism and back to its pre-World War II isolationism.
I remember someone trying to sell to me the materialistic view that the Midwest only turned away from isolationism when grain exports became a big deal after World War II, especially as we elbowed Argentina out of the European market. At the time I didn’t buy it. But I wonder — now that grain is a corporate enterprise, employing far fewer individuals, maybe Midwesterners don’t see any reason to engage in the world.
Here’s another, harsher take.