Senator outlines foreign policy at Commencement
By TERESA FRALISH
Associate News Editor
America must maintain a leading role in international affairs while working to forge coalitions with other countries to fight terrorism and nuclear weapons proliferation, said Senator Richard Lugar, R-IN, the keynote speaker at Sunday's commencement ceremony.
"The desperate need for international leadership in a time of potential chaos ha[s] placed our nation in a position to determine whether the world advances or declines," said the senator.
Lugar, a five-term senator and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, addressed the Notre Dame Class of 2003 and graduate degree recipients at the Joyce Center Sunday.
The senator cautioned against American isolationist attitudes of previous eras and said that only the United States would be able to lead the world to overcome challenges to global peace and prosperity.
"Always in the back of our minds is a feeling that if we just communicate the truth that we do not want empire, that we want to live in peace ... that the world will leave us alone," Lugar said. "In coming years, we will not have the luxury of coming home after battles have been fought."
The senator specifically discussed the war in Iraq and continued American involvement in the Middle East.
"The challenges of developing a constitution and establishing an Iraqi government that is independent, friendly and stable are enormous," Lugar said. "Although we may be reluctant to admit it, we are engaged in nation-building."
While Lugar agreed that the military campaign had been completely successful, he was worried about the possibility of Iraq reverting to a terrorist state if the United States did not outline clear post-war objectives. Though Lugar supported the war in Iraq, he has criticized the president for failing to provide the American people with information about U.S. involvement in the post-war Iraq.
At the same time, America must not neglect its commitment to fighting terrorism and stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, Lugar said.
"The United States and its allies must establish a worldwide system of accountability for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Every nation ... must account for what it has, safely secure what it has and demonstrate that that no other nation or cell will be allowed access," the senator said. If nations do not have the financial resources to achieve this, Lugar said the international community must provide the necessary support.
When states fail to comply with disarmament, the world community should stand firm and use military action only as a last resort. "We should spare no effort to establish absolute accountability through peaceful means," Lugar said.
Along those lines, Lugar called for the expansion of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to help build improved relations with countries around the world while working for disarmament. The program, a bipartisan initiative first sponsored in 1991 by Lugar and former Senator Sam Nunn, D-GA, was used in the former Soviet Union to help secure its nuclear weapons arsenal.
The senator charged the graduates to be informed about world affairs and contribute in a variety of ways to American foreign policy. "The United States and individual Americans must devote themselves to international leadership," Lugar said. "It [requires] that each of you think beyond your immediate world and find within yourself the will to contribute."
Lugar also received an honorary doctor of laws degree at the University's 158th commencement ceremony, as did nine other individuals. Senior Margaret Laracy delivered the valedictory address and Margaret and Peter O'Brien Steinfels received the Laetare Medal, which is given annually to influential American Catholics. The University conferred degrees on 1,977 undergraduates; 229 master's and doctoral students in the Notre Dame Graduate School; 378 master's degree students in the Mendoza College of Business; and 187 Notre Dame Law School students.
All News Stories for Friday, July 11, 2003