Lugar talks diplomacy, praises new IU School of Global and International Studies

Washington has been buzzing over Indiana University’s new School of Global and International Studies, former Sen. Richard Lugar told an IU Bloomington audience this week.

Lugar, who delivered the Patrick O’Meara International Lecture on Monday, said he attended a recent event in the capital at which many people asked him about the school. An IU ad in The Washington Post and The New York Times welcomed Lugar and former Rep. Lee Hamilton to the faculty of the school.

newspaper ad

Detail from an ad that ran in the Washington Post and New York times

“Almost everyone wanted to talk about IU,” said Lugar, who represented Indiana in the Senate for 36 years, making him the longest-serving senator in the state’s history.

In his lecture at Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union, Lugar made a case for the necessity of diplomacy in foreign affairs – and by extension, he highlighted the importance of the language skills and global awareness that will be hallmarks of the new IU school.

He highlighted four developments that have preoccupied U.S. foreign policy for the past dozen years:

  • The 9/11 attacks and the long, exhausting effort to destroy the al-Qaeda network, including the continuing war in Afghanistan.
  • The war in Iraq, fed by mistaken intelligence evidence that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons and colored by a history of regional conflict between Iraq and Iran.
  • The uprising that ousted Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, followed by the Arab Spring and its unleashing of complex forces in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • The rise of China as a global power and the “pivot” of U.S. concern to East Asia from Europe and the Middle East.

Lugar said 9/11 shook Americans out of a sense of complacency about foreign engagement. But after more than a decade of war, it’s unlikely that the U.S. public will be eager to send troops to settle international disputes or to engage in “nation building” as in Afghanistan, he said.

“We are going to have to find ways of talking and talking and talking – and find ways of developing international agreements,” he said.

Patrick O’Meara, IU vice president emeritus for international affairs, introduced Lugar with a special focus on the senator’s key role in bringing to bear U.S. pressure to end apartheid in O’Meara’s native South Africa. Lugar, he said, brought essential “stability and continuity” to the conduct of foreign affairs during a time when the executive branch of government shifted from one priority to another.

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