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Interview with Senator Richard Lugar - 2002-03-14


MR. BORGIDA:
Our guest today is Senator Richard Lugar, Republican from Indiana, and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees here at the Capitol. Senator, it's great to see you. Thanks so much for being a guest on our program.

SENATOR LUGAR:
Thank you.

MR. BORGIDA:
It's been six months now since the September 11th terrorist attacks on America, and I wanted to ask you, how has your life changed, in terms of your daily routine, both in Washington and back at home?

SENATOR LUGAR:
Well, the lives of most members of the Senate changed abruptly with the anthrax attack on the Hart Building, where this interview is located. And for 96 days we were elsewhere, but the business of the nation went on. We did not have books, records, and papers. Letters from our constituents did not come, nor did the constituents. So this is a disruption clearly in the democratic flow that we are remedying as rapidly as we can. But, in any event, we stayed together. Senators, without staff, visited. We visited with our Secretary of Defense, and State, CIA, and FBI. We kept track of developments in war, questioned what was occurring, challenged the President, much of it behind the scenes, but very, very important colloquies.

MR. BORGIDA:
Let's talk about that. You mentioned challenging the President. Of course, the Congress, the Senate, is known as the world's most deliberative body. But recently we have seen some more division, at least publicly, between the congressional leaders about the pace of this campaign against terrorism. Initially, in the weeks after September 11th, the congressional credo, 'we all stick together in moments of emergencies and crises like this,' applied. But, six months later, do you see more division between members of Congress on both sides of the aisle?

SENATOR LUGAR:
I don't see division; I see curiosity. And I've tried to offer a formula for that. And I think the President, in his speech, six months after September 11th, down at the White House on Monday, really tried to address this. He said essentially that we have two lists of countries, and some have al-Qaida cells and other terrorist cells voluntarily or involuntarily and we're going to root them out. There is no sequence precisely. We're going to look for targets of opportunity, see how our allies shape up, what kind of resources jointly we can put together there.

The other even more important list is those who have weapons of mass destruction or materials facilities. We've got to get transparency there. We hope we can do that cooperatively. We'll put pressure to do that. And by "we," we mean our allies. And the President cited 16 countries that have been very helpful in the war in Afghanistan, with the loss of life from many of these countries. And it was very important to acknowledge that we need alliances. We need alliances for intelligence sharing, for good police work on the ground, for interdiction of monies that go to terrorist cells. This is where some of the arguments with Congress have come -- how do the allies fit in? Are we going it alone? Likewise, criticism from the allies, that we are doing unilateral things.

I think, on fair, we've argued that we were hit, we retaliated. We did so with lift capacity and special forces and accuracy of bombing no one else had. But now we are coming into other stages, other countries, the ones with the cells, the ones with weapons, in which diplomacy as well as special forces and bombing ability will be required. So this is very complex for each one of us. It is tough for the administration to keep spelling it out, but they are doing well. They have had good briefings. Hearings now are flowing. The Congress is back from recess. My guess is that we are going to have the same unitive spirit.

MR. BORGIDA:
Let's talk about a couple of issues that have been provocative in recent weeks. One is the notion that the United States and its allies may be moving into Iraq, a very controversial subject. What is your view on that, Senator?

SENATOR LUGAR:
Well, clearly Iraq has programs for the production of weapons of mass destruction. We are hopeful they do not have fully formed weapons that could be utilized against us or against other nations. Eventually Iraq must make those weapons transparent -- by that I mean we must know precisely what they have -- because they have pledged to stop it. We don't believe they have. So, ultimately, if they fail, really, to come into international norms, there will be military action in Iraq.

Now, having said that, prior to getting to that point, we need to make certain that the action is successful. And it is more likely to be successful if we have thought clearly how our allies fit in, how all of the flow in terms of persons who are interested in the Iraq problem from the neighboring countries as well as Iraqis themselves, some in exile, some there, fit into this picture. That is a complex situation. It is not "a seriatim" -- today we think about Iraq -- we think about Iraq all the time. The President mentioned Iran, North Korea, we're dealing with Libya in various ways. We will be thinking about Syria. There are a lot of countries on these lists. And that is why I have stressed the President might give a comprehensive list so we all understand how long this is going to be, how many options there are, how many alliances will be required.

MR. BORGIDA:
Vice President Cheney is currently in the Middle East. This notion of a possible attack on Iraq is a matter of considerable concern to the more moderate Arab states, and it also plays on this current Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is erupting now in a more serious way. Could you talk to our listeners and viewers about how all this, in this very strategically difficult mosaic that you have discussed, how it will affect policy. What should we do, given that the moderate Arab states are very, very concerned about any move into Iraq?

SENATOR LUGAR:
We have to be concerned about their concern. But you have simply described a situation of a many moving parts scenario. There is no one conflict going on in the world. We have been working with India and Pakistan, for example, in that area to make certain they do not get into an unwanted conflict even while we are busy with Afghanistan, or Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and other neighbors there. The same in the Middle East.

We wish that the conflict involving Israel and its neighbors was not proceeding, but it is. It's a given factor. It influences things. But basic for many of the friendly Arab states, friendly to the United States, is at least some estimation that we plan to win. In other words, we're going to be successful. What they would say to us behind the scenes is, if you're going to do this, make sure you get the job done. They say it on the basis of the last war involving 500,000 American troops and Iraq. This was in defense of Kuwait.

MR. BORGIDA:
Let me be sure I understand what you're saying. You're saying that moderate Arab states are saying, perhaps publicly, be careful with any incursion or effort to stop Iraq from making more biological weapons and so forth, but privately they are saying, if this is what you're telling me, go ahead and do it, but if you do it, make sure you do it well?

SENATOR LUGAR:
Well, at the end of the day, that's exactly where they come out. Now, I'm not going to characterize any one leader or any one country, but essentially they recognize the menace of Iraq. But they also recognize the potential instability of divisions of Iraq into pieces. This affects obviously our friends in Turkey with regard to Kurds and the push for a Kurdistan that might incorporate some Turkish territory. The Shiites in parts of Iraq going into play in other ways disturbs a lot of people. So that has to be a part of our thinking and their thinking, too -- what, after Iraq, if you are successful in rooting out these weapons of mass destruction? And that has to be the objective.

Now, in the process of this, the regime will probably change, if it's totally uncooperative. We have indicated, as we did with the Taliban to begin with, back in Afghanistan, we wanted cooperation. They did not take us seriously. They're finished. What I think we are saying to other countries in the world is we are serious. We are not going to wait for a program to evolve that threatens the security of the United States.

MR. BORGIDA:
Let's talk, Senator, about a subject that has been close to your heart, that you have been pursuing, and that is nuclear proliferation and that threat in light of September 11th. Is your security level on that front higher or lower at this point?

SENATOR LUGAR:
Higher, because the cooperation with Russia, with President Putin and President Bush, is clearly better. We are working with Russia, and have been for 10 years, on security of those weapons of mass destruction, and the materials more particularly. There is still the threat there. This is where the resources would be for terrorists, essentially. I wouldn't characterize it as 95 percent of the problem, but it is close to that. If you are a terrorist and you want to get your hands on chemical, biological or nuclear material, Russia is the place, because there is a lot of it.

Now, we are working with the Russians to destroy it. They want to destroy it. They understand their vulnerability, if some of this gets out, for terrorists in Russia to use in Russia to kill Russians. That is why there is an intensity with regard to this that is palpable, and that is encouraging.

MR. BORGIDA:
Can the United States do more to encourage Russia to protect some of these nuclear stockpiles?

SENATOR LUGAR:
Yes. We are working with the Russians to protect it, but we could do a lot more to work with the Russians to destroy it. One of the strange things about our own public policy is that the House of Representatives, for a couple of years, just X'ed out money to destroy the chemical weapons at Shchuchie, which is an area that has a lot of small chemical weapons in shells, the kinds of things that could be carried out in a proliferation exercise. Now, as a united Congress now, we are over that. And the Germans are going to help at Shchuchie and the Norwegians and the British and the Canadians. So it becomes an international focus led by Russians, who are appropriating money likewise for that destruction. So we are making headway.

To leave 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons in Russia -- the Russians don't want this. They have pledged to get rid of all of it under the Chemical Weapons Convention, as we have. So it's important that we work with the Russians, and we are going to do more of this.

MR. BORGIDA:
You mentioned in an earlier answer that the allies need to stay together on this campaign against terrorism, and I wanted to get your assessment of how well you think this coalition is staying together. There have been some concerns expressed by European capitals that the strategy and policy may be going in a different direction than they would like. Your sense of the coalition, please?

SENATOR LUGAR:
The coalition is strong, but the members are independent players. They are democracies. They have congresses or forums of their own. I would say just simply that we have to give a lot of leadership to the question of NATO this year. Prior to September 11th, we were talking about new members. Then, after September 11th, with the Crawford Summit of President Putin and President Bush, we were talking about a Russian involvement with NATO.

Now we need to be talking seriously about how NATO works against terrorism, because it is clearly out of the area of Europe, way out of area. If you take a look at the map, it's all over the world. How do we get lift capacity to get NATO's resources, our closest allies, to the scene? How do we integrate special forces, quite apart from intelligence sharing? These are relevant questions just for NATO -- that's not the whole coalition -- but that is a big one for us - they're very important players.

MR. BORGIDA:
One more question, Senator, in the time we have remaining. You have given us a sense of how you believe the allies are holding together and the coalition. How about the American people? President Bush has often said that Osama bin Laden underestimated the American people and their resolve. When you go home to Indiana to attend the meetings that you attend, is it your sense that Americans, despite casualties and deaths on the battlefield, are staying together?

SENATOR LUGAR:
Americans are absolutely solid. The Hoosiers of Indiana are absolutely solid. No doubt about it. All the polling data supporting the President, supporting the war efforts in Afghanistan, wherever, is abnormally strong. I say abnormally because we have been at this six months and every day is not a battle. There is not something to follow progressively. And therefore the clarity of what we are doing is not always there for us or for our allies or our constituents. But even at that there is no doubt in the minds of people in America that we must fight terrorism and we must win, and it will be a long fight.

MR. BORGIDA:
A long fight. Senator, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.

SENATOR LUGAR:
Thank you very much.

MR. BORGIDA:
We will be looking forward to more of your views on Voice of America Radio, TV, and on our Web site in the months and years ahead. Thanks.

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