"We don’t owe the president our unquestioning agreement," U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar said yesterday in a stunning, lengthy, unnanounced speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Reflecting to a significant extent the ideas outlined in my articles on A Classical Liberal View of the Iraq War, originally presented in detail here on The American Culture, Sen. Lugar, the ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, bluntly said that the Bush administration’s plan for Iraq is simply not working.
Acknowledging that he did not come to his conclusions lightly, Lugar delivered a lengthy speech on the subject on the Senate floor.Lugar’s central point was that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated to the point that our national interests are not being served by our engagement there:
"The United States has violated some basic national security precepts during our military engagement in Iraq," Lugar said. "We have overestimated what the military can achieve, we have set goals that are unrealistic, and we have inadequately factored in the broader regional consequences of our actions. Perhaps most critically, our focus on Iraq has diverted us from opportunities to change the world in directions that strengthen our national security."
Observing that the war has put a huge strain on the U.S. military, the Indiana senator spoke out against the Bush administration’s "surge" strategy, pointing out that maintaining it indefinitely would be disastrously expensive in lives, money, and materiel, and would probably not work anyway.
"The costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved," Lugar said in a lengthy speech on the Senate floor. "Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests in the long term.
"A redeployment would allow us to continue training Iraqi troops and delivering economic assistance, but it would end the U.S. attempt to interpose ourselves between Iraqi sectarian factions," Lugar said.
Lugar said that he does not support a full withdrawal of troops at this time. However, "He also said the benchmarks many lawmakers want to set for the Iraqis are not in the national security interest because they can be easily undermined by a terrorist attack or other action," the Indianapolis Star noted.
His solution: reduce the U.S. military presence and increase diplomatic and economic action.
Lugar appears to have come a good way toward the classical liberal position, and his words carry a good deal of weight in D.C. international affairs circles.
Other Republican senators have begun to move toward the classical liberal approach outlined by Lugar, including Armed Services Committee member Sen. John Warner (VA, who praised Lugar’s speech as "an important and sincere contribution" to the debate), Sen George Voinovich (OH), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), with whom Lugar consulted on the speech.