Disarmament's Brand Name
There is little doubt that Lugar's central legislative accomplishment
is the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Act. Working with
Democratic senator Sam Nunn, he developed a plan to begin securing and
then dismantling weapons of mass destruction in the Soviet Union as it
was collapsing in 1991. Facing an indifferent administration and
opposition from many in Congress, the two senators were able to cobble
together a modest program that was acceptable to President George H.W.
Bush and legislators.
Nunn-Lugar, which has grown over twenty years, provides U.S. funding
and expertise to help the countries of the former Soviet Union (and now
other nations) safeguard and dismantle their stockpiles of nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons, related materials and delivery systems.
Among other things, the program helped achieve the removal of all
strategic nuclear warheads from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Lugar
proudly observes that the program has eliminated more nuclear weapons
than the combined arsenals of France, China and the United Kingdom.
While Nunn played a central role in developing the program, he
retired from the Senate in January of 1997. Since then, Lugar has been
the program's chief advocate on Capitol Hill. He has kept it going and
even expanded it. Many serious analysts describe the program as a major
achievement, worthy of being referred to in the same breath as the
Marshall Plan. Nunn and Lugar even were nominated for the Nobel Peace
Lugar also played a major role in helping secure Senate approval of
important arms-control treaties over the last several decades, including
the START treaties, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Agreement, and the
Chemical Weapons Treaty.
Always Out Front
In 1986, Lugar's leadership on legislation that imposed economic and
political sanctions on South Africa marked a turning point in the U.S.
response to apartheid and represents one of Lugar's finest moments in
the Senate. He helped persuade the Reagan administration to embrace a
more forceful role in opposing apartheid. That same year, he also helped
persuade the Reagan administration to recognize Corazon Aquino as the
winner of the disputed presidential election in the Philippines against
incumbent Ferdinand Marcos.
The senator has been a staunch champion of free trade over his
career, arguing that trade is the engine of growth and employment. He
supported the North American Free Trade Agreement even when it was
controversial at home and was a lead author of the African Growth and
Opportunity Act even when it was little noticed back in Indiana.
During his long Senate service, Lugar has been willing to do the
important but unglamorous work of making American foreign policy
function. He has served as a presidential envoy to Libya, a key election
observer in the Philippines and Ukraine, a congressional observer to
arms-control talks and an American representative to a ceremony
announcing the Nabucco pipeline.