JIM HOAGLAND: I'm Jim Hoagland of The Washington Post, and it's my distinct pleasure today to have the easiest job in Washington -- I always try to choose assignments like that -- which is to introduce Dick Lugar and then to try to manage the conversation that you and I are going to have with the outstanding senator from Indiana.
Today's meeting is on the record. I'm told by the council that they would like you to please completely turn off -- not just put on vibrate but completely turn off -- your cell phones, BlackBerrys and all wireless devices. It seems that such devices interfere with the sound system here.
The meeting will close promptly at 1:30. We will have a brief conversation between the senator and myself, and then I'll move to the audience for questions about 1:00.
You have the biography of Senator Lugar. I think most people in this room probably have it in their heads and know that Dick Lugar has become perhaps the foremost symbol of integrity and gravity and a serious effort to establish bipartisan cooperation, when it is in the national interest, in foreign policy.
So he's also the symbol of common sense in the Senate, I think, in many ways, and that comes no doubt from him being the manager of a 600-acre soybean farm in Indiana. (Laughter.) Hard to be a manager of a farm without having common sense --
SENATOR RICHARD G. LUGAR (R-IN): That's right.
HOAGLAND: -- and last at it very long.
LUGAR: You bet.
HOAGLAND: Senator, I think many people here are very interested to hear, perhaps again and perhaps in detail, your views on the new START treaty. I wonder if I could ask you, given that you've made your position clear, given that you've made a compelling argument, I believe, for ratification, why does there continue to be hesitation and outright opposition within your own party?
LUGAR: I believe many members have not been around for an arms control debate before. We've not had one, at least of this nature and this gravity, for some time. And it's a -- matter of fact, it's in -- from the beginning of the so-called Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program that started back in 1991, there has been considerable opposition in the Republican Party -- sometimes Democrats, but very frequently Republicans -- who took the position back then that you just can't deal with the Russians; that furthermore, you certainly don't want to send money to the Russians in terms of working with contractors that might take warheads off of missiles and so forth. There's some of that.
I think there, in this particular time, is also a feeling that this is something that is not a high priority for many members of the Republican Party, maybe the Democratic Party too, for that matter. And as a matter of fact, this is reflected in the election campaigns. In Indiana I've seen polling that only 2 percent of the people believe that the war in Afghanistan is a high priority, and no other foreign policy issue at all. So under those circumstances, people just simply are not prepared to discuss it. This is something that might be put off.
Then finally, we've had some very articulate spokespersons, representing foundations, sometimes themselves, who have tried to interject the thought that somehow our missile defense would be inhibited by this treaty. This is completely false, and we've tried to say that in any number of ways. We've had distinguished representatives of administrations past, from the Reagan administration onward, who have come forward to indicate unanimously that there is no inhibitions on our part nor on the part of the Russians.
Furthermore, if we felt very strongly about it, we could ultimately walk away from the treaty, as has been the case with some treaties we've had with the Russians in recent years. But this has never proved to be satisfactory.
I saw an article in a newspaper in Washington just yesterday suggesting that probably there were secret negotiations taking place, and of course it's very hard to rebut secret negotiations. I would just say that there aren't any.
But if you are of a conspiratorial frame of mind, why -- and you're fearful that despite all of the testimony and reading the treaty and what have you -- so I'm hopeful that many members of the Republican Party will vote aye, but the facts are that we've not come to that point yet in which people really have to make up their minds. And some, I suspect, will argue that the lame-duck session is not a good time to do that. I have no idea what the results will be of the election, but in the event that there are very substantial changes, and many of them on the Republican side, some will say this is something we really haven't had a chance to get into, to study, and we want more time.
HOAGLAND: Well, how do you deal with that argument? What is your own case for the fact that this is an urgent matter?
LUGAR: Well, well over a year ago, I pointed out -- and it was not an original thought -- that after December 5 of 2009, there would be no boots on the ground. Literally, there would not be the American verification of the START treaty to which we have become accustomed, which is very important. There were many people concerned about that at that point. As a matter of fact, early in -- before the year began, in fact in December of 2008, I went to Russia. I visited with Foreign Minister Lavrov and with others. They were very pleased that I had come, because they were afraid that American interest in the renewal of the START treaty simply was not there. A representative of the last administration was leaving Washington as I -- rather, Moscow -- as I came, and indicating that we would not be interested. (Chuckles.) So I said I -- I'm pretty sure we would be.
I shared my conversations with members of the incoming administration. In fairness, they had quite a time getting the defense apparatus set up, as each new administration always does, and getting a negotiating team, headed very ably by Rose Gottemoeller, under way. So they did a good job, I felt, but they simply ran out of time. They came up to December 5th of 2009, and out of '010, so the last of our people left.
So the point that I'm trying to make is that for those who want to have transparency -- or if not transparency, at least some very good observations of what the Russians are doing -- it's very helpful to have the verification procedures provided by the new START treaty. And I think we need to do that very promptly.
And furthermore, for those who have brought up the thought that tactical nuclear weapons are not covered by the treaty, the fact of life is that in order to get back into negotiations with Russians who are competent to make decisions on that, we need to have a new START treaty finished, out of the way, and sort of move on to other agendas that are also very important in arms control.
HOAGLAND: Senator, you mentioned the midterm elections that are coming up. Perhaps you can help us understand where the center of gravity of Republican foreign policy is today. I think many people see the kind of opposition that is raised to the START treaty as an example of the Republican willingness to use foreign policy as a tool against this president, and Democratic presidents in general. I wonder if you think that judgment is overstated, if we are in an era of conflictual foreign policy views -- no longer stops at the water's edge -- and the Republicans play a leading role in that? Or would you see it differently?
LUGAR: Well, there's a great danger that we always could fall into the bad scene you're describing. Now, I don't want to do that today. I think sort of hope springs eternal here. (Laughter.) We've been trying to, as a matter of fact, work with Republicans to get the votes we need for the new START treaty.
But I think, in picking up your point, there has been throughout the two-year period of time, largely I think because of agenda items selected by the president -- I'll not try to review whether the president should have spent abnormal amounts of time and energy on the health bill, or on financial regulation as opposed to jobs, or all the normal things that are said. What clearly began to occur was the thought that with Republicans having only 39 members -- that finally became 40, and may be edging upward -- that everybody really had to be in step. That was from the Democratic side, in which Harry Reid felt that at every stage he needed 60 votes to ensure that any filibuster or delay could be put under. And this we went through for a couple of years.
Now, mercifully, we did not have great foreign-policy clashes during that period of time. There began to come onto the horizon, in one of the bills that had some money for Afghanistan recently, about 110 opposition votes, if I recall, in the House of Representatives. In the past, that would have been not unthinkable, but very close to that, since these are American troops over there -- the idea of supporting the troops and what have you.
But this sort of comes from another idea that's flowing along, after President Obama had a group of Republicans and Democrats around the table describing what he felt should be the course of action in Afghanistan -- namely, an additional 30,000 troops, which now are all there on the ground -- but sometime around the 1st of July, the beginning of withdrawal of troops.
This was attacked by many Republicans immediately, and by some Democrats and others, as offering a reason why our enemies would simply wait us out. And the attack was that this shows the inexperience of the president and this administration; that you really can't handle insurgencies in this way. On the other hand, President Obama indicated, I think candidly, that he had some problems within the Democratic Party.
I saw these at the time that he outlined his plan for withdrawal of troops from Iraq; that some Democrats, who shall remain nameless today, said: Get out a sharper pencil, Mr. President; we had a campaign about Iraq, as a matter of fact, quite apart from Afghanistan, which is supposed to be a different war, and -- (inaudible) -- we (won/want ?) out. Well, he brought in the military people and the intelligence people, and that didn't pacify folks, but at the same time, sort of left that one to go.
But when he came around with the same formula for Afghanistan, many Republicans pounced on that, and still do. And I would say likewise, people analyzing the problems in Pakistan now have said here are a whole host of problems -- and I'll not try to describe them in answering your question, but the thoughts on the part of some of the Pakistani leadership that we are going to be leaving Afghanistan informs at least some of their decision-makers as to what they ought to be doing and their relationships, not only with us but with all those who are still going to be there. And this leads to a very ambivalent predicament.
HOAGLAND: Your examples do suggest that you think in many ways on foreign policy President Obama has shown a certain inexperience and perhaps inconsistency.
LUGAR: Well, I'm not sure inconsistency. I think he was listening to all the parties that were around the table, including the Democratic majority in the Senate and the House and in the country, that -- at least that elected him to begin with.
So he's saying, you know, I hear you. On the other hand, there are these military situations that are very complex, and so you've got to let this thing run.
Now, with General Petraeus coming back into the situation, a great deal of reliance upon his expertise, a lot of talk about the December review of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the area, as to what that might bring forward. But at the same time, getting back to your question about Republicans and Democrats, mercifully, I suppose, this particular campaign has not been stressing interest in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We've not been sending arrows back and forth. And that's been true with regard, really, to our relations, for that matter, with China or India or why hasn't the Middle East peace process evolved more satisfactorily, or any number of things.
HOAGLAND: So you mentioned Afghanistan. Is Hamid Karzai today a viable interlocutor and ally for the United States?
LUGAR: Well, he is the head man in the country, and we're going to deal with him. You can have all sorts of biographical essays about Hamid Karzai and his entire life and expectations. Not an enviable position to hold. He's a survivor. And that is a major factor, and so we recognize that.
But I would say we also have increasingly considerable dilemmas in terms of our own humanitarian outlook for Afghanistan. When we've talked about Afghanistan, we've talked not only about facing down the insurgents, making the streets and the villages and the provinces safe for people, but also about helping to build -- that is, literally -- schools and roads, and working with Afghan contractors as well as our own to effect a change in the quality of life in the country.
Now we come into a situation just recently which -- of Hamid Karzai saying, I'm not going to tolerate having these American contractors around with security guards." Well, the American contractors are brave people, whether they're in Iraq or Afghanistan. But they do want to have some security. They are not going to be the target of whatever the rally might be that particular day. And he's saying, well, in fact, however, these contractors sometimes -- or their guards shoot innocent Afghans. This is intolerable; not going to have any more of it; and so out with them.
Now, those who have -- see a more devious motivation would say that what Hamid Karzai really is looking for are contracts with Afghans, and Afghans with whom the president or his brother or whoever else is being alleged may have a lot of contacts. This becomes very murky for Americans if it begins to come up. Where is our aid money going? How are we effecting these changes in Afghanistan that we want with regard to children or women or everybody who has been in the dispossessed category? And the -- those are going to be more and more difficult issues to answer. It's the same over on the Pakistani side.
You know, I've -- my name is attached -- first of all it was the Biden-Lugar bill, then it became the Kerry-Lugar bill, then the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill. But in any event, the excitement of Pakistan at the time was that $1.5 billion would be allocated to Pakistan for a five-year period. And that was magic, five years; the thought was we'd always leave by the end of five months. But we would be committed to thinking through the basic institutions of the country for that period of time.
However, as Secretary Clinton found when she went over, many of the military people in Pakistan took a very dim view of that, and they said, you're beginning to get into our territory of decision-making. And so now most of them have relented. But the facts of life are that very little of the first 1.5 billion (dollars) has been spent, for the first year. And some of it has been suggested for the flood relief. The Pakistanis have said, no, we really want to do the schools and the basic institutions; let's have some other money for the flood. Well, fair enough, but any money getting there that is -- that is supervised, that has some credibility with regard to American taxpayers as to how it's being spent, is sort of hard to come by.
So it has been with Afghanistan.
HOAGLAND: From what you hear from your constituents and what you gather from your colleagues about what they're hearing from their constituents, how concerned are you about maintaining public support for the effort in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
LUGAR: Oh, I think it will be increasingly difficult. And this is why General Petraeus's report, or whoever's going to formulate it in December, will be especially important. Now, it will not be definitive, but still, getting back to our earlier part of the conversation, we're going to have changes in who is here in Washington. If, in fact -- prediction that there are going to be over 50 new members of the House, looking at this, some think there could be 15 or 20 new members of the Senate -- not all people who have lost elections, but -- including retirements and replacements and what-have-you -- that's one of the largest changes in American congressional history. And so I don't know how all of these people look at Afghanistan and Pakistan or any other foreign-policy problem. They've not been discussing this during the entire campaign.
Now, they may come -- and the Republican leaders, the Democratic leaders, say, now, listen, we've got to maintain solidarity. (Chuckles.) We've all got to sort of stick together on what this is. But this is going to be more and more dicey in terms of trying to keep the same party disciplines that were the case I think during the last two years.
Now, I think, in fairness -- and I say this as a compliment to Joe Biden when he was chairman of the committee, and he had been succeeded by John Kerry. And they have worked with me and with others, I think, to try to effect as much of a bipartisan outlook as we could have. I've always contended, even if you have to work at it for a long time, if you get a unanimous vote out of the Foreign Relations Committee, the face of America to the rest of the world looks united, as opposed to a 9-to-7 or 10-to-8 or whatever it may be, which then leads to a question as to how much stability is there in that commitment. And I think this is what Senator Kerry has tried to do during his chairmanship. And so we've worked together cooperatively.
But it's not going to be easy. Particularly, we have many new members coming along. Unfortunately on the Republican side you don't have the idea of seniority in the same way as on the Democratic side. Their members get on the committee and they stay there. But on the Republican side, you can only serve on Foreign Relations, Armed Services, Finance or -- I forget what the other -- Appropriations, one of the four.
Now, frequently we have a lot of junior members on the Republican side who serve for a few years until they get a bid for the Appropriations Committee and then decide they want to go over there and bring home the bacon and -- (soft laughter) -- do things that are really important as opposed to having sort of an interesting force in world history. (Laughter.)
HOAGLAND: Let me ask you a little bit about the fallout of the international financial crisis on foreign policy of the United States, how you see that.
Take a look at the G-20 summit that's coming up and tell us how effective you think that organization has become, what you expect out of this summit when you look at it from a senator's viewpoint from the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Tell us whether or not this matters.
LUGAR: Well, the G-20 meeting that just occurred that -- the United States, represented by Timothy Geithner, was trying to deal with some of the basic problems that the G-20 will face, if it's looking at the economic side, namely our -- the currencies now making a race to the bottom or the gaps in terms of trade balances out of balance to the point that this is dangerous.
Now, they were not able to arrive at any specific metrics on this. However, they did make some sort of broad suggestions and that the IMF would be sort of a -- not a referee but an overseer of all of this. But the -- but the thought was that these issues matter, that if we are totally out of balance in some countries, including the United States vis-a-vis China or others, that there are going to be repercussions not only in terms of recovery but in terms of our own body politic and our relations with other members of the G-20. So I think that point was understood. And it appeared to me that at least there was a degree of consensus that this matters, that we ought to keep an eye on it, that people ought not to take precipitous actions (in ?) these countries vis-a-vis each other.
Now, whether that will solve the problem, you know, on that side I have no idea with regard to Congress. We -- there was an issue in the House of Representatives before we left once again demanding that the Chinese upgrade their currency, and the Chinese resisting this and pointing out it doesn't matter and so forth. We keep going around and around this.
Or, likewise -- this has been especially true on the Democratic side, although there are some Republican protectionists -- but we've not made any headway on even the most minimal bilateral trade agreements with Panama, for example, or Colombia, in whom we've invested so much, quite apart from much larger (issue/issues ?) with South Korea.
Now, hopefully, the president will take some leadership here; some Democrats will join Republicans and we may move ahead quite apart from something as ambitious as the Doha Round or trade generally. But I mention this in conjunction with the G-20 because much of the conversation will be about economics as it's been in our election campaign. Every country really faces that predicament of a banking system that needs stability, of jobs for people; and in the case of the European allies, they have been undergoing, as we've just seen with debates first of all in Greece, Spain, now in France in which the safety net that had been provided -- in the case of the French, the argument over the retirement age, moving from 60 to 62. And this brings people out on the street, so it did in Greece to begin with.
But countries are facing the fact that -- just like ourselves -- these entitlement programs cost money. And so the problems of trying to have a stable budget, banking system, business system that encourages investments, all these things are tied up when even the G-20 meets, quite apart from the domestic quarrels.
HOAGLAND: Is there one thing that could come out of the G-20 that's plausible, in your view, that would reassure American citizens?
LUGAR: I don't know of a -- that there could be a single thing that comes from it. I think that the confidence in the relationship, that in fact there is this kind of dialogue proceeding, that we're not alone in terms of setting our own rules and everybody else doesn't observe those -- in other words, that there is some international respect for the fact that we're going to have to work through these international banking situations or financial situations.
For example, I've told the story to my constituents about our own banking predicament. It starts with a young guy getting a lot of loans, and they're packaged up and sent on to the next level and they're packaged again, and finally they look to AIG or somebody for insurance, but then they have other bets that go along on the side. Trouble with all of this is some of this package ends up in Iceland or it ends up in Pakistan or it ends up in all sorts of other banking systems, fouls them all up.
In other words, no one is immune throughout the world from imprudent lending on the part of the United States. Now, you could say the same thing which -- coming back the other way. We're all going to have to learn some lessons from this or we will have systems that simply don't mesh, and all sorts of difficulties and scandals that are international, quite apart from our own domestic problem.
HOAGLAND: It's been a number of years since Bob Zoellick and others talked about the need for China in particular to become a responsible stakeholder, particularly in the context of the current economic situation. Do you see China's actions on the international economy as constructive, as responsible, or do you see it otherwise?
LUGAR: Well, I see their actions essentially as based upon their interests as they perceive them. And that is not an unusual thing for a country to do, but at the same time, the Chinese are inclined, on occasion, to do some preaching. For example, as we all are interested in the problems of climate change and green and so forth, the Chinese go to great extremes pointing out all the progress they are making. Others that are more sober point out 70 percent of their energy comes from coal. They are trying to find coal all over the world to mine and to use in China, whatever may be their general inclination.
In other words, it's useful at least to talk a reasonable game and try to indicate that you're sort of with it in terms of these general currents in the world.
On another point, the Chinese would just simply say you've got to realize that in order to accommodate the movement of hundreds of millions of people from rural China to cities and to provide housing and to provide some heat for the first time, maybe running water and all, that this requires huge, huge changes that the rest of the world's going to have to sort of realize and help accommodate. People in India might say the same sort of thing, maybe not as often as do the Chinese.
The problem comes when people then say, well, after all is said and done, the Chinese seem to be gaining 7 (percent) to 9 percent real growth a year. What are we doing here in the United States? Well, not -- certainly not that. And then they would say furthermore, the Chinese seem to be looking at a blue-water fleet again. They're out there in some oceans, where we haven't seen them for a while. What about all of that?
Well, the Chinese would say: We're busy in Africa; we're supporting those economies, of course extracting something from them too, but it's a good trade; we want to make sure we can get back and forth, that we're not going to have some trouble.
But then the Japanese would say: But that doesn't pertain to us; that seems to me you're crowding us a little bit more than you used to. And so it is with some other of our Asian friends.
Secretary Clinton's very extensive trip now under way, which hits a lot of different places in Asia, is designed, I'm sure, not only in terms of our bilateral relations, but I think it's to sort of shore up a little confidence that the United States is there not as an antagonist to China; but nevertheless, that we have a friendly ear, would like to do both business and diplomatic work with these countries. That's a very constructive course.
HOAGLAND: Your remarks on China and Japan I think are certainly on target. I just came back from a conference in Morocco where the deputy foreign minister of China made a fascinating remark when asked about the relations between China and Japan today. And she said that in all of history, China and Japan have never been strong at the same time. Quite a remark.
HOAGLAND: On that note, let's go to the audience, to interrogate you much more severely than I have.
This gentleman -- and if you would introduce yourself, and wait for the microphone so we can --
QUESTIONER: Robert Hunter, RAND. Thank you, Senator.
NATO summit, U.S. European summit, coming up in three weeks: Does anybody in the Senate care? (Laughter.)
LUGAR: I do. (Laughter.)
QUESTIONER: Besides you.
LUGAR: Well, I'll volunteer. (Laughter.)
Of course, I'm sure they do. But the fact is that everybody's been away now for weeks, totally preoccupied with what's going to occur next Tuesday. And we won't be back till November the 15th. Well, that's -- the summit in Lisbon -- under way about that point, so there will not have been a lot of conversation about it.
Now, prior to all of this, there has been conversation about the fact that for several years, as you observed on the scene, our NATO allies have been downsizing their defense budgets and the number of people in the military, very substantially. And most countries, although they have been helpful in Afghanistan, have required us or somebody else to pick up their troops and take them out there. In other words, the transport capability has not been there. I mean, there's been a reliance on the fact that the United States uniquely was the country that could do things all around the world, and furthermore, we would facilitate, if we wanted other people helping us, by taking them to do things elsewhere in the world. But this is not exactly a quieting feature in terms of our Defense Department looking down the trail, even with our very good friends in Great Britain and their budget stringencies now emphasizing some defense budget economies.
We've not complained loudly, but we've said now we don't -- what's going on here? How is this going to evolve? So my guess is that, as we visit in NATO this time, we'll be thinking, literally, about the strength of the alliance, who is prepared to do what.
Now, our allies that are closer to Russia and the Baltics or in Poland or what-have-you, always have some special items on the agenda -- either published, or not so -- in which they sort of raise questions: What does Article 5 mean? In fact, things can become more complex. And there have been charges in the Baltics, perhaps, of a hacking situation or a shutdown of a computer's electronics, attacks of this variety. Some have said that it might not be an armed force that comes across the border. Sometimes, in sophisticated ways in this world, things get done that are very injurious in other ways. We thought of this earlier on with shutoffs of natural gas supplies, that this is just as devastating, if it continued on for weeks and months, in terms of the loss of life in the wintertime of the elderly, of industry cutting down. So these are all items that we might discuss.
I'm not privy to what really the major agenda is of the current administration.
HOAGLAND: Yes, ma'am.
QUESTIONER: I'm Molly Kinder, from the Center for Global Development. Senator Lugar, it's really an honor to be with you this afternoon.
My question is about the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid package for Pakistan that you mentioned has your name on it.
QUESTIONER: Assuming that Congress does appropriate the money for the remainder of the five years, what would you have hoped that that aid package would have accomplished in Pakistan? And how will you know that success has been achieved?
LUGAR: We've tried to raise this question with responsible Pakistani leaders, that it should not be our privilege to define how many or what or in what cities or what countryside, but that we ought to be thoughtfully planning together. They agree with this as a matter of principle.
As a matter of practice, the problems in the civil government of Pakistan are enormous. It's a question of survival, quite apart from long-range planning for one year or quite apart from five. Now, that doesn't mean we should be impatient. The idea of the five -- your idea was that this is a period of time. It's not an in-and-out as we come in -- or coming and going from Afghanistan. We -- and we must have a vital interest in Pakistan for a long-term period of time. It's going to be a very important country in the world and in our relationships.
And so as a result, we will have to be patient. I would say, you know, as I visited with Dick Holbrooke as he comes back and forth, quite apart from our distinguished ambassador and others, they are patient about this. They understand that the conversations really don't get to Kerry-Lugar-Berman. (Chuckles.) They really deal with much more existential problems right now. But in due course we will get there. And those of us in Congress who fostered this program must have patience too -- and hopefully enough longevity to see the five years through.
QUESTIONER: Rick Burt -- Rick Burt, McLarty Associates.
Mr. Chairman, as you -- as you will remember, I served on your campaign committee --
QUESTIONER: -- for the presidency in 1996.
LUGAR: Right on. (Laughter.)
QUESTIONER: And having --
HOAGLAND (?): (Inaudible.)
QUESTIONER: -- and having heard you today, I only wish you would have won the nomination and then the election at that time. I want to ask you about Turkey. The U.S.-Turkish relationship is in a fundamental flux. The kind of natural alliance that existed during the Cold War period is apparently beginning to unravel to some degree. We disagree on some issues like the Israeli-Palestinian complex of issues. Iran is another area. The Turks themselves seem bent on carving out a new role for themselves in the greater region. Do you worry about the U.S.-Turkey relationship? And do you have a view on what the future of that relationship can and should be?
LUGAR: Well, I don't worry about it; I'm concerned, as you are, about it. Turkey has been through a period of political change in the sense that Turks have tried to work through how the secular fits into the religious in different ways, and seem to have come to at least some understanding for the moment.
But they've also, as you observed, decided to play a more assertive role in some instances -- that they've become impatient with the lack of cohesion and inviting them to be a part of the European Union or other roles of that variety. They are disturbed by our activities in Iraq, in which they feel sometimes the PKK have been pushed across the border unnecessarily and tried to deal with all of that.
On the other hand, the good news would appear to be that Turkey has done reasonably well economically in recent months. There is more strength and cohesion apparently in Turkish society -- more confidence, perhaps -- which allows Turks not to feel, perhaps, as persecuted or as badly handled. And so, you know, my own view is that we have opportunities there. And we ought to welcome Turkish leaders as they come to this country, spend more time in Turkey with them, likewise, show more interest in the whole situation. And I think we'll profit from that, because it's a very important country.
And I think European friends who are all passing legislation now and having anti-immigration rallies and so forth, just as we appear to be having occasionally with our Arizona law and so forth, at the same time they recognize more and more the importance of Turkey. So we'll -- as we discussed -- we were just talking about the Lisbon NATO summit -- this might be a topic sort of off the board as to how we move ahead there.
HOAGLAND: You know, one of the side benefits -- one of the many side benefits of being able to sit up here is that you get a sense of the totality of the audience that you don't get from sitting out there. And I have to say, looking around this crowd today, Senator, I think it's a real tribute to you --
LUGAR: That's a very, very distinguished group of friends --
HOAGLAND: -- the number of people who are in the audience who have played vital roles in shaping U.S. foreign policy is staggering.
HOAGLAND: And thank you for coming out today.
QUESTIONER: Paula Stern. I'd like to go back to the question about the G-20 leadership meeting that will be coming up in 10 -- the 11th of November and the role of rebalancing our economic -- macroeconomic position vis-a-vis China and the other major economies that are represented in the G-20.
We will also be at the after -- post-election. And you've mentioned the changes that some are anticipating, most are anticipating. And my question to you is, what role the Republican leadership in Congress will be taking with regards to the need for America to step up in this rebalancing.
We've had a lot of discussions in the course of the election about budget deficits and shrinking the government, and at the same time we're still coming out of a financial crisis. So my question is, what role is the Republican leadership likely to play when it comes to any obligations or goals that may be struck or discussed at the G-20?
LUGAR: I think this is still almost a clean slate in terms of discussion -- (chuckles) -- within the Republican Caucus and with the Republican leaders. I would just say that any comment I would make would be totally speculative because there really has not been, I think, a public comment made, nor have I heard a private one from the Republican leaders in this area.
Now that doesn't mean we should just leave it that way. The urgency of what you're suggesting would imply that somebody needs to be thinking about it. So I will attempt to do that, and I will attempt to visit with others and engage in a conversation.
Whether this will be a prime interest and a focal point, however, I am doubtful, given the time frame we're in right now. And I don't keep -- I don't wish to keep (passing ?) this situation, but we're not coming back till the 15th of November. We're there for one week, and then we leave again for a recess for a week for Thanksgiving. Now that takes up to the 1st of December and into an argument that I'm sure will ensue: Why are we still sitting here? (Laughter.) About one-fifth of us are going to be replaced. If you have had an unfortunate election experience, you might not want to sit around forever, you know, with the -- (this is the problem with this ?).
And I wish that I could offer a more constructive thought of enlightenment, that people are right on top of it, but I think this is the actual lay of the land.
HOAGLAND: Since I know you've got a very interesting trip to Africa coming up, I want to go to this side of the room.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Pauline Baker of The Fund for Peace. Senator, I used to work for you on the committee.
QUESTIONER: A lot of attention has been focused recently on the movement of some of the extremists to Yemen and Somalia, and what is happening in those countries. I wonder if you would give us your views of how we should approach these two countries and particularly Somalia, where there seems to be a new thrust from the administration to reach out to Somaliland and Puntland.
LUGAR: I'm sure there is, and of course it comes with all the complexities that you know so well, that Somalia is frequently being protected by its neighbors from those that are within the country that are creating terror and difficulty there.
We're interested because we're back into hopes for Sudan in a big way, with the potential referendum, and then hopefully some peace in the south, that -- if the south was to become independent. But this butts right into very rapidly problems in Somalia and lack of governance, quite apart from our problems with piracy, in which our fleet often has been the major way of interrupting the activities of the pirates. They see them come out of Somalia from an anarchic situation.
But it underlines the point Jim has made. I've been asked by our Defense Department to, after the election, visit in Kenya and Uganda. Now, this is not Somalia. These are two countries with whom we have excellent relations and want to build more, but we want to think through with them, because they're interested in thinking through, is there an application of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program in the sense of biological weapons.
Now, they are not producing biological weapons, but they do now have, increasingly, laboratories that have pathogens and that have disturbing potential materials that, in Africa, terrorists might utilize. They will not be building nuclear warheads and missiles. They're not really getting to the more complex chemical materials. But the problem of the biological pathogens has arisen, and there are possibilities for cooperation.
So I'm hopeful I might be able to meet with leaders in those countries, take another trip -- side trip to Burundi to take a look at some other armaments that are there that they would like to deal with, MANPADS and other aspects of this, and begin to establish a relationship in Africa.
Frequently our cooperative threat reduction has been thought of as directed almost entirely to Russia or Ukraine or Kazakhstan or Belarus or others, but we have branched off. At the request of the Albanians when they discovered that they had drums that in fact contained nerve gas, up in the mountains above Tirana, I went over there with others and we fenced it in, have gotten rid of all of it. They have celebrated in Albania, the first country ever to get rid of all their chemical weapons, and there's a new relationship has arisen. I hope that might be derivative from likewise our visit in Africa.
HOAGLAND: It's a very promising model.
When I heard you answer Pauline Baker's question about that there is a new outreach to Somalia to try to stabilize them, and you said, yes, there is, I thought you were going to add "and always will be," but you didn't. (Laughter.)
This side of the room. Did you have a question?
QUESTIONER: Senator Lugar, thank you very much. Edwin Williamson from Sullivan and Cromwell.
Some in the administration are still speaking about some major movement -- action on major treaties, particularly the Law of the Sea. And I would be interested in your comments on that, and in particular, whether it would be possible, if the Law of the Sea Convention were to move forward, it would be possible to include in the Senate's resolution on advice and consent to specifically address some of the issues that the conservatives have raised in their opposition to the treaty, such as the consequences of a failure to recognize the U.S. position on the definition of military activities, and whether or not the treaty itself, or the customary international law embodied in it, creates a cause of action under the Alien Tort Statute.
LUGAR: Well, I suspect that we might be able to include those two points that you made if we could ever get to a Law of the Sea Treaty debate. I'm not impatient about it, but I would just say over the course of the last 12 years we've been attempting to move this forward to get to the floor of the Senate.
I can recall on two occasions, I think times I was chairman, that the committee did take a vote and did send the treaty to the Senate for debate. But what has clearly been required was an enormous push by whichever administration happened to be there at the time, quite apart from the leadership in the Senate, and that was not forthcoming. It has always been perceived as a lower priority by whoever was around, which is too bad.
Now, that could change, because now we're beginning to get reports that, given the melting of whatever up in the Arctic, that many countries are thinking through such sophisticated ideas as shorter routes to various different ports, and if they are going to send their own ships there, how can they protect them and the routes that are involved; and really, whose territory is it, whose seas or so forth?
So whether we choose in the Senate ever to do this, usually the drawback has been that senators have said this impinges on American sovereignty, or this has something to do really with constitutional rights.
But now people are saying pragmatically it also has to do with trying to define if everybody is up there, and accidents occur. Or people are taking and asserting situations, who the referee might be. And it's just a set of conflicts for which we're not prepared.
So perhaps in the coming Congress, once again, we look at it. I know that Chairman Kerry, our chairman of foreign relations, is very eager to see this debated. And I will certainly be a strong partner with him. But I hope that there are some people in the administration who really share our enthusiasm.
HOAGLAND: I thought I saw Bud McFarlane's hand up.
Bud, do you have a question?
QUESTIONER: Chairman, thank you so much for coming.
I think all of us owe you a debt of gratitude for 30-plus years you've served our country. I've come from London a few days ago. And while there in Whitehall, one of my friends said, "You know, you're lucky to have Dick Lugar. He's kind of a flywheel of American foreign policy that keeps the engine running whenever we're all flummoxed by something this or that government does." And he was right, of course.
Among the dozens of elephants in the room in foreign affairs today, you've covered just about all of them well. The one that is still lingering is Iran, and on the agenda, problems we're trying to wrestle with there from support of terrorist organizations, a nuclear program, rhetoric vis-a-vis Israel and so forth. The past few days, evidence has surfaced about providing MANPADs, which you've mentioned, to the Taliban.
When you put all of these vexing troubles with Iran on the agenda, I wonder if you have any blinding insights for how engagement needs to be tweaked, at least? Or do you see hope in defusing some of these issues?
LUGAR: Oh, but I see hope in that the Security Council has moved, and therefore a number of our European friends and others have begun to think through and sometimes enact economic sanctions that have had an impact. We -- it's hard to gauge precisely, but we believe that that will continue and will probably be increased on that front.
I would say beyond that I'm intrigued with work that has been done to try to communicate with the young people of Iran. This started sometime back. I had a visit from a young Rhodes scholar who came to breakfast with me a while back. And he -- I talked to Secretary Rice, and she hired him as a special consultant. They have -- several of these young men and women over there now in the State Department, who are given modern electronic communication means, have done a remarkable job in staying in touch with Iranian youth. And at the time of the riots or disorders that followed leadership in the election last year, a good number of the pictures that we had really came from these machines that were being carried around by the Iranian youth.
I don't suggest that this is such a movement that somehow or other they feel, the clergy, or Ahmadinejad or others are likely to be totally unnerved by it. But at the same time, we're working on one platform with economic sanctions to have a political impact which we -- on sections of Iran that are not being very well-served by the current administration there. But the young people who are at least 30 and under group, (clearly ?) a majority of the country, and many of them not very much in tune with the leadership. There's some possibilities, it seems to me, for some internal changes in the country.
Now, clearly, there are other means that might be taken. But I'm in favor of moving along steadily on that course, because it just seems to me that that we have the possibilities at the end of the day of changes in government, not a revolution, but substantial changes in the governance of the country, and their outlook with regard to the rest of the world that may lead then to much more satisfactory talks on the nuclear issues or other things that are existential to us, to the Israelis, to others in the Middle East.
At the same time, as you've noted, while we continue to stay closely in touch with our friends in the Middle East with regard to their requirements for arms sales or various other defensive measures, that is not going to be a rebuttal to a nuclear missile attack. But at the same time, it does show our sensitivity to their needs for defense. And by maintaining close relationships with all of them, we have an opportunity, it seems, to try to help keep the peace and advance also, we hope, finally, inevitably some type of relationship between the Israelis, the Palestinians and others. And so these are several moving parts, as you've dealt with over the years. But this is sort of a quick outlook that I have.
HOAGLAND: What is your own best guesstimate about how long it will be before the Iranians have the capability to build a nuclear weapon?
LUGAR: Well, we receive either public or private reports frequently of people making estimates. I wouldn't say that I take any one of them more seriously than the one before. But you have a feeling of sort of kicking the can down the road, that it's going to be another year, another 18 months, some sort. And in part because there is evidence from time to time that the operations are not going satisfactorily, that mistakes are made by the people attempting to do whatever they're doing in Iran.
HOAGLAND: And they may be helped to make mistakes.
I don't want to neglect the end -- the last quadrant in the back. There's a lady kind of in the middle there who's had her hand up throughout the session. Yes, she's still got her hand up. Keep it up, and he will find you with the microphone.
QUESTIONER: Thank you, Senator. Ju-on Jung (ph) with Voice of America. I have two questions about North Korea.
Number one, what is your assessment on what's going on in North Korea with respect to the apparent successor, Kim Jong-un? Do you think he can make the region stable?
And my second question is, in terms of the prospect for the talks between the U.S. and North Korea, what is your take on the U.S. petition. Do you think the U.S. needs to be more aggressive? Thank you.
LUGAR: Well, the United States would like for six-power talks to commence again,. Six power, because we believe it's not simply a bilateral relationship with the North Koreans -- although frequently the North Koreans have suggested they would like to frame it more in that respect -- but by our determination to include South Korea, of course, but Japan and China. We then get into comments as to what their objectives might be, quite apart from our basic objective, which has been to try to get rid of the nuclear program, first of all, and then try to think through the future in a more humane way for the people of the country.
I have no way of speculating any more than you can as to whether the succession of leadership will go well or not in North Korea. (Inaudible) -- the world has been given a view of a potential young leader. But the world also hears that there are other forces in the country. And we hear at least from Chinese friends that their major objective still is stability in the area, stability because North Korea shares a border. They do not want to have a lot of North Koreans in China, nor do they want to really assume responsibility for something that is "not stable," in quotes, as they see the present situation.
So I think we keep working at it. I saw one of our diplomats last week who gave me a cheerful, optimistic thought that there might be some talks soon. And I said, "Well, more power to you." But I'm not certain that I understand the basis for that optimism. I think, once again, we're talking about Iran, a good bit of patience, but likewise thoughtfulness about actions we can take.
One of the most effective things we ever did -- and we continue it, I hope -- was to deal with the North Korean bank account situation, in which we really caused some trouble for the North Korean leadership by making it impossible for them to access the same banking privileges they thought they had internationally before that time. (Inaudible) -- that was not a military strike. It was an economic strike. The question is to use our heads about these things to try to find out where the potential communications or vulnerabilities may be in the process.
I just want to extend the answer to make another point back on the question on Turkey a while back, because I thought it was so exemplary for Turkey to be the host for the Nabucco Pipeline Conference. Now, this was just about a year and a half ago. But here's a situation in which Turkey had been perceived as an obstacle for a fuel that might come through the Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.
And suddenly the Turks host a conference in their capital, presided over by the prime minister, and invite really all of the relevant countries of Europe, as well as some others came along. Prime Minister Maliki was there from Iraq, for example. President Saakashvili from Georgia came over to see old friends. The Turks did a remarkable diplomatic job really of pulling together something which had not occurred before, and which has led now to much more serious thought about some type of independent pipeline or distribution in Europe, not to supplement South Stream or Nord Stream or the Russian natural gas, but as an alternative so that you can have these existential pipeline cutoffs.
And I mention that because I was reading in the Turkish papers while I was there this battle going on still over the secular issue and the religious issue, and who is being taken into custody and so forth. All -- that was a part of the picture. And that has not, as I said, been resolved. But I just mention this, that the Turks on occasion by taking leadership roles of this variety -- and I think they will likely take more -- are probably not endearing themselves to Europeans, the EU and everybody else who was there at that time. But they're making some headway. And I certainly had a lot of respect for that.
And I want to mention one more thing -- this is a personal privilege -- that Brent Scowcroft is here today. Now, Brent is one of the wise men who came before the Foreign Relations Committee, and told us some things about arms control, START treaties of the past, and various other things. That is really so important, that the reason why the START treaty might finally make it is that almost every American statesman or stateswoman of the last 20 years has come to testify that this is important.
A modest treaty in terms of the reduction of weapons, or of reduction of anything, but it gets us back on track in a conversation with the United States and Russia, and then an opportunity to pick up the agenda where it was left. And it's not maybe, to use Hillary Clinton's (thought ?), a reset to the relationship exactly. But it's really an important step forward, which I think all of us would value.
HOAGLAND: It's a great message to end on and to send us out, I want to apologize to all the people who had questions that I didn't get to. I want to thank those who did ask questions for the breadth and depth of their questions.
And most of all, I want to ask you to join me in thanking Senator Lugar. (Applause.)
LUGAR: Well, thank you very much.
HOAGLAND: Thank you.
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