Commentary: Richard Lugar and an adult approach to Iran

By John Krull
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Bless Richard Lugar.

Spared the necessity of having to navigate through the ever increasing idiocies of petty partisan politics by being removed from office in 2012 and rejected by the party he served faithfully for more than 50 years, Indiana’s former six-term U.S. senator has become something rare.

John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com

John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com

An adult talking about public and foreign policy issues.

Column by John KrullLugar’s latest contribution to returning America to something resembling sanity has come during the national discussion over President Barack Obama’s proposed deal with Iran to delay and perhaps stop that country’s development of nuclear weapons.

Much of the debate among elected officials – and those who aspire to be elected officials – has resembled nothing so much as a series of playground taunts. Much of the back-and-forth is about being tough. Very little of it seems to be about being smart.

Perhaps the most conspicuous offender has been U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who also is running for president. Graham’s solutions to national problems, as demonstrated during the first GOP presidential debate, have a certain quality of monotony.

Sen. Graham, what’s the best way to deal with the Middle East? Go to war with ISIS.

Senator, how would you foster job creation in the United States? Go to war with ISIS.

How about improve schools and student performance? Go to war with ISIS.

Celebrate Labor Day? Go to war with ISIS.

Lugar’s tempered approach provides a stark contrast to such stridency.

To critics who say the Iran deal is not perfect, Lugar agrees. But he reminds everyone that we do not live in a perfect world – and perfect solutions tend to be found only in fairy tales.

But he argues that the Iran deal is a start, a way to work toward resolving difficult issues that does not involve racking up large body counts. Lugar fears nuclear weapons will spread throughout the Mideast if this deal falls apart.

He also cautions us against using every dispute or development in the world as an excuse to score political points. He calls for us to return to an earlier time when our political battles stopped at the water’s edge, and we did not seek to undermine presidents before other nations, particularly during troubled times.

“There is extreme partisanship in Washington,” Lugar said in an interview with MSNBC, “but extreme partisanship does not work well in a dangerous world.”

Amen.

I haven’t agreed with Richard Lugar on everything.

In fact, one thing I found ironic about his defeat in the 2012 primary by Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock was the misperception about his supposed “moderation.” Lugar’s voting record in the U.S. Senate was not markedly different from the voting records of the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, and the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-South Carolina, two of the most right-wing politicians in American history.

Lugar was and is a conservative. He’s just not the sort to throw temper tantrums as a way of communicating his position.

In short, he’s an adult.

That serves him – and us – well, particularly in this situation.

All of the problems critics of the deal say Iran poses still will be there if the agreement falls through. The only difference is that Iran likely will have nuclear weapons at its disposal.

The alternative is that we fight another bloody, costly and endless war on terrain far from home.

Richard Lugar understands that, perhaps because he has seen and studied more of the world than any other political leader of this era. He knows that this deal is and should be only a start – that the way to handle the challenges Iran poses is in stages. We deal with the most immediate threat first and then come back to work on the other problems once we have established a framework for resolving differences.

That’s how adults deal with conflict.

And that’s how Richard Lugar approaches the world.

It’s good to watch a grown-up go to work.

I just wish we had a few more of them around.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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8 Responses to Commentary: Richard Lugar and an adult approach to Iran

  1. Thanks John for this commentary. I have always admired Senator Lugar and do sorely miss his statesmanship in Congress. We have lost people who are willing and/or able to take a long view. We quite frankly have a political system today that has gotten itself in a pickle. It will take a group of brave souls, not caring about the next election, to get us out of this pickle. It’s not just things like Iran, it has infected every decision practically. Government has value and is important. Politicians must begin to accept the fact that government is important. The must recognize they are elected to compromise. Something’s gotta give!

  2. I posted the following comment about your article on our local newspaper website:

    For someone who is supposedly the head of the journalism department at Franklin College, Mr. Krull’s use of a non-sequitur in his article is disingenuous at best. His example regarding Linsey Graham and going to war with ISIS is a joke and has nothing to do with the Iran treaty issue. I am not a Linsey Graham fan and never will be, and do not subscribe to his position. But to use that example as a lead in to his pontification about Lugar being one of the few seasoned adults in the room is not an example of good journalism. I would expect better from the head of a journalism school. And when did our choices become treaty or war? Only after the administration needed to frighten the American public into supporting the treaty. Additionally, to infer that a person is not an adult just because they disagree with the treaty smears 56% of the American people (statistics on people against the Iran deal from two recent national polls) and just short of 2/3 of the senate and house members. This is the same tactic that the current administration uses…if people disagree with us, smear them, call them “crazies”, call them children. Obama did this in a press conference when he returned from his vacation recently. What do you teach your students, Mr. Krull? Saul Alinsky? And who died and made Richard Lugar God? If Lugar is so smart, seasoned, and well-bred in international security and politics, why didn’t he help fix the problem with Iran when he was in the Senate. His answer was always “sanctions”. In closing, Mr. Krull your article is disingenuous and reeks of poor journalism. Paraphrasing the infamous words of Roger Ebert when he once reviewed a movie by Rob Schneider….”Sir, your op-ed sucks!”

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