International House of Dan: Senator Lugar Owes Me $28.50

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Senator Lugar Owes Me $28.50

Yesterday I attended a Chicago Council on Foreign Relations talk by Senator Dick Lugar on "America's Role in the World". I had heard Senator Lugar speak before, at a Beta Theta Pi Convention where he was awarded the Oxford Cup, joining recipients such as Sam Walton and Kenneth Lay. I knew he was a good speaker, but I digress... The CCFR event was described as follows:
New challenges face the United States as we enter the 21st century as the leading world power. American power and leadership are crucial for spreading democracy and freedom, combating terrorism, preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and reforming international organizations. America needs international creditability to include its allies, such as those in the transatlantic and Pacific relationships or the Americas. In light of the importance of leading the global community, how must the U.S. exercise its power and leadership to remain a credible world power?

Senator Lugar did a great job of covering the first part of that. He spoke eloquently and without the use of notes about how we are "spreading democracy and freedom, combating terrorism, preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and reforming international organizations." Namely, he talked about his visits to former Soviet countries prior to the recent revolutions, he relayed anecdotes he'd heard from soldiers in Afghanistan... I don't remember what he said about WMD... and he talked about how the U.N. needs to be reformed. To his credit, he did acknowledge that some American business interests should share the blame being cast on the U.N. over the "Oil for Food" scandal, but he said nothing about our need for international credibility... not a word... Rachel was there, she saw the whole thing.

I know that "creditability" and "credibility" are not exactly the same thing, but when our need to "remain a credible world power" is mentioned I lean away from taking "creditable" to mean "deserving credit" and towards it meaning "worthy of belief." I wanted to hear about our need for international credibility. I wanted to be there as a delegate of my nascent ICC group, specifically to ask him about that very subject. An October 2004 study by the CCFR found that upwards of 70% of both Americans and Congressmembers support U.S. participation in the ICC, as well as Kyoto, non-proliferation and a host of other issues on which our policy of non-participation has been a source of reduced credibility in the international community. The only people who were out of step with Congressional and public opinion were generally Republican staffers (on the ICC, for instance, 15% of them support participation while 74% of Democrat staffers do). One reason why Congress continues to vote against the ICC is that they wrongly believe that their constituents oppose it, though public support held constant even in the districts of its Congressional opponents. Senator Lugar did not vote on H.R. 4814, Section 581 of which adopted the anti-ICC "Nethercutt Amendment."

My question to the Senator would have been something along the lines of "if these polls are accurate, and both Congress and the American people support restoring our international credibility by bringing our foreign policy in line with that of the rest of the world, then what will it take for us to do that?" But even if I'd been one of the 4 people who got to ask a question, it would've seemed completely unrelated to anything he talked about.

It cost me $28.50: $25 to get in, plus $1.75 each way for the train, not to mention close to 3 hours of my life that I will never have back. The way I see it, the Senator can either send me a check for that amount, or else send me what he would have said on our need for international credibility had he remembered to stay on topic... I suppose if he's taking the time to do that he might as well throw in the answer to my question too...


Blogger Kim said...

I commend everything that you do. I like your blog, it makes me feel more intellegent only by reading it!

08 May, 2005 20:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this one is a keeper!
Carlos en Carga

09 May, 2005 15:59  

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