On September 25, INFO Public Policy Roundtable kicked off its 2012 Fall season with breakfast in the historic ‘LBJ’ room in the U.S. Capitol. Senator Richard G. Lugar, the U.S. Senate’s most senior Republican and the Republican leader of the Foreign Relations Committee, took the stage following a warm welcome from Tom Korologos, former U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, and highlights of IFE fellow success stories by Coach Kathy Kemper. Former Mayor Anthony Williams briefly shared the floor as well and applauded the contributions the Washington Nationals have made to our capital’s culture and economic growth, and also welcomed the Senator, pointing out that he first served as a two-term mayor of Indianapolis. Norwegian Ambassador Wegger Chr. Strommen also joined in the morning welcome introducing Norway’s Grete Faremo, Minister of Justice and Public Security and Rigmor Aasrud, Minister of Public Administration.
Senator Lugar, soon to step down from his 36-year term in Congress, talked about his hopes for building a future in which America continues to be a superpower, overcoming present threats and solving problems, both on national and international levels. He first pointed to the necessity of using North American natural gas reserves rather than relying on oil from abroad to maintain our global leadership, referencing a Wall Street Journal article. He feels this is vital to our national security and economic recovery. In addition to expanding domestic oil production, Senator Lugar is in favor of increasing the use and production of alternative fuels and strengthening fuel economy standards.
Senator Lugar also addressed the consequences of world hunger. He believes it is both a moral and security imperative for the U.S. and other wealthy nations to address the root causes of hunger. He believes we should use technology to help increase agricultural productivity and not only view food insecurity through the lens of availability and production but also through the lens of access. Senator Lugar manages his family’s 604-acre Marion County farm that now produces 170 bushels per acre compared with 40 bushels per acre in years past.
Addressing INFO during the UN General Assembly meetings, Senator Lugar emphasized that the world faces precarious challenges in the Middle East. He believes that attacking Iran would not be in the interest of the international community right now and that diplomacy is the correct path. Also, the outcome of the Egyptian constitution will be pivotal in Egypt’s relations with the U.S. and Western nations.
He reflected on his relationship with former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) from across the aisle which led to some of his greatest accomplishments in the Senate. In particular, he highlighted how a bipartisan and forward-looking relationship could influence the executive branch in foreign policy, giving antidotes about how the 1991 Nunn-Lugar Act, which established the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, came to be. The program has provided U.S. funding and expertise to help dismantle enormous stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, related materials and delivery systems in the former Soviet Union.
Afterwards the Senator opened the floor to guests and accepted questions including those posed by Thomas B. Patton, Philips Electronics North America; H.E. Ichiro Fujisaki, Embassy of Japan; David Fenstermaker, Raymond James and Associates; R. Les Deak, National Defense University Foundation and IFE Steward; and H.E. Wegger Strommen, Embassy of Norway. Other notables and world leaders in attendance included John Paul Farmer, Sr. Advisor to the CTO, The White House; H.E. Jose Cuisia, Embassy of the Philippines; and Rev. Dr. Cecile Strommen, Embassy of Norway. IFE interns and fellows also attended the breakfast, with Nick Seaver taking photos.Written by Jenny Shore, IFE Intern and NextGen Founder