Richard Lugar Parts Ways with the Administration on Iraq

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Will this be remembered as a political turning point?

For months, Mr. Lugar has kept his skepticism about the president’s Iraq policy to himself, seldom offering anything beyond a wait-and-see reply. But three weeks ago, Mr. Lugar said, he privately concluded that the troop buildup plan was not achieving its goals and he began preparing remarks he delivered Monday evening.

“In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved,” Mr. Lugar said on the Senate floor. “Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term.”

The low-key Senator from Indiana, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long been a moral compass for his party on foreign policy. In the mid-1980s, he was instrumental in imposing economic sanctions on South Africa, over Ronald Reagan’s veto. In 1986, as the head of the U.S. delegation monitoring the Philippine elections, he declared Ferdinand Marcos’ “victory” over Corazon Aquino a sham. “Without him,” Aquino later said, “there would be no Philippine-U.S. relations to speak of by now.” In 1991, he co-authored the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threats Reduction program, which paid the former Soviet block countries to dismantle and destroy their nuclear weapons. Ohio Senator George Voinovich is already following Lugar’s lead. Chances are, Voinovich won’t be the last.