Dick Lugar’s strong point in the campaign against Richard Mourdock is Lugar’s claim to foreign policy expertise.
Yet an examination of Lugar’s history shows consistent wishful thinking on Iran, something which will be the subject of posts over the next two weeks in the run up to the May 8 primary.
For today, let’s focus on 1998. At that time, Iran was known to be embarked on an aggressive missile program, so much so that the U.S. Senate tried to push the Clinton administration into taking more aggressive action.
A bipartisan bill, the Iran Missile Proliferation Act of 1998, would have imposed sanctions on firms which provided assistance to Iran’s missile program.
The bill was non-political; it had wide support on both sides of the political aisle even in the face of a veto threat from the Clinton administration, which felt that it was an interference and might anger the Russians since Russian companies helping Iran would be most affected.
The bipartisan support was evidenced in the vote in the Senate, 90-4 in favor. The four opposing the bill were Joe Biden (D-DE), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), John Chafee (R-RI) and … Dick Lugar.
Even Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, and Pat Leahy voted for the bill.
That tells you something.
Clinton did in fact veto the Act, but just when a vote to override the veto was scheduled, the Russians agreed to take additional measures against companies which were assisting Iran.
The overwhelming Senate vote in favor of the Iran Missile Sanctions Act had its intended effect; it sent a message to the Russians that the Congress would take action even if the Clinton administration did not.
Just think what the impact would have been had the Senate vote been unanimous, and had foreign policy luminary Dick Lugar joined with the other 90 Senators.
This would be the first in a series of Lugar missteps on Iran in which wishful thinking prevailed over the reality of the Iranian regime.