By LYNN HAMILTON
A sizable crowd gathered in the theatre of Hatfield Hall on the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology campus Thursday evening to listen to Sen. Richard Lugar speak about "A Changing World." The foreign relations speech was a feature of the Rose-Hulman Issues Forum, sponsored by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The United States was forced to "rediscover the world," in Lugar's opinion, following the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy. When the U.S. responded by attacking cities in Afghanistan, Lugar says, this country entered an "extraordinary war."
The U.S. used nuclear bombs against the Taliban in support of the Northern Alliance, which Lugar feels "led to American victory". However, the victory was "not permanent" and "not complete".
He describes the situation as "tough-going" for reformers in Afghanistan, where the country's constitution is based on the Muslim religion. Theirs is a "different sort of life" than Americans are used to living.
After the Soviet Union was dispelled from Afghanistan many years ago, the U.S. left, Lugar says, to avoid getting involved in "all the age-old problems" in that country. Nonetheless, "there we are again in Afghanistan and there we are in Iraq."
Lugar himself visited Iraq in June and he maintains that the people he saw were "not unlike people here" He said many were concerned with the schools and the availability of pharmaceuticals.
The majority of the population, according to Lugar, is under age 25 and a lot of them are apparently "willing to complete suicide missions". That means that most likely, "normal deterrents" will be ineffective.
Before the 9/11 attacks, a percentage of Americans just did not get involved. Lugar thinks that the attacks "took that option away." People who were in this country legally tried to "take out as many lives as they could" and the young men were "not unique."
Despite the "strength and prosperity" of the U.S., the al-Qaida "attacked Americans on American soil" and as Lugar stated, "intelligence didn't see it coming." That proves the necessity for the U.S. to be "wiser and more adept."
Lugar also addressed the students in the audience, telling them it will be up to them to "help discover or refine ways to make us safe" before the floor was opened to questions. The subject matter of the inquiries ranged from what he thinks about traveling to the moon again to his opinion on President George W. Bush's tax cuts.
The Republican Lugar served as mayor of Indianapolis for two terms from 1968 to 1975. In 1976, he became a member of the United States Senate. He is currently the longest serving Senator in Indiana, having begun his fifth term in 2000.